As the NFL and NFLPA go back and forth in the media while trying to work out a new collective bargaining agreement, the first cracks on either side are starting to show. New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie unleashed a tirade on NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and the NFL owners following the Jets loss to the Steelers this past weekend:
“Honestly, I don’t give a damn if they get mad at me or not,” Cromartie said. “But it’s getting to the point where it’s getting ridiculous when everything is always dealing with money. You’re basically dealing with people’s livelihoods… You’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of other people in this workplace from the venues to everyone else. To me, you need to stop bitching about it. If you want to say that you want to get into a room and meet. Then, do it. Don’t just talk about it.”
“You got our head union rep acting like an a-hole,” Cromartie added. “They got their guys acting like a-holes. So they just need to get their sh— together and just get it done.”
According to Jason Whitlock, Cromartie also said:
“When you don’t get no information about nothing from the union or the owners,” Cromartie told New York reporters Monday. “So to tell you the truth, they (NFLPA reps and owners) need to get their damn minds together and get this (spit) done. Stop bitching about money. Money ain’t nothing. Money can be here and gone. Us players, we want to go out and play football. It’s something we’ve been doing and we love it and enjoy it. It’s our livelihood.”
Naturally some of the more prominent players in the NFL were quick to comment on the issue. Ray Lewis and Darnell Dockett stated that the NFLPA has its leaders and everybody is behind them. It will be interesting to see if Cromartie is heard from again during this lockout or if he’s been told keep quiet.
It’s a lot harder for the players to remain united against the owners for two big reasons. The first is that there are so many players in the NFL. With somewhere on the order of 2,000 NFL players (53-man rosters + 8-man practice squad + injured players) and approximately 32 owners (not factoring in minority ownership interests), the NFLPA has a larger contingent to keep toeing the line and staying on message.
The second problem for the players is that while their salaries are primarily dependent on playing and endorsements related to playing, owners have usually made most of their money in other industries. The owners either still have additional income streams or they’ve saved a whole bunch of money over the course of their lives. Either way, they will generally not find themselves in the same financial predicament that is guaranteed to entrap some players during a possible lockout.
The owners currently have the advantage and the longer a lockout drags on, the greater that advantage will be for the owners. I suppose a long stoppage could embolden the players, but when it comes down to it, money talks and the players do not have the same resources as the owners.