NEW YORK (WFAN) — DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, is prepared to take the NFL lockout battle to the bitter end.
“We went to the mattresses the day that we decertified,” Smith told WFAN’s Boomer & Carton on Friday morning. “Not because we wanted to, because they made us do it.”
With the lockout dragging into a third month, players asked a federal judge Thursday to make $4 billion in disputed broadcast revenue off limits to the league and to award them at least $707 million in damages, too.
The damages award alone could amount to a huge piece of leverage for the players in their fight with the NFL over the next collective bargaining agreement.
“The players understand the fight that they’re in,” said Smith. “Right now they don’t want to lay down and be forced to take a deal. They don’t believe that it’s fair. I can tell you that they resent being lied to. They resent being tricked. They resent the fact that the league has been found now twice to have violated the law. So those are the people that we’re inextricably tied to.”
Players haven’t only been active in the courtroom, said Smith. Eli Manning just concluded his Giants passing camp at Hoboken High School. Mark Sanchez hosted teammates at his annual “Jets West” camp at Mission Viejo High School in California. Locked-out players are finding their own ways to stay in shape — on their own dime.
“I can tell you every player wants to play football,” he said. “We’ve got our guys working out by themselves. You’ve got guys down in New Orleans where Drew (Brees) brought his guys together and paid their way so that they can practice. These guys are going and keeping themselves in shape for nothing at a time where, for the first time in history, a business has actually sued not to do their business.
“So while our guys are probably a little edgy, to use a soft word, they want to get back to enjoying their game.”
Smith himself was noticeably edgy when describing the state of the NFL. From the crowd at Radio City Music Hall roundly booing Roger Goodell at the onset of last month’s NFL draft to the suicide of ex-Giants star Dave Duerson, the NFLPA head sees plenty of bruises on the face of the league.
“I didn’t think that it was a good thing for our game to have our commissioner face what he faced on draft day. That’s not good for our game. It’s not good for our game when there’s a 22 percent drop-off of viewership from the draft. That’s not good for our game.
“It’s not good for our game that we’ve guys who played this game who can barely walk up steps. It’s not good for our game when we know that guys like Dave Duerson suffered from CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). We should be thinking about ways in which to make the game better and safer.”
Are you prepared for a season without pro football? Be heard in the comments below…