NFL Players Association …. unified or divided?

January 28, 2011 |

In just nine days, the National Football League hosts the most important game of the season. But, after the final whistle blows and all the confetti finds its way to the ground, the REAL battle begins …..

Or does it?

We’re led to believe this latest war of tension between NFL owners and the Players Association is going to be one of monumental proportions, and a contentious struggle that begins with a lockout, in March.

Ownership certainly has the strength of assets and business savvy in their arsenal of overall power …..

Players are relying on the reality that they’re the only product the public wants to see when the calendar reaches September and beyond …..

Who blinks first?

I haven’t encountered a single soul who believes Steve Bisciotti, Robert Kraft, Jimmy Irsay and their collection of “partners” will EVER raise a white flag and concede to any public pressures, without mandating their will and sanction.

Owners say very little, individually. And, for a guy like me, that’s a very loud statement, in itself.

Conversely, players have displayed a weaker symbolized structure, with some members breaking ranks in the simplest terms of deviating from the union stance of disseminating information and views through appointed representatives.

That’s right, I’m referring to buffoons, like Antonio Cromartie …..

Earlier this week, Cromartie spoke out about his frustrations regarding the likelihood of an impending work stoppage. In his typical style, his words were riddled with profanity and disrespect for colleagues and league leaders.

Guys like Antonio Cromartie are absolute liabilities for assembled groups of individuals, who unify for a cause. As the union fights for the WHOLE GROUP, he simply bitches and bemoans his own personal plight.

Cromartie’s comments were so incendiary, that fellow union member, Ray Lewis, spoke out in an effort to diffuse any suggestions of a perceived division among players. Matt Hasselbeck also joined in, via Twitter, and inquired about Cromartie’s knowledge of the letters “CBA.”

Did the veteran leaders get through to the combustible youngster? Yeah, right …..

Antonio Cromartie was clear in his response; he doesn’t care about Ray Lewis and he’s “gonna smash (Matt Hasselbeck’s) face.”

Nice, huh?

Perhaps, many observers will think such Springer-like antics are no big deal. However, I think these incidents serve as an indication of the demeanor of some players, and their inept character in contrast to ownership.

Did you notice how Jay Cutler’s fellow union members feasted upon his carcass, via Twitter, during last Sunday’s NFC Championship Game? I don’t care if they like him or not …. such conduct represents immaturity and classlessness.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Jerry Hairston about the upcoming baseball season. During our conversation, he remarked about the Cutler postings, while proclaiming that baseball players never do such things, publicly, to each other.

He also pointed out that baseball players have the strongest union organization among professional athletes. Hairston reiterated the strong support players have for each other and their collective assembly as the overriding assets in union dominance.

I think he’s right.

More pointedly, I think the NFL’s Players Association might be embroiled in turmoil, sooner rather than later – especially if guys like Antonio Cromartie are going to start whining before matters get tough.

And, I don’t think any of us will be surprised …..