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"Lockout" Archive


Cromartie’s “Asshole” Comment Reflects Player Anxiety About Lockout; Thoughts on Jay Cutler

In an interview not long after the Jets lost the AFC Championship game to the Steelers, Jets Cornerback Antonio Cromartie said both NFL and NFLPA leadership were “acting like assholes.” However, inarticulate, Cromartie’s comments accurately reflect two things: increasing anxiety from the players about the possibility of a lockout and an oversimplification of the problems involved.

In terms of the reality, I think a lot of players have buried their heads in the sand thus far. Despite repeated warnings from the NFLPA that a lockout seems imminent, most players have been caught up with the season, nursing injuries, and focusing on advancing to the next round. Now that the playoffs are officially over and players are home with their families the potential lockout has become a little more real.

Cromartie in particular has several children and a wife to support, so the possibility of missing out on a year’s salary-not to mention shaving a year off his football career and earning potential-is probably pretty scary both in the short and long term.

Having said that, I think he’s still oversimplifying things and may want to actually learn the issues rather than lash out at those trying to help him.

Although NFL and NFLPA leadership may be assholes (I have no proof one way or the other) there are some real issues on the table. The business model needs a revamp and the owners are not budging on their position to lessen health insurance and add two more games. A lot has to be settled by March 3 when the Collective Bargaining Agreement Expires.

I am terribly afraid of missing an entire season of football, but from the player’s perspective, missing a season may still be a much better prospect than having the NFLPA agree to terms that cause a permanent regression in player treatment by the NFL.

Winston Justice wrote this for the Philadelphia Daily News:

As a player, I know our health insurance expires March 3 and will not be renewed. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo already told me that after March 3, neither he nor any of the staff will be able to contact players or they will risk losing their jobs. I have heard rumors of players’ pregnant wives asking to be induced into labor early before their health benefits are cut short. It is really an unsettling and unfortunate time.

I also have read a lot of articles recently and have seen a lot of fans who don’t seem to understand the players’ worries over the current bargaining situation. But I assure you, it is not just about millionaire players wanting more millions. Fact of the matter is, most guys aren’t millionaires, and, although they are making a good living, many need to play to sustain their livelihood. The average NFL career lasts less than 4 years, and the owners know that. The players are not the ones going on strike. The NFLPA, on behalf of all players, asked to continue the agreement from 2006, but the owners declined. They will lock us out. It’s also not just about players. The lockout will affect people in every NFL city around the country. It will hurt local business owners, employees at restaurants, hotels, and all of the great people who work at Lincoln Financial Field, on game day, just to name a few.


Most of what can and should be said about Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler’s exit from the NFC Championship game has been covered. But let me clarify a few things, I agree with Bears Safety Chris Harris’ comments that criticism of Cutler’s so-called “toughness” was “absurd.”  Cutler is not known for being cooperative publicly, but his toughness has never been in question. After all, this is a guy who was sacked 52 times during the regular season and never once complained (even privately apparently) about the hits and lack of protection.

I also think that players who commented in criticism of Cutler during the game broke that unspoken code of respect among men in the NFL.For players to attack Cutler from their couches and smart-phones was shocking to me and I was glad to see some of them had enough decency to backpeddle.

As far as the fans are concerned, everybody’s a tough guy from the bar stool. Many insisted upon comparing Cutler’s injury to the time San Diego Chargers Quarterback Phillip Rivers’ played with the same injury but those comparisons are incomplete. Rivers sat out the remainder of the game in which he tore his MCL, had surgery a few days later and was fitted with a special playing brace. When Rivers returned to play the Patriots in the AFC Championship, a game that San Diego lost 21-12, Rivers was 19 for 37 for 211 yards and a passer rating of 46.1. Not exactly a strong case for playing with an MCL tear.

Even if Cutler’s knee could have been stabilized, standing behind the Bears porous offensive line would have been a mistake. When the ball is in play, every player on the field needs, no, DESERVES, to have some ability to protect himself. A torn ligament in this instance would have left Cutler vulnerable to further serious injury. I think both players and fans forget that players have been paralyzed in this league, I’m glad that the Bears and their trainers didn’t.

PS: Kudos to @sixersfandre for his amazing football memory.

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