As we move toward an NFL labor deal that now seems close at hand, one of the few potential roadblocks is the Brady v. NFL antitrust case. And not even necessarily the case as a whole – rather, the issue may surround four different players who are a part of the case. Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Patriots lineman Logan Mankins reportedly want either unrestricted free agency or $10 million for themselves after each sitting out much of 2010 in contract disputes, while similar reports had premier passers Peyton Manning and Drew Brees asking for exemptions from the franchise tag.
Yahoo!’s report called Brees and Manning “far less likely to create problems,” since both recently publicly urged both sides to get a deal done. But if either report about the aforementioned four players proved: 1) true, and 2) a threat to closing a deal between the players and owners, you would likely see a lot of people unhappy with at least a couple of the Jackson/Mankins/Manning/Brees group – including players who are anxious to get preparation for the season underway. That includes Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who made his displeasure known earlier today:
Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being ‘that guy’. #douchebags
That’s…forthright. And, Yahoo! NFL reporter Michael Silver thought, maybe a little too extreme. We can understand Kluwe’s frustration (even if he’s lol, a punter) at seeing that just when it looks like he can resume his usual routine, the wishes of a few could potentially undermine months of waiting. But…douchebags? That reminds us of when Bears GM Jerry Angelo shot back at fellow player ripping Jay Cutler with the line, “I thought they were a union.” The NFL’s players have banded together for so long – now we get signs of dissension, just as a deal’s supposedly about to be struck?
Kluwe said he didn’t see it that way, though. He downplayed the seriousness of his remarks to Silver, and while he acknowledged to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that he thought the idea of making demands so close to the endgame was “kind of like blackmail,” he described his tweet as “a mix of both” messing around and genuinely calling out what he saw as hypocrisy. (Of course, we also shouldn’t overlook the possibility that Kluwe’s downplaying his own comments as a form of damage control.)
But if the most recent news is any indication, maybe Kluwe has nothing to be worried about anyway. One executive for the players association told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that “any media reports of a last-minute power play by players are misleading and erroneous,” and NFL Network’s Albert Breer said earlier this evening that there’s little left to do but put the deal up for a vote. We just can’t see any players – having, as best we can tell, won the PR battle with the owners throughout the lockout process – holding up the completion of a deal. Whether some of the players are douchebags or no, NFL football is about to open for business – and it’s hard to find anything bad to say about that.