Donald Trump's NFL attacks created a bond between players, owners



Donald Trump inadvertently may have guaranteed there is no work stoppage in the NFL in 2021.


The 10-year collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season and NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith said in August, “I think that the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout is almost a virtual certainty.”


Smith, a former trial lawyer and litigation partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm, is a natural at agitating and lives for confrontation. He has four more years to get the players worked up. Of course, half of them will be out of the league by then.


His posturing had already begun… and along came Trump.


The moment Trump called any player who was not standing for the National Anthem a “son of a bitch,” he created a bond between the players and the owners that had never before existed. The owners had to defend the players. The players appreciated the support of the owners.

AFP-OUT

Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the NFL in recent weeks.

(Pool/Getty Images)


Even though seven owners had contributed $1 million to either Trump’s campaign or inauguration, they had to side with their employees.


It’s simple: No players, no game.


That first weekend after Trump made his comments on Sept. 22 prompted unprecedented cooperation between the owners and the players with some owners joining the players on the sideline for the anthem. They will be working closely together on social issues and programs, and if all goes well, I think this will carry over into a spirit of cooperation when CBA negotiations commence.


In the last few weeks, there’s been multiple meetings between owners and players at the NFL offices on Park Avenue to devise strategies for the social issues that are so important to many African-American players, who comprise about 70% of the league. This past Tuesday, 11 owners and 13 players along with Smith and Roger Goodell met for nearly four hours.


The consensus was the discussion and the joint projects, which many of the owners made a point of saying were just as important to them as the players, has created a strong appreciation for one another.


Now, if you want to be cynical, never a bad idea when dissecting the intentions of billionaire owners: They were attempting to buy off the players and trade their vast resources in exchange for all players standing for the anthem. But if the anthem kneeling leads to the NFL pressuring for and enacting social reform, isn’t that the goal?

A SEPT. 24, 2017 FILE PHOTO

Several Lions players kneel during the national anthem.

(Duane Burleson/AP)


Goodell said Wednesday only about six players are still taking a knee. 49ers safety Eric Reid, who took part in Tuesday’s meeting, and Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett, who was not there, plan to continue to kneel. Eventually, Goodell wants the number to get to zero.


The anthem protest is costing the NFL money. Ratings are down 7.5% from the first six weeks last year and nearly 19% from the first six weeks in 2015. There is no election to blame this year.


A large segment of the fans have been turned off by the anthem protests. Let’s not forget, when the owners lose money, the players lose money. Any shortfall in projected revenue directly impacts the money that goes into the salary cap pool, which is then used to pay player salaries and bonuses.


Any player with guaranteed money will not be affected. But if revenue is down significantly, teams will be asking players to take a cut on their non-guaranteed money and free agent money in the next few years could also take a hit.


The anthem issue was fading away with only eight players kneeling in Week 2. Then Trump insulted the players and ignited it.


The unintended consequence is Trump has brought the owners and players closer instead of dividing them, which could eventually lead to a new CBA without a work stoppage.


Why is Trump going after the NFL with such passion?


As I mentioned recently, he has hated the NFL ever since his failed lawsuit in 1986 to force his way into the league with his USFL New Jersey Generals and most recently his failed bid in 2014 to buy the Buffalo Bills.


Trump couldn’t join them, so he’s trying to destroy them.


OVER-INFLATED


It’s so disingenuous for ESPN to be creating headlines that Eli Manning was voted the most overrated quarterback in a poll of players.


Why?


– Each of the 32 teams has a 53-man active roster. That’s 1,696 players. Only the defensive players were polled. That’s about 850 players.


– ESPN said its reporters polled 155 players. That’s 18% of the defensive players.


– There were 72 responses to the most overrated QB question. That’s 8.4% of the defensive players in the league. How is that a representative sample ?


– Manning was the No. 1 vote getter with 14% of the 72 ballots cast. Do you know what 14% of 72 votes is? Quick math: 10.08 votes. Andrew Luck was second with 11%, followed by Joe Flacco at 10% and Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford at 7%.


