Some NFLPA members have sharply different interests
Most unions consist of employees whose interests are aligned on nearly every issue. The NFL Players Association does not.
First, the position a player plays will strongly influence his views on work rules. Many players who face the most contact naturally won’t want to play 17 games, obviously. Some players who face the least amount of hitting (kickers, punters, snappers) naturally would be inclined to play as many as 20 or 30 games, if they in turn will get that many game checks.
Second, beyond the position that a player plays is the question of his job security. Every team has 53 players on the roster, along with 10 members of the practice squad. Of those 63 men, 20 at most know in any given year that they’ll definitely have jobs in the next season. For the other 43, concerns over playing in 17 games take a backseat to concerns over playing in one game.
Those 43 players per team won’t be playing for 10 years or longer, and they definitely won’t be signing a truly life-changing contract at any point in their careers. Maybe they’ll hang around for a total of three or four seasons, hovering far closer to the minimum than the maximum throughout their tenure in the league.
So with CBA voting open, who’s objecting to the deal the loudest? In nearly every case, it’s one of the 20 not one of the 43. That’s why many believe there’s a silent majority of players who have no reason to publicize their positions and who will vote overwhelmingly for the CBA.
Consider the comments from Giants tackle Nate Solder, who has consistently been among the 20 and who has cashed in with a market-value deal early in free agency.
“This is a great deal for the core players,” Solder recently told Peter King. “Minimum salaries would go up significantly, with bumped-up benefits for current players and retired players. We’d increase the practice squad [from 10 to 14 by 2022]. Work rules would improve. I don’t think it’s perfect, but we’re making incremental gains on player health and safety. Some players have fallen victim to the thought if we turn this down, we’ll get something better. We might, but we might not. You have a couple of guys on Twitter who have millions of followers criticizing the deal. Other guys who support it might have 5,000 followers. Their voices aren’t loud. In some ways, I’m trying to be a voice for the voiceless.”
But even the voiceless have a vote. And in assessing whether they’ll accept the judgment of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who presided over the negotiations on behalf of all players, that voiceless majority should indeed consider the potential benefits to them of taking the deal, along with the potential costs of not taking it. Unlike the 20-somethings on each roster, the players with short careers and low earnings may be far less concerned about an extra game (especially since none of them are starters) than they are about the various other things that Solder identified.
Ultimately, each player has to make his own decision. And if a player whose interests point to voting yes decide to vote no because star players are taking to Twitter to say that they should, that’s their prerogative.