The NFLPA had to know that when the named plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL suit stepped up and demanded free agency as part of the global settlement needed to finish the new CBA in time for Thursday's vote at the owners meetings in Atlanta, people were going to go nuts. At this point, anything seen as an impediment to labor peace will be about as well-regarded as Al Franken showing up to attend a Michele Bachmann fundraiser. Especially from the side of the players, who some fans think are too greedy anyway.
It appears that the fans aren't the only ones objecting to this last-minute contractual smash-and-grab. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, one of the funnier and more outspoken players in the league (we'll never forget his personal messages to Roger Goodell) had a bit of Twitter ammo to throw at those involved:
The bleepage of the offending word is ours, but you get the idea. Asked by Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to explain himself, Kluwe had this to say:
Asked if he was really upset or just having fun, Kluwe said: "It's like a mix of both. The thing is we're so close to having a deal done and to kind of pull that at the last minute it feels kind of like blackmail. We all out the owners when they do crap like that and it's only fair to call out our own people when they do the same thing. I'm against hypocrisy wherever it's at. Just finish the deal up so we can get the season going."
Kluwe's tweet came after Yahoo! Sports reported the agent for Jackson, a Chargers wide receiver, and Logan Mankins, a Patriots guard, were demanding their clients become unrestricted free agents once the lockout is lifted or receive $10 million payments as part of the settlement of the case.
"I get that they got screwed over with how the uncapped year worked out [last season], but at some point 80 or 90 percent in this league would love to play for a restricted free-agent offer," Kluwe said. "That's getting paid a pretty good sum of money for one year. I know I'd gladly pay for a restricted free-agent tender. You're going to make more money than the average American makes in their lifetime in one year."
I'll give Kluwe credit for being an equal-opportunity blaster — he's the only player I know of in this entire labor fight to go after the owners and his own brethren — but this probably isn't the best time to present anything but a united front, especially since most of the players sticking their noses out right now are doing so as a matter of gamesmanship — just as the owners have with back-door expense credits and the recent "right of first refusal" nonsense. This is all a process, and the sooner we all realize that negotiations aren't generally decided by the better angels of our nature, the more we'll be able to see these chess moves for what they really are.