NFLPA starts spreading its message

NFLPA starts spreading its message
January 11, 2011, 9:35 pm
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 4:34 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer
CSNwashington.com

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Two weeks ago, following the Redskins final practice for possibly months because of a lockout, veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday stressed the importance of the NFL Players Association spreading their message.

We can now make the public aware of the issues and where we stand, said Holliday, the Redskins player representative.

That process kicked into a higher gear Tuesday during an hour-long conference call with the media and player representatives Scott Fujita and Dominque Foxworth.

Chief among the topics covered was that the players expect to be locked out on March 3 even if commissioner Roger Goodell said last month he believed a deal could be done before the Super Bowl.

If people are so concerned about a lockout and if the league really believes a deal can get done, then guarantee to the fans that there wont be a lockout, said George Atallah, the NFLPAs assistant director for external affairs. The clock is ticking. Fifty days left.

Its obvious to the players that the league has been preparing for this for three years. Weve gotten to the point where unfortunately reality is starting to set in.

Said Foxworth: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Atallah said no talks between the NFLPA and the league are scheduled.

Last week, Holliday said a meeting is scheduled for Jan. 18 for first-time player reps but also veteran reps like himself.

Among the topics covered during the conference call:

One major point of emphasis for the players in their goal of earning public support is saying how much impact a lockout would have on people not employed by the teams.

If theres a lockout, everybody is going to lose, said Fujita, a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns. Thats the bottom line.

Foxworth said its important for the players to go to Capitol Hill to meet with politicians.

The NFL owners have been lobbying on Capitol Hill for a number of years, said Foxworth, the Maryland alum who is on the Baltimore Ravens injured reserve list. Its important they see our faces, too, and that theres another team playing in this game. Their image of the NFL has only been the owners and management.

When the lockout starts, the players will have to pay for their own health coverage and wont be allowed to rehabilitate their injuries under the guidance of team trainers.

Fujita said teammates were shocked when he informed them of how much insurance would cost. He said his monthly bill will be 2,000 to cover himself, his wife and their two children.

The players arent going to budge on the current proposal of 18 regular season games in a 19-week schedule.

Theres nothing on the table from their end that will make one player consider playing 18 games, Fujita said.

The NFLPA said 352 players finished the season on injured reserve (costing them more than 3,000 man games) and the numbers didnt change even after the league distributed a midseason video about hits to the head.

The rules arent clear and consistent, Foxworth said. I could go through a number of game films and find things that were fined and werent fined and they looked similar.

Said Fujita: The majority of the players walked out of that meeting watching the video more confused about what is legal and what isnt legal than when they walked into that meeting. Thats a problem.

Foxworth said veterans arent concerned younger players might crack and push for a resolution.

If Ray Lewis tells our young guys we need them to do this or do that, it would be very unlikely for a young guy no matter their experience level to go against what the vets are saying, Foxworth said.

Before the Redskins final game, Holliday said owners have no reason to be over-eager in closing a deal.

Theyre not making any money in the off-season, he said. People will still watch the draft. Until you get close to the season where they be a possibility of not playing those games, thats when there will be a sense of urgency for the owners.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com