I’ve been a pretty vocal guy about this lockout situation, and I think I’ve resisted taking a lot of shots. But you probably know I made an exception when Roger Goodell sent that letter out to the players a couple of weeks ago talking about what a “good deal” we turned down. I didn’t like that very much at all.
The NFLPA has made a point to educate us on some of the tactics that the league used the last time that there was labor strife, including letters trying to convince players the union didn’t really care about them and all that kind of nonsense. And that letter he sent, it just felt so much like that.
First of all, there was very little of it that was true. The “deal” they claim the players walked away from, I know we’ve turned it into a slogan that it was the worst deal in sports history, but it really was The Worst Deal In Sports History. It would have been so bad. How could it make sense to do a deal where, in the first year alone, we have a five-percent rollback in our share of the revenue? And that’s the best moment of the deal! From that moment on, the deal gets worse by the day!
It’s just so impressive, the way they can do it with a straight face. I guess I’ll never have that kind of money, because I can’t do that. I can’t, with a straight face, just chop somebody’s head off. I can’t squeeze and squeeze and squeeze just to try and earn more money.
And that’s what they’re doing, but it’s not going to work this time.
We’ve never had this many players on board or been this unified. We’ve studied the labor disputes of the past, and we know why they failed. But this is the first time we’ve ever had the big-name quarterbacks with the rest of the guys. Think about all the times in the past when the big-name quarterbacks turned their backs. They didn’t care. One guy made the statement, “I play for the team of ME.” And you hear that and you think, “How can you be that selfish? Don’t you understand that no matter how you throw the ball, if you don’t have five dedicated guys like me in front of you blocking for you and protecting you, you’re not going to make it?”
I think that these guys really believe much more in team and in the group and how, at the end of the day, everybody collectively does way better if everybody sticks together. Do you think Drew Brees has to do this? Drew knows, no matter what happens, his money’s coming. Drew’s doing this because he believes in his heart that it’s the right thing to do. And if you get a guy with a football player’s mentality, and he gets it in his heart that he’s on the side of what’s right, you can’t stop him. Because we don’t know anything else but to win. I tip my hat to him, and if I ever had a chance to block for Drew Brees…man. I know I’d just about kill somebody for Drew Brees.
So that’s one big part of it, but I think the biggest thing the guys have now that guys didn’t have before is the ability to communicate – to move information from one brain to the next brain to the next brain. With social media, it’s easy to do now. And when DeMaurice Smith took office, the first thing he said was, “The owners are going to lock us out, so let’s prepare for it.” And from that moment, we’ve been preparing for what we’re going to do. And because of that level of communication and preparation, I know the guys really understand, as long as the men stay together, we’re going to be just fine. It’s really obvious that we’ve never had this many men on board, and if there is anybody who’s not on board, or who’s kind of teetering, they’re keeping their mouth shut. Our guys get it. They get that we didn’t opt out, we didn’t lock out and we want to work. With Twitter and e-mail and all the information that exists these days, the guys got the message that all you had to do was save your money and you were going to be fine.
Guys are also taking advantage of having the former players around us, and wanting to learn from them. When you sit and look at a man who you know 10 years ago was doing exactly what you’re doing now. And then a guy who was doing it 20 years ago, and 30 years ago…I mean, you can’t deny that. They walk it, they talk it, they did it and you know they experienced it. You listen, and you appreciate.
That’s why I know what we’re doing is right, and why trying to divide us won’t work this time. I know there are so many who came before me that went through so much so that I could have this chance and this opportunity, I know there’s no way I can’t do what I can for the men who are coming behind me. And the best thing is, I know all of our guys feel the same way.
Chester Pitts is an offensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks. He is a nine-year NFL veteran who spent his first eight seasons with the Houston Texas. He also served as the Seahawks’ NFLPA player rep in 2010. A different NFL player will contribute a column each week to ProPlayerInsiders.com. Follow us on Twitter at @PlayerInsiders.
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