So, ESPN is declaring Manning was named the most overrated QB in the league because 10 players said so. Ten.


DEREK FAVRE


Derek Carr is the new Brett Favre. Total gunslinger. One difference: He takes better care of the ball. Carr broke three bones in his back on Oct. 1 and missed just one game. That’s Favrian. Carr led a wild drive at the end of the game Thursday night to beat the Chiefs to break a four-game losing streak. Favre pulled out games like that all the time. Carr wears No. 4 because Favre is his hero… Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch should have been suspended three games – the league announced a one-game ban on Friday – for running off the sideline in the second quarter, grabbing and shoving an official and interjecting himself in a scuffle after Chiefs CB Marcus Peters hit Carr late when he was going down. Coming off the sideline should get Lynch one game. Making contact with an official should get him another two. That’s about as bad as it gets. The Raiders won’t miss Beast Mode. He has just 266 yards rushing and is averaging 3.7 yards per carry. He averaged 3.8 in 2015 in Seattle before retiring for one year… Lynch and Peters are close and according to Richard Sherman, they are cousins. There is speculation Lynch came off the bench as much to protect Peters from his Raiders teammates as to protect Carr… Lynch sat in the stands after he was ejected but was back in the locker room after the game.


28-3


The Falcons warmed up for their Super Bowl rematch Sunday night against the Patriots by blowing a 17-0 halftime lead to the Dolphins last week at home. The Patriots warmed up by coming from 14-0 down in the second quarter on the road to beat the Jets. The Falcons held a 28-3 lead on the Pats in Super Bowl LI with 17 minutes remaining and lost in overtime. Atlanta (3-2) is suffering from a Super Bowl hangover and the Patriots (4-2) are suffering from not having a defense.


Tom Brady has won five close Super Bowls but his two losses are by a total of seven points to the Giants. He knows how tough it is coming back from a devastating Super Bowl loss. “Those games live with you the rest of your life,” he said. “You’d rather be in that game than not be in that game, win or lose. It’s great to win and it sucks to lose, but that’s playing sports.”


It took Brady four years to get back to the Super Bowl after the first loss to the Giants and three years after the second loss.


Matt Ryan’s MVP season was spoiled by the Super Bowl loss. “I think it’s always going to be a part of you,” Ryan said.


At their home opener in September, the Patriots posted ATL 28, NE 3 2:12 3Rd QTR on the scoreboard panels in the stadium before the game. Goodell should have penalized the Patriots for excessive celebration.


Robert Kraft designed Super Bowl rings with 283 diamonds – get it? 28-3 – in each ring. At the very least, Goodell should have fined Kraft for giving a Super Bowl ring to Trump.


FOR DWIGHT


Out for the season before the season even reached Halloween: Odell Beckham Jr., J.J. Watt and likely Aaron Rodgers. That’s a lot of star power… Dwight Clark, who revealed in March that he is suffering from ALS, will be honored by the 49ers at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. Clark made “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC title game against the Cowboys that preceded the first of the 49ers’ five Super Bowl titles. Joe Montana will speak at the ceremonies and 35 members of the ’81 49ers team are expected to attend “87 Day,” which was Clark’s number. Nice event for a really good man.


FEELING SNOOPY


The Seahawks may have the 12s – that’s what they called their fans, as in 12th man – in Seattle, but they managed to develop a home field advantage at MetLife Stadium as well where they are 4-0. The Seahawks beat the Giants by a combined score of 59-25 in 2011 and 2013, they beat the Jets, 27-17, in 2016 and they beat the Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII following the 2013 season. Total: Seahawks 129, Giants-Jets-Broncos 50… Zeke Elliott and the NFL keep trading victories in court. Elliott’s victory last week allows him to play the next two weeks in San Francisco and Washington, then it’s back to court. Elliott seems distracted. He is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry with two TDs in five games after averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 15 TDs last year.

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