Ravens' players react to decertification

With the NFL in crisis due to a chaotic, nasty labor dispute that's now in litigation, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington is crossing his fingers that there will be actual games next fall. "I want us to have football," Washington told the Carroll County Times during a Friday night telephone interview. "I'm not sure.

Washington said he fully expects a lockout.

"At this point, you know that's coming next," he said. "It wouldn't make sense for the owners not to lock out the players at this point."

Acrimony ensued Friday as the NFL and NFL Players Association's mediation ended with both sides pointing fingers at each other. The league claimed that the union didn't bargain in good faith and a union lawyer called league executive Jeff Pash a liar. The union officially filed for decertification, and then filed an antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota.

"It got bad, I didn't know how ugly it got," Washington said. "We're just not agreeing. Both sides want to win. Both sides want to say they won. I think we need to get a deal that's fair for both sides, make it a win-win for both sides. "We need a deal that's going to last. I'm not talking about three years. Don't just do a deal to do a deal. It needs to be something that's going to stand for a long time."

Financially and otherwise, Washington said he's prepared for a lengthy work stoppage or lockout. "I'm ready, I've been getting prepared for this for the last two years," Washington said. "I've got my COBRA insurance and my finances are straight. I'm pretty good." Washington said he rarely gets emotional about the business of sports, but this situation bothers him greatly. "My favorite line is, 'It is what it is,' but I'm a little frustrated," he said. "I wanted something to get done, but this thing needs to get done right."

Although average salaries are high around the NFL, many young players aren't millionaires. That reality tends to get obscured when the labor strife is characterized as billionaires versus millionaires.

"I do feel sorry for some of the free agent rookies from last year and the seventh-rounders and sixth-rounders," Washington said. "Those guys have to suffer along with everybody else. Remember, you've got to pay Uncle Sam and your agent fees. Your money gets chopped away real quick. "It's not what you get paid. It's what you get to take home. There's a bunch of hundred-thousandaires. That's the majority of the league is hundred-thousandaires. Some millionaires are sitting back waiting and not working, but a lot of guys need to be at work."

Shortly after the union made its announcement, Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain reacted with a prediction via his Twitter account. "Man I think it's about to be a lockout," McClain wrote. "And we are the ones playing the game every Sunday, blood, sweat and tears for our fans and team." Washington said he fully approves of the job that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is doing.

"I think De is doing a fantastic job," Washington said. "I'm behind him 110 percent. De is a lawyer, not a football player running a union. He's going to put us in the best situation possible."

An unrestricted free agent, Washington said he'll continue his normal work regimen as if the season is going to start on time.

"I'm going to keep working out because you can get a call any day," Washington said. "You can't be out of shape. I'm preparing as if we're going to have a full season. I've still got hope."

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