On Tuesday, NFL Players Association president Eric Winston doubled down on the comments made recently by the union's executive director, DeMaurice Smith, when he suggested to The MMQB's Albert Breer a work stoppage was "almost a virtual certainty" in 2021.
"Honestly I don't care and I don't think the guys in this locker room care whether [the NFL] is going to be around in 20 years, because none of us are going to be playing," Winston told WCPO in Cincinnati (h/t ESPN.com). "So if these guys [the owners] want to own for a long time, then they can own for a long time. But another work stoppage might kill the golden goose."
The Cincinnati Bengals tackle continued: "I'm certainly not worried about it. I'm not going to be around that long. I don't care if even if there are rookies in here—they're not going to be playing that long. So if this thing dies out in 20 years, it dies out in 20 years. That's not really my concern, and I don't think it's any of these players' concern in here either."
On ESPN's Outside the Lines, Smith backed up Winston after hearing his comments, calling him "a person who understands the frame and business of football."
"The owners locked us out the last time," Smith added. "They took the decision to make sure that people didn't have a place to work. They cut off the insurance to our families. They wanted to force an 18-game schedule. What are you supposed to do? Fight back, right?"
The current collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA lasts through 2020, and the union is already preparing players for a potential lockout or strike. Among the issues likely to be negotiated will be Roger Goodell's power to levy suspensions and appeals, the league's drug policy, the percentage of revenue given to players and issues like player safety and post-career benefits.
The last CBA was signed in Aug. 2011 after a lengthy negotiation and lockout. It would appear the 2021 CBA negotiations could be even more contentious and protracted.