Moments after the NFLPA dropped the decertification axe last Friday, Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson joined the long line of players speaking critically about the league’s owners.
In an interview published today that featured prominent use of the word “slavery,” Peterson spoke to Yahoo’s Doug Farrar about 15 minutes after DeMaurice Smith made the players’ decision to decertify official. We’ve heard candid comments from Drew Brees, who is now a plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit. Slowly, the mud-slinging from those directly involved in this labour lunacy is turning into white noise.
But our ears perk up with a fresh voice, which is why Peterson’s comments resonate. Farrar asked Peterson what the main message is that the players would like to get out to the fans. The All-Pro running back wanted to remind the people who consume the league’s product that for the players, the NFL is far more than just a Sunday performance.
It’s a full-time job that may make them very wealthy, but also requires major health risks, and being away from family for lengthy periods.
It’s not just fun and games. A lot of football players, whether it’s Sunday or Monday night — we’re out there on the field, competing, hitting each other. But people don’t see everything else behind it. It’s a job for us, too — every day of the week. We’re in different states, sometimes thousands of miles away from our families and kids, and a lot of people don’t look at it like that. All some people see is, ‘Oh, we’re not going to be around football.’ But how the players look at it … the players are getting robbed. They are. The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don’t know that I want to quote myself on that…
Umm, too late Adrian. What bleeds leads, and once the seal was broken, Peterson kept his barely filtered comments flowing.
It’s modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it’s how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, ‘Hey — without us, there’s no football.’
The use of the term “modern-day slavery” will be a magnet for criticism under any circumstance. Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant tweeted that he understood the point Peterson was trying to make–as anyone should–but said his choice of words was poor.
Peterson acknowledged that maybe not all the players are “on the same page,” before saying he’s confident the lockout won’t get to the point that football’s disappearance becomes lengthy. But when there is football again, Peterson thinks the idea of adding two more games isn’t acceptable because of two widely argued reasons: the health risks, and the players not seeing any of the increased revenue.
His other use of colourful language came when asked about the owners’ transparency and unwillingness to open up their books.
It’s like … ‘Well, show us.’ We want more information, and they want to bull****, going around, saying this and that, just open it up and give us the information we want. If they have nothing to hide, just give us the information. Why not? Obviously, there’s a lot to hide — these guys are professionals, and they’re maximizing what they do. But they know that if all this information comes out, the information the players want, it’ll be right out there for everyone to see. It’s a ripoff — not just for the players, but for the people who work at the concession stands and at the stadiums. The people working at the facilities, you know?
The slavery club could have been left in the bag, but Peterson’s comments are yet another illustration of how passionate the players are about their future health. There’s a deep feeling of being used, abused, and trotted out on a field with profit as the only aim and ambition.
Until that feeling subsides, there will continue to be mud caked to the walls in the room whenever the two sides meet.