Steelers player representative Ryan Clark spoke at length today about his unhappiness over the lack of movement on several issues that have to be resolved before the players officially ratify the new collective bargaining agreement.
One of those is the process in which commissioner Roger Goodell fines players. Clark said the players want more of a say in how that works as well as an appeals process in which they have more representation.
Free agents that have signed scheduled to start practicing again Thursday. But that will be put on hold if the players don’t ratify the CBA.
What follows are excerpts of what Clark said following a Steelers walk through this morning.
On difference between players and Goodell when it comes to discipline and specifically the appeals process
“It has to be collectively bargained who else can be on this. Right now he doesn’t want anyone else on it. He wants to do it his way, I think the way he has taken over most of this game. How often did you hear Paul Tagliabue’s name throughout the season? Hardly ever other than it being on the ball. I think he’s decided to make himself a major part of this game. I don’t if he had some type of high school dreams or Pop Warner dreams of being an NFL football player but he’s made himself the NFL. He’s the most popular or infamous commissioner in sports right now. Maybe that’s what he wanted to be. He doesn’t work with us, he doesn’t work for us. We want somebody on the process that does.”
On not being entirely comfortable with the CBA when the players reps voted unanimously to approve it.
“Initially with me going along for the first decision was for me to get guys into camp, to get unrestricted free agents an opportunity to get on teams, to get unrestricted free agents to give undrafted free agents an opportunity to make teams so it was a totalilty of the deal that we were looking at but there were some points of the deal that were supposed to be bargaining in good faith and right now some of those things aren’t being bargained in good faith. We decided to put our trust in the owners and Roger Goodell in a sense to say, ‘OK, we’re to sign this deal we’re going to do the things that you want us to do as far as re-certify to get these things that you said you would collectively bargain with us to get those things done and get football going. Obviously preseason is an extremely important part of the revenue system. But we also, with the way that the new deal is structured, will benefit from this so it’s about the owners and also the players. We need some things to be collectively bargained and in good faith and in totality to get this deal done.”
On being surprised at these late complications
“I expected the owners and Roger Goodell to negotiate in good faith and that is why I stood in front of the guys and said I was going to sign the (union) card, that I was going to go along with the what executive committee and De Smith decided was an extremely fair deal for both sides. I didn’t expect to be standing here today, having to talk about this. I thought that Ike Taylor and Willie Gay and Willie Colon would be at practice tomorrow but right now that doesn’t seem like the case so we’ll just have to push through and see what’s going to be the next step in this long process.”
At what point does the preparation of free agents that can’t practice until a CBA is ratified get compromised?
“Each person is different. Honestly, I could play a game tomorrow, condition-wise, football-wise, knowing the system. It just all depends on who the guy is. It all depends on what type of work they put in the offseason, it depends on where they are mentally so I think that’s going to vary. I feel like honestly, Ike Taylor could not practice the whole preseason and be effective Day One but you can’t say that for every guy so I think that question relative to how it affects each person.”