There hasn't been much discussion around here regarding the looming labor negotiations between the players association and the owners. That's for a couple of reasons.
A.) I don't think a large portion of the population is qualified enough to discuss and/or understand the technical terms involved in the negotiations and B.) as fans we only care about the final score on Sundays.
I happen to fall into both of those categories.
Here's the basic gist of it. The owners, citing stadium construction costs and the state of the economy, want a bigger piece of the pie. The players want to keep the status quo. The hang up is the players insisting the owners open their books so they can see how much they're making. There's a lot of other factors involved but that's a two-sentence summary of the issue.
For the players, it's a different situation. On the one hand, they have to understand the issues at hand because it directly affects their professional and financial lives. On the other hand, they're there to win football games and need the full scope of their attention on achieving that goal.
If you're interested in this stuff, then make the jump, or check out Bob Gretz's article on the topic.
Yesterday, new NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith attended the Kansas City Chiefs training camp. He talked with a handful of players including Mike Vrabel, who is a member of the the NFLPA's executive committee. Vrabel, if you remember, cited the fact that the players collectively bargained for the right to skip voluntary mini-camps (without repercussion) when he didn't attend the majority of the Chiefs offseason activities.
Other Chiefs who are a little more intimately involved is the team player rep, Brian Waters, and the two co-alternates, Jon McGraw and Rudy Niswanger, according to the latest information available from the NFLPA.
If you follow Pro Football Talk, then you're probably a little more knowledgable of the CBA negotations than the average Joe. Mike Florio has consistently pointed out the message coming from the players: Unity.
It's us against them, as Vrabel recently told reporters. "Right now, that’s the unfortunate side of our business. There are owners and there is everybody else. We are everybody else and we need to stick together."
Derrick Johnson, like many other players, understands the situation but isn't focusing on it. At least not publicly. "Guys are really trying to focus on the task at hand and that’s the season," he said. "Maybe it will pick up when things come into focus during the season. But right now guys are trying to make this team and help us out."
"If Vrabel told you everybody’s just thinking football then take what he says as gospel," Johnson says. "I’m just trying to figure out how to make myself and this team better for the 2009 season. There’s not time for anything else."
Mr. Smith has been to nearly every training camp across the United States so far to reiterate the message the players' want to send: Unity.