Disappointment, anger over NFL labor woes
Friday, March 11, 2011; 8:44 PM
-- Anger and disappointment were the predominant emotions throughout the football world and beyond after the NFL players' union decertified Friday, hours before the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement with the league.
The impasse could lead to NFL owners locking out the players. Ten players, including star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, filed antitrust lawsuits Friday to prevent a lockout.
"It's a sad day for football," said free agent offensive lineman Damien Woody, who played the last three seasons with the New York Jets.
"I'm sad that it had to come to his. As players, we didn't want this, but we felt like it was the only option we had. We didn't opt out of the CBA two years go. The owners did. Now, it has become a situation that we have to leave it to the lawyers and courts to hopefully bring this to a resolution that is best for everybody."
Hall of Famer Mike Ditka saw the stalemate as selfish, fearing retired players will be hurt the most if the NFL shuts down. "What this is about is the people in the game, the owners and the players," said the former Bears tight end and, later, Chicago's coach. "That's all they care about."
As for talks breaking off, he added: "I think it's wrong. I don't see any reason for that to happen. ... I am surprised and I'm disappointed. I think fans are losers more than anybody."
Tennessee defensive end Jason Babin, a free agent after a Pro Bowl season, warned not to expect players to break ranks and abandon each other. That happened in the last work stoppage 24 years ago, when dozens of players crossed picket lines and the players' strike failed.
"It's a lot different than it was in 1987. There's not going to be guys bagging groceries," he said. "I mean, we clued in people to save money this year, saving every other check. I think the majority of guys took that seriously and understood how important that was.
"On top of that, we've been preparing for this for years, putting money away in different programs we have. It's not going to be as big a shock to the system as it was in 1987."
Groups representing American workers and U.S. businesses also weighed in, taking their expected positions.
"Working people stand shoulder to shoulder with the players and their right to protect themselves and their families through antitrust laws that prohibit illegal and greedy corporate behavior," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Randel K. Johnson, whose organization represents the interests of more than 3 million businesses, said that "gaming the labor laws and the antitrust laws offers a potentially disastrous model for labor-management relations in this country and raises serious questions of labor policy."