I’m here in California at a celebrity golf invitational with former NFL greats like Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk and others so I just wanted to pass along the mood from these alums regarding the current labor situation in the NFL. The vibe I get is that guys just want to see the players get back to work, and that they really want an agreement over the next few months prior to the beginning of training camp.
There’s also a stark difference from the normal conversations at these alumni gatherings. Rather than discussing the draft or whether or not Aaron Rodgers has moved into the top tier of NFL quarterbacks, most of the attention is on the labor situation. The buzz is on who has leverage, what’s going to happen next, and so on. Retired players are also making a point that current players have to be very careful in how they workout because of not being covered under the league’s health coverage during this current labor impasse. You get a sense from talking with the retired players who have a chance to interact with the current players, that the current players want to be back on the football field- they miss the camaraderie and as much as the guys say they don’t want to be in the OTAs, they’re missing out on valuable time, especially for those teams that have new coaching staffs.
In talking with Hall of Famers like Jan Stenerud, who I had a chance to speak with, they just want to see football in 2011. They all feel like the end result is going to be positive, but there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding how the sides will get to that end-point. With only two days of mediation taking place this week before the June 3rd hearing, there’s most likely not going to be any movement until late June or early-July and that puts them right up against training camp, which normally begins at the end of July. The sense I get is that the last thing these alumni want to see is for pre-season games and quite possibly regular season games to be lost. All of the former players that I talk to feel the same way: they want to get this thing behind them, they want to get an agreement, and they want to get back on the football field. Also, the common theme among stars from other sports out here like Vince Coleman, Mike Eruzione, Dan Jansen,and others is that, like all football fans, is that they don’t want their football taken away from them this fall.
In summary, the overwhelming mood here among NFL alumni is they would like a return to normalcy by this fall so that the game they helped build up over the past several decades doesn’t experience a turn for the worse due to a continued work stoppage.
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