Most fans must be pleased with the perceived closeness of a deal on the table that was just agreed upon by the NFL owners after months of a lockout that has become the longest in league history. Of course, any level of negotiations and concessions on both sides becomes positive news in an off-season where no news is bad news. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the maneuvers today to approve their half of a proposed labor deal is the icing on a cake fans have been waiting to light.
Instead, several NFL players are calling foul on the owners for pulling such a move. Chris Long urges patience via his Twitter account when he writes, “we definitely owe you guys a season but we need to make sure we all get this right… thanks for yalls patience.” Vonnie Holliday tweets, “Please don’t get excited about that press conference. The owners have agreed on a deal we the players have not seen! This is not consistent.”
On an angrier note, Ryan Clark writes, “Please don’t get excited about that press conference. The owners have agreed on a deal we the players have not seen! This is not consistent.” And finally, Heath Evans uses a hashtag of #PRPlay and writes, "Here is what the “Real” fans need 2 know: The owners tried 2 slip many things n2 the CBA “they” voted on that were NEVER agreed 2!"
In short, it seems that players across the board are balking at provisions never seen before and a contract that was signed so publicly at the deadline, knowing that every NFL fan would bob their head over the player’s side like a chess match waiting for the right move — which is to sign.
The players have a few options at this point. If they want to, they should sign after a couple of days to check it out and ratify the deal as is. If the players don’t sign at this point, they must put forth a very clear, understandable explanation to fans why they are not signing it, or else they will come out the clear losers in this deal. If the players delay the offseason to the point where games are lost, then fans will ultimately side with the owners simply for the sake of putting a product on the field.
As of this point, it was a smart move by the owners to be the first ones to sign an agreement. The players had to know that the first side with pen in hand is going to be the hero of the moment. The players lose and the owners knew exactly what they were doing. Unless the owners make a concession soon or the players just suck it up, it still might be a while.
Make sure to check out more SB Nation coverage of the lockout over at our NFL headquarters.