NFLPA To Continue Deliberating CBA Proposals, 17-Game Season
NFLPA President Eric Winston said that players' deliberations about the potential CBA and a 17-game season "will continue," after union officials met Thursday to discuss new proposals, according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The rhetoric surrounding this round of CBA talks has "remained relatively noncombative." But on Thursday, Chargers OT Russell Okung, a member of the NFLPA Exec Committee and candidate for NFLPA president, said that he agreed with 49ers CB Richard Sherman that the NFL proposing a 17-game season is "hypocritical at a time when players' health and safety issues are prominent." For the most part, players and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith have "said little about the details of the negotiations with the league." Thursday's news conference with Winston came after player reps from 30 of the 32 teams "met to consider the near-deal with the league on a new CBA." Winston said, "There's been a lot of good things that's come out of the meeting. And I think those guys now have plenty to chew on. ... At some point, we'll have to make a decision." Winston said that each side is "making a good-faith negotiating effort to reach an agreement" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/31). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Josh Alper noted there has been "no sign that the notion of a 17-game season has derailed talks and been a line that the NFLPA is totally unwilling to cross to get a deal done" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/30).
ONE GAME, MANY REPURCUSSIONS: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said what Sherman and the union should not do is "accuse the league of hypocrisy if we're negotiating something" because the union has the option of not accepting the 17-game proposal ("First Take," ESPN, 1/30). CBS Sports Radio's Boomer Esiason said he is "not an advocate" for the 17-game season, though he also said he is a "realist." Esiason said that is the "only way that they can grow the game," and suggested the extra games could be played at "neutral sites" ("Boomer & Gio," CBS Sports Radio, 1/30). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser asked, "How many players will say, 'Let's bite the apple.' How many players will say that? I understand what Richard Sherman is doing because he's gathering his forces, if he can. But a lot of players are going to look at Richard Sherman and they're going to say this, 'He makes a lot of money, and he's an old guy. He doesn't understand what it's like to make no money and not have much of a career'" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/30).
OTHER ISSUES AT STAKE: ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler noted several players "criticized the lack of minority head coaches, saying owners should be held more accountable." Smith said that coaches would be "wise to unionize." Winston added that players "want changes to a substance abuse policy that bans marijuana, which is legal in several states" with NFL teams (ESPN.com, 1/30).