By now, you've probably seen the video clips of Colts center Jeff Saturday talking with NFL Network's Rich Eisen. Regardless of how you feel about the current NFL labor situation, it was hard for anyone not to be impressive with Saturday after watching that interview. In fact, the NFLPA* (I'm using the * now because they aren't technically a union anymore after de-certifying) should give serious consideration to having Jeff be the mouthpiece for their cause and not DeMaurice Smith.
I personally have nothing against Smith and I think, given the circumstances, he's done a good job handling this labor situation. That's just my opinion. In private conversations, some of my SB Nation writer colleagues have questioned Smith's demeanor, saying he's too 'loud' or too 'strong' when he speaks.
Listen, if I had to spend daily twelve hour negotiating sessions with morons like Jerry Richardson, Jerry Jones, and Mike Brown, I know I (and almost every other semi-sane person in America) would walk out of those sessions sounding a bit too loud and strong. When you have to shout over the angry ignorance of overgrown children like Richardson, that kind of stress is enough to make Ghandi flustered.
But, regardless, having Saturday effectively 'set the record straight' on the labor issues was a very smart idea. In fact, using Colts players in general to work on solving this labor problem was a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself). It seems that Colts players have been more involved in this labor dispute than any other team.
Here's a rundown on Colts players taking active roles in the NFL labor negotiations and the subsequent NFL Lockout:
- Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning took part in negotiations with the NFL owner's executive committee prior to the lockout. One of these sessions was the now infamous meeting where Jerry Richardson did what he is known to do (act like a dumbass), which resulted in several owners apologizing to Saturday and Manning after the session.
- Post-lockout, Peyton Manning is a named plaintiff on the NFLPA*'s lawsuit against the owners for anti-trust violation.
- When Commissioner Roger Goodell rather stupidly sent a letter to all the NFL players on March 17th, attempting to 'clarify' what happened during negotiations. The letter from the players back to Goodell was drafted by Colts wide receiver . In the letter, the players and linebacker Gary Brackettessentially call Goodell a liar.
Now add Saturday making the media rounds, talking to folks like Eisen and doing an effective job articulating the position the players are in. Here's a few clips from Saturday's interview that I thought were worth highlighting:
And from the players' perspective, we know the best thing that can happen for football is for us to play. And so had we waited and continued to extend the thing out, whatever the owners decided if we couldn't get a deal, whenever they decided to place a lockout on, and all the key ingredients were there. From the hiring of Bob Batterman, all the way from the way they had structured everything, we always felt like their intention was to lock us out.
There was nothing that really grew, minus some small details; but the reality was we had worked up to that, and so to decertify we felt like as players to break apart our union was by far our best capability to get back on the field. Because now you're fighting the owners in a litigation battle; it has nothing to do with the union and an employer that they can keep you locked out. We felt like, 'Hey listen, we don't have to be a union, we can fight it as individuals, we can break this thing apart and it will allow us to keep football going. Because there's nothing now causing the owners to keep the lockout; their fighting of it is to say that we are still union, which we're not.' So that was really our decision was to get our players back on the field as fast as possible."
"Again it went back, listen, it took two years to get there. If you can't get a deal done in two years, what's another three days going to mean? And that's why I'm telling you when you got down to the brass tacks of the deal, nothing had changed from the two years ago to where we were that afternoon.
"If the courts agree with us, which we feel like they would, football will be played. Now it will be played under whatever system they want it to be played under, but we're willing to take that chance just to play. I didn't feel like as a player our fans would put up with a lockout where we're missing games. I didn't think our players would put up with it, and I didn't think our owners could tolerate it.
Again I go back to all the time I try to tell fans back at home, because obviously I answer to a lot of those people, is…Indianapolis is my home and we have the Super Bowl coming up; it's a big deal for our city and for where I live, and I wanted the very best for it and not to play football is unacceptable to me. So whatever we had to do, which we felt like decertification was the only way we could get back to football."
Again, as you all know, folks like me, Matt Grecco, and former writer Collin McCollough (now at Bleacher Report) all find ourselves firmly planted on the side of the players in this labor issue. We think the reasons for their de-certification and lawsuit were justified. Like the players, I personally would not trust these owners. I don't trust anyone who comes to me and says 'Give me half your money because I'm poor,' and then refuses to provide me proof as to whether or not they are truly poor.
If you personally feel differently about this, that's fine. Just wanted to re-iterate where we as editors and writers for this blog stand on this issue. We also think it's cool that players like Saturday, Big P, Gonzo, and Gary are so actively involved in this. All four are intelligent, capable people. It gives me hope that this will all get resolved prior to September.