On Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chief Negotiator Jeff Pash made it public that they'd forfeit all but two cents of their 2011 salaries, roughly $15 million between the two of them, until a new deal is forged with the players.
Now if they really want to make a statement to the NFLPA and the players themselves, they should donate all $ 15 million of their 2011 salaries to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund to help former NFL players who need financial assistance for medical expenses, housing and food.
Now that would turn some heads.
On the flip side, NFPLA Union Chief DeMaurice Smith said if a deal gets done before the Super Bowl, he'd lower his salary to .66 cents. And thus the saga and War continues.
Smith goes on to comment to anyone who will listen that he believes the NFL is going to lock out the players when the current CBA expires on March 4th. I happen to believe that's not the case. Why would they?
As I stated in my article earlier this week the new Television Packages that the NFL can garner with labor peace and a 18-game regular season could surpass $12 Billion.
Though some of the players I spoke with could care less in regards to the number of games played, to get that passed among the players, the Owners do have to up the ante.
The NFL Owners must increase medical benefits to extend well past the years that each vested NFL player receives at the moment. For instance, if you don't play a certain number of games or years, you don't get Union benefits or medical aid after you're done playing. Thus if you play less than three years and you get injured while under contract, you get an injury settlement and 18 months of Cobra. To be fair, that's more on the Union than the Owners. They set those rules not the owners.
Still the Owners have to be willing to do a better job to financially aid the men who sacrificed their bodies the last four decades to make the NFL what it is today.
In my view, once you step foot on a football field, regardless of how long you play, the NFL and the Union should take care of you for life or at least for the next twenty years of your life. And with $12 billion in the coffers, there is more than enough money to give players medical insurance for any length of time; once they've taken their final snap in the NFL.
It's a major injustice the way NFL Owners and the Union itself has turned their backs on the former players. That injustice aside, the current players really are upset about their own bottom line.
The rank and file of the NFLPA can talk a tough game about unity but it boils down to one simple individual fact. The players don't want to pay for a lifetime of medical injuries once they hang up the cleats, because that eats into their earnings.
So when a player like Cromartie, who has nine children, we understand his motivation to get a new deal done. He needs all the medical insurance he can get. Sure there are limits to what a Medical Plan should do for a player and their families but everyone can admit that the system is broken.
And despite an increase in the technology of the equipment that NFL players where on Sunday, the physical nature of the sport is getting more intense by the year. College athletes enter the NFL in tremendous physical shape. And those that manage to maintain themselves during their careers in the NFL often do so at great sacrifice to their body.
Even further, players who want to play longer than their bodies can handle, risk staying in the game far too long and they become susceptible to a career ending injury that places their quality of life after football in peril.
But sooner or later the game will produce a life ending injury. Sadly it's inevitable.
And for that reason alone, that should be at the core of resolving this dispute. All the NFL Owners have to do is agree to take some of that extra TV revenue to help the players cover their medical costs well beyond the point when their careers have ended. In fact, without hesitation, they should be willing to take care of their players, future, past and present. If they do that, the 18-game regular season schedule is a no-brainer.
Once that's accomplished, the two sides can agree to expand the 53-man rosters to 58 during the regular season. And further on game days, teams can dress 50 players rather than the current league mandated 45.
That means that extra medical coverage should cover any injuries sustained by an NFL player, short term or long term for playing a pair of meaningful games. It would also put more NFL players to work with guaranteed contracts.
Still the NFL can't ignore the toll this game takes on the bodies of the athletes that play the sport. And this is the place that extra revenues should go.
But the players also have to agree to do their share with former players as well. A large chunk of their dues should not go to people like Smith and his associates but instead that money should immediately go into a pool to help former players that have hit hard times, especially those that can't afford a simple aspirin.
In the end, it really isn't all that complicated. A deal is within reach and if the Commissioner and the Union Chief will stop bickering in the media, they could get something done in a single afternoon.
That is if they can stop puffing out their chests long enough to understand that they aren't as big as they think they are in this dispute. But they are big enough to act like men and settle their differences for the good of the game itself.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Will a long term health plan, get a deal done in this dispute?
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