Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized his fellow NFL players in a radio interview Friday, saying many are not doing their due diligence to understand the complexities of the proposed new collective bargaining agreement.
Rodgers told ESPN Wisconsin's Wilde and Tausch (h/t ESPN's Rob Demovsky) he thinks players are more concerned with small points, like their individual salaries, than the larger picture:
"That's probably the most disheartening thing. This is a society we live in now that's so distracted by the swiping world of apps and social media. I don't know. Do guys really care about this stuff? Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you look at it, for the people wanting to push this deal through so badly that's kind of a win because nobody's critically looking at this or thinking about it. They're just like, 'Oh, what's my salary going to be? Oh, OK, cool.' Not like, 'Are we taking care of former players? What kind of additional player risks are we taking on? What are we getting in return for that?'"
Rodgers, a player rep who voted against the proposed CBA, said he sent out a lengthy email to teammates that explained the finer points of his reasoning. However, he "got next to no responses" from his teammates:
"There's not a lot of critical thinking going on. There was a ton of information out there. I sent out the large e-mail and you e-mail 73 guys. How many responses you think you're getting back on this 2,000-word e-mail that goes out? You'd be really disappointed to hear the actual answer. That's the problem. I think we just haven't had a chance to look at this critically and it's kind of been pushed through, pushed through, pushed through, pushed through, and it's bullet-point highlights in quotations with this deal that's like, 'Well, no, that's not the whole deal' and also 'understand what you're signing and what this means for the future of this game.' I'd like to hit the pause button, but I'm not sure that's even going to be a possibility. We'll find out in a few days if this goes through or not."
Player reps voted 17-14 (with one abstention) Feb. 25 in favor of sending the proposal to the entire NFLPA. The CBA was sent out Thursday to players, who will have one week to submit their votes. A majority of respondents need to approve the proposal for it to be ratified. Owners have already voted in favor of the 10-year agreement.
The biggest contention players have publicly expressed involves the addition of a 17th regular-season game. Players like Rodgers, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson have voiced their concerns with the safety implication of adding an extra week to the regular season. The proposal calls for the removal of one preseason game and fewer mandatory offseason workouts to help alleviate the extra grind on players.
Those voting against the proposal do not believe the concessions made are enough to justify the additional game.
"The point that I was trying to make in that meeting and as we talked to the PA afterward was, 'Tell me what I can go back and tell my veteran players. What are we getting in return for this 17th game?'" Rodgers said. "To me, it just wasn't substantial enough to go back and tell those young players and older players, 'Hey, look, this is what you're going to be getting.'"
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who has taken some criticism for his handling of negotiations, said he expects the proposal to pass.