Kansas City Chiefs OL Rudy Niswanger went on with Nick Wright of 610 Sports just a little bit ago and it was an interview that I think you all should listen to. I really enjoyed Niswanger's take on a lot of these issues even though some I disagree with. He came across as honest which as a fan I appreciate, recognized the owners have a job to do too and didn't demonize them even though he's on the other side.
I'll toss out a link to the interview when 610Sports.com gets it up but here are a few notes on the interview. Oh, and @RudyNiswanger is now on Twitter so follow him (and tell him @ArrowheadPride sent you).
-He was previously called a players rep for the NFLPA. With decertification he says they're now called player directors.
-Have the fans gotten full representation in this mess? "I don't believe they have but unfortuantely for the fans, to them, it probably sounds like a lot of noise at the moment. Players are saying one thing, owners are saying one thing and they're probably feeling, 'Who to believe? What's the truth?'" As a fan, yep, that's pretty much what I feel.
-He's on Cobra insurance now that the lockout ended his insurance through the league. All the insurance is the same but he's paying more for it.
-Quote: "We want to play a game where we're not forgotten, where we're not discarded the minute we're injured."
-We all read the letter from Clark Hunt to Chiefs season ticket holders -- and many others owners sent a similar letter -- saying it was the players walked away from the negotiating table. Here's Niswanger's response to the league and others saying it was the players walked away: "We didn't walk away. The federal mediator, George Cohen, he basically told us, there was no 'constructive purpose', and I'm quoting here, 'would be served by continuing the negotiations at that time'. Obviously we agreed with him. The owners had refused to engage in constructive talks."
-He says the players had to decertify before the lockout in order to block the lockout because if they hadn't done it then, they would have had to wait six months, which would potentially mean, according to him, the owners could have carried the lockout into the season before the players could attempt to block it with litigation.
-On the April 6th court hearing to try to block the lockout: "If we win, the owners will probably appeal -- the same thing we would do if we lose. If they appeal, Judge Nelson, whose court the case is in, she can say one of two things: 'OK, the players won so they're back to where the lockout is officially stopped'. Or she can say, 'While the owners are appealing I'm going to let the lockout continue. Since they're appealing it wouldn't be fair to deal out damages, damages being stopping the lockout.''"
-He says the most likely situation, if the lockout is blocked, would be the owners would impose the last set of rules (the 2010 season). In that scenario, Niswanger's rights would be controlled by the Chiefs so this could be an important one for him. "It boils down to we just don't know. It's completely up to [the NFL] and what system they impose."
-On the suggestion that owners are taking the risk: "Is risk not being able to pick up my kids when I'm older?" He had more here but that was the one that hit the most.
-Are you going to let your son play football? "If that's something he wants to play, he's more than welcome to play." Interesting answer as Niswanger said they're aware of the risks they take with the game.
-Here's a "wow" stat he passed along: 84 percent of players leave the game because of injury.
-Are owners partners with the players? "If they want us to be partners in their costs, should we be partners in their revenues?" The owners say they're taking some risk by owning the team and the money involved. Niswanger says the players would gladly take an equity stake in the teams.
-"At the end of the day, Let's be real. [The fans] wanna see football....When we were fans, when we were growing up, every player starts as a fan, we didn't know about these things and didn't want to think about it."
-Considering the rhetoric we've heard from both sides, I liked this answer: "I think at the end of the day, [the owners] want us to play football. I think they want us to be healthy, they want us to have a safe game but I also think they're business men, too. I can understand that. They have to worry about their business side. They're sitting there trying to weigh their costs with the best they can get from it. It's a business decision and I can't fault them from the standpoint that it's a business decision. Obviously, though, as employees we're worried about....our health and safety."
-On his prediction of what happens: "I think at the end of the day what will happen is that there will be class settlement, between the owners and players, and we'll eventually get back to playing football whether it's through the courts or settlement discussions with the owners but I think football will be played. We all love the game too much."