With the deadline for voting to ratify the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement extended to 11:59 p.m. Saturday, it now appears sentiment is leaning towards rejecting the proposal previously agreed upon by the owners and the National Football League Players Association.
Warning signs are appearing everywhere. Last week, Aaron Rodgers, perhaps the most outspoken critic of the agreement, spoke out again in opposition.
In an interview with ESPN Radio, Rodgers said he’s afraid too many of the NFL’s membership have not even bothered to read the proposed agreement.
“That’s probably the most disheartening thing,” Rodgers said. “This is a society we live in now that’s so distracted by the swiping world of apps and social media. I don’t know. Do guys really care about this stuff? Unfortunately, or fortunately – however you look at it – for the people wanting to push this deal through so badly, that’s kind of a win because nobody’s critically looking at this or thinking about it. They’re just like, ‘Oh, what’s my salary going to be? Oh, OK, cool.’ Not like, ‘Are we taking care of former players? What kind of additional player risks are we taking on? What are we getting in return for that?'”
Until last week, it appeared the document was on its way to receiving the simple majority required to extend the CBA for the next 10 years. But on Monday, it was revealed a number of players who had previously voted asked if they could change their selection.
The NFL player representatives voted down the resolution that would have allowed players to change their votes. Apparently, enough players had asked whether they could that NFL player reps came forward with the request.
That’s not a good sign for the CBA.
The voting window was extended to give players more time to look over the complicated 456-page document. The key elements for the players who have voted no remain improvements to health and wellness (expressed in their opposition to a 17-game schedule) and a desire to get more benefits.
Among those players certain to vote yes are those in favor of the many improved benefits, including increased minimum salaries, increased roster spots, better practice-squad pay and less hitting in training camp.
Rodgers repeated he’s not in favor of the new CBA because the players he represents in the Packers locker room were overwhelmingly against it.
“There’s not a lot of critical thinking going on,” Rodgers said. “There was a ton of information out there. I sent out the large email, and you email 73 guys; how many responses you think you’re getting back on this 2,000-word email that goes out? You’d be really disappointed to hear the actual answer. That’s the problem.
”I think we just haven’t had a chance to look at this critically and it’s kind of been pushed through, pushed through, pushed through, pushed through, and it’s bullet-point highlights in quotations with this deal that’s like, ‘Well, no, that’s not the whole deal’ and also ‘understand what you’re signing and what this means for the future of this game.’ I’d like to hit the pause button, but I’m not sure that’s even going to be a possibility. We’ll find out in a few days if this goes through or not.”
One of Rodgers biggest concerns is the possible misconceptions harbored by the league’s younger players who may be wowed simply by pay increases promised them.
“It’ll be interesting to see the numbers on who actually votes,” Rodgers said. “I know there’s a lot of us who have or will vote ‘No’ on this and believe that there’s a better deal to be made, but I know there’s guys who want to do it and see the minimum jump and are OK with 17 games, which, again, I don’t relate to that. But I understand there are some good things in it.”
Eventually, ballots from some 2,500 members will be filed.
“Every vote matters and we encourage all players to review the materials sent via email in order to make an informed decision,” the union wrote.
Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung, who just dropped out of the race for NFLPA president, was so concerned about how the voting would be conducted he filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, saying the NFLPA negotiated the agreement in bad faith.
Okung accused NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith of rushing to a vote despite objections from the union’s executive board.
The 32 NFL owners approved the deal last month. The NFLPA’s executive board rejected it, but the player reps voted 17-14 in favor. Every player who was a dues-paying member during the 2019 season received a ballot. Votes will be confidential.