The NFLPA’s executive director DeMaurice Smith, their president Eric Winston, and its executive committee is a group that can be described by the letter D. They are driven, dedicated, and determined to make sure the players get the most out of a league that exploits them. Winston highlighted the fact that the committee has met with different companies in Houston. They have been learning about different ways to resolve issues in ways that would be more effective. The executive committee consists of Winston, Lorenzo Alexander, Shaun Suisham, Benjamin Watson, Mark Herzlich, Zak DeOssie, and Ryan Wendell as they offered insight on a litany of topics. Of those topics, they mainly focused on the health and wellness of players, the treatment of cheerleaders, and the travel ban imposed.
Before taking on the questions from the media, Winston talked about the history of the NFLPA. He recognized the great strides the union has made during its existence and thanked those that came before them. He knows without those that came before them the union might not be as strong as it is today.
In the first topic, Winston spoke emphatically on the matter of health and wellness. He believes the league has came a long way in terms of getting people to realize there are preventable injuries. Suisham and Alexander used personal experience in injuries they sustained that has helped shape this new NFLPA regime. Winston acknowledged the fact that the union has a long way to go still, but they are going in the right direction.
“In regards to player wellness, we have to keep pushing the bounds of research,” Winston remarked.
Second, Smith chimed in on the matter of marijuana. He and the union want to see if there are situations where it is okay to use the drug medically, when it could they be used, and under what circumstances should they support it. The observations of this drug are still at the early stages and they hope to have a formidable proposal for their board meeting in March.
Smith said, “We’re looking at the issue comprehensively when it comes to medical marijuana, but we’re looking at it as an issue of pain.”
If the treatment of the NFL cheerleaders was not a hot topic, it will most certainly be one that is worth paying attention to. A group of cheerleaders filed a potential class-action lawsuit in federal court against the NFL. Executives and team owners have been trying to pay them at less than desired wages. Cheerleaders are certainly a big part of the NFL experience and might be why some people attend games. Smith chastised those same executives and owners. Wendell is married to a former cheerleader and he jumped in on the discussion.
“NFL players can’t be everywhere so you have this proxy in the cheerleaders,” Wendell highlighted. “They deserve it [compensation], they’re part of the show.”
Finally, Winston addressed the recent travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump. He was transparent and brief in his response. He made it loud and clear that he supported his Muslim union members and is willing to fight this battle alongside them along with the rest of the union.
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