More added at 10:33 a.m.
The situation as players arrived at NFL training facilities in the wake of the lifting of the owners’ lockout is one of “chaos,” according to DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association (now a trade association since decertification).
“To our fans, I look upon this today on one hand, I’m glad that the players’ lawsuit to lift the lockout and bring football back for our fans — I’m certainly happy for that. On the other hand, we’re in a world where there are a lot of other things happening — I know that our fans love football and to be in a state where frankly the National Football League is allowing this kind of chaos to occur — I’m not sure it’s a great day for football in the long run,” Smith said in an interview on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” show.
Smith was asked about the draft and whether players could be packaged in trades.
“...I hate to sound sarcastic, but I’m not the commissioner of the National Football League. He’s [Roger Goodell] the commissioner of the league and we’re in a world where the owners in the National Football League opted out of a contract that was fine.
“They went to the Supreme Court to try to stick it to the players and they lost [Steven Pearlstein on the American Needle case].
“They tried to keep revenue sharing from happening in 2010 and they lost.
“A judge ruled that they gamed the TV contracts to keep the players out and they lost.
“And then they locked the players out and took football away from our fans and yesterday they lost. This is just not good for our fans, it’s not great for our players and to be in a world where guys are showing up because they want to play football and they’re being told to either go home or that, magically, today this is the day that the strength coach has off...I mean, look. It’s petty and small at best, but for a world that loves this game and for fans who have done nothing for the last 50 years but be loyal to their teams, I’m not sure it’s the right way to treat our fans.”
On whether players should be allowed to work out today and collect workout bonuses:
“I’m not sure ... that it’s really a question of ‘should.’ The court ruled yesterday that the lockout is illegal and it’s lifted. So it seems to me that it’s not really a question of ‘should,’ it’s really a question of what’s the law of the land and whether the National Football League will comply with it.
“Players, I know many of them, had bonuses due on dates certain that may have passed, that would have been paid but for the lockout. We expect those bonuses to be paid. But more than anything else, yesterday a court ruled that the league broke the law and that lockout should be lifted and every now and then we kind of flip into whether this is a maneuver or this is a game or this is some kind of tactic. The players just want to play football. That’s all that this thing was about.
“I read the commissioner’s [Wall Street Journal] op-ed this morning and my only conclusion is that it’s bizarre. To say that the players don’t want a draft and don’t want football...we didn’t lock ourselves out. We didn’t game the TV contracts to hurt us. And if he truly believes that the draft is something we’re attacking, then I don’t know what’s going to happen on Thursday, but the last time I checked my calendar, the draft is scheduled to move forward.”