Nationals

Union head takes on NFL on player safety issues

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Union head takes on NFL on player safety issues

NEW ORLEANS (AP) So much for labor peace in the NFL.

Less than 18 months after the league and players ended a lockout by signing a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth used a Super Bowl news conference to lay out a series of complaints about safety issues Thursday.

Smith began by threatening to file a grievance if the NFL refuses to institute a system to verify the credentials of all medical personnel on the 32 teams. He mentioned three amendments the NFLPA wants to make to the new CBA, including the appointment of ``a neutral chief safety officer who can hear appeals about acceptable levels of medical care.''

He called the NFL's lockout of its officials at the start of this season ``one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety that I think has occurred in the National Football League since our inception.''

All in all, it sent a clear message that the union and owners have significant differences about how to improve players' health and safety.

Even when the sides do agree, they can't seem to agree.

The union has been pressing the NFL to put independent neurological consultants on sidelines during games to help diagnose and treat concussions, something league general counsel Jeff Pash announced at a news conference earlier Thursday he expects to begin next season.

But Smith would only acknowledge having ``heard that they have relented, at least in some respect, to have sideline concussion experts. We have not seen the proposal.''

Pash did say that ``details need to be worked through'' with the NFLPA.

The NFL is facing concussion-related lawsuits from thousands of former players. In a series of interviews about head injuries with The Associated Press in December 2011, 31 of 44 players said they wanted the league to have independent neurologists at games.

At its media session Thursday, the union presented the results of an internal survey that it said showed a majority of players are not satisfied with the way their team manages injuries and that most do not trust their team's medical staff. The union would not say how many players participated, however.

``The league, their No. 1 focus - at least they say their No. 1 focus - is health and safety. And we say our No. 1 focus is health and safety,'' Foxworth said. ``How come we have such a hard time moving the ball on some health and safety issues?''

He mentioned the use of replacement officials, the NFL's desire for an 18-game season, the increased slate of Thursday night games and the New Orleans Saints bounty investigation as examples of items that have driven a wedge between the players and the league.

``All those things are happening, and our players see it,'' Foxworth said, ``and they lose trust.''

Still unresolved, too, is implementing blood tests for human growth hormone, something the CBA paved the way for but has not yet started. Pash said the league recently made a new proposal to the union that he thinks will lead to HGH testing next season. But Smith disputed that, saying the league still will not agree to the sort of independent arbitrator that Major League Baseball's drug-testing program has.

Said Smith: ``Why should football players take less due process rights than baseball players?''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Nationals' championships rings filled with flash and memories

Nationals' championships rings filled with flash and memories

Salivating and awe came first. Distribution will have to wait.

The Nationals revealed their jewel-laden championship ring during a slow-moving, hour-long telecast Sunday night which was originally supposed to include select players receiving their rings. After pushback from the players -- who wanted to receive the rings together when it was safe to do so -- the night was converted to more of a reveal than reaction.

The ring itself included several nods to the D.C. area, markers from the championship season, and specific personalizations.

Here’s a blow-by-blow:

-- The ring is 14-karat white and yellow gold

-- The “W” logo is made from 30 rubies to represent the 30 runs the team scored in the four World Series game

-- Around the logo are 58 pavé-set diamonds

-- Above and below the logo or the words “World Champions” set over the ring via 32 sapphires. This number represents the sum total of the team’s 2019 walk-off wins (7), shutout wins (13), longest winning streak (8 games), and playoff rounds won (4).

-- An additional 108 diamonds are featured along the ring top, representing the number of regular season and postseason wins (105), plus one diamond for the World Series title and two diamonds for the locations -- Washington and Montreal -- of the franchise.

-- The top and bottom of the ring have 12 rubies to represent the total number of postseason wins

-- On the left side in yellow gold is the player’s name

-- Beneath the name is a flag, the Capitol Building and the Roman numerals MMVI to represent the year the Lerner family purchased the franchise

-- The player’s number is in diamonds on the bottom left side

-- “Fight Finished” is on the right side

-- The interior of the ring is engraved with a shark symbol holding a yellow gold trophy. So, yes, a nod to “Baby Shark” has made it onto the rings

-- Also on the interior are the team logos of each opponent the Nationals defeated in the postseason

-- “Go 1-0 every day” is also engraved inside

-- In total, the average championship ring contains 170 total diamonds, 32 custom-cut sapphires, 31 custom-cut rubies, and 24 princess-cut rubies for a precious total stone carat weight of 23.2 carats.

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The lead up of the ring reveal included congratulatory messages from a slew of people associated with the Nationals in the present and past.

Former closer Chad Cordero and catcher Brian Schneider started the video messages. Denard Span and Adam LaRoche followed. Redskins quarterback Alex Smith, former Redskins player Brian Mitchell, chef José Andrés and Dr. Anthony Fauci were among several others to send congratulations.

In a post-reveal show, the players emphasized they were looking forward to receiving the rings in a group.

“I think the only thing better than seeing it is going to be wearing it,” Howie Kendrick said.

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Max Scherzer: Nationals players opening rings together will be ‘final piece to our championship’

Max Scherzer: Nationals players opening rings together will be ‘final piece to our championship’

One year to the day after the Nationals began their climb out of the depths of a 19-31 start on their way to winning the World Series, the team unveiled its championship ring design.

Introduced in a virtual ring ceremony hosted by a conglomerate of Nationals officials and media members, the rings captured many significant images and phrases from the Nationals’ historic season such as “Go 1-0 Today” and Baby Shark.

A few players were originally set to receive their rings during the virtual ceremony before the rest of the team, but the Nationals released a statement Saturday saying that “the players collectively decided they would prefer to receive their rings when the team could be physically reunited.”

Instead, the entire team watched on with the rest of baseball fans as the design was introduced. After the presentation ended, several players went on a Zoom call with MASN’s Dan Kolko to discuss their thoughts on the new bling.

“It’s cool to see in person but I think I’ll be with Davey [Martinez] when I can actually put that thing on,” Nationals starter Max Scherzer said. “I think all of us, when we’re all together, when we can have that moment together, that’s the final piece to our championship and that’ll be an emotional moment.”

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As part of the presentation, the Nationals invited fans to support their #NATS4GOOD community response fund that assists those who’ve been directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak,

“I’m with Max, I think it’ll be cool for us all to get it together,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “I think with the situation that we’re in, obviously nothing is normal right now so to give the fans a look at this and at the same time raise some money…it’s the least we can do.”

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