The NFL makes money. Lots of it. But its vital signs are not doing well. And the damage Roger Goodell, the NFL’s Management Council and the league’s owners have wrought in trying to bring players to heel can be heard in the words of NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.
Speaking to Mike Florio Wednesday on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Smith lamented the state of the relationship between the NFL and the players’ union.
“For whatever reason, ever since [the Saints bounty case], when it comes to issues of player discipline there has been almost an inability or resistance to see the big picture in things,” said Smith. “So, if the owners and the [Management Council] truly want to think about big picture then there’s a chance of us moving forward on all sorts of issues. If there is going to be the myopic focus on who wins what round then that’s a role they are forcing us to play and that’s a role we will play.”
Smith didn’t directly address the plans of Tom Brady as he mulls whether to appeal this week’s unfavorable decision. Smith did say that the union is good to go if Brady wants to appeal.
“The long and short of it is the job of the union is to fight for the right of the player and we win some of these, we lose some of these,” Smith said. “But I think the bigger issue of course is everybody’s got to decide on, for the people who are entrusted with running this league, how we want the business conducted and really since [the StarCaps case], we’ve been in fights with the league over issues of how power is exercised. The job of the union is if we believe that it’s exercised in the wrong way, our job is to fight for our players and we never apologize for it and never will.”
While Smith is about the least objective person one could find in issues regarding the league and its practices, his point about determining what the owners’ priorities seem to be is very valid.
“I think the real issue is what do they want to get done?” Smith asked. “And it seems to me that’s what the core issue here is. You and I can remember a time when virtually every player punishment didn’t find its way embroiled for months in a courtroom. I think if you read [former Commissioner] Paul Tagliabue’s ruling in the [Saints] bounty case where he talks about the judicious use of Commissioner discipline, that is a world that we used to have. If we want to get to a point where we can do other things economically to grow the game and not be so embroiled in these kinds of cases that’s the world that we should probably be in. If they don’t want to get there then the union knows what it’s mission is and we know exactly what we’ll do.”