Right before the Super Bowl, there was a great guest piece written for Peter King's MMQB.com -- it was by Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett. Dockett wrote about how the media has simply been avoiding the NFL's dirty laundry, instead focusing on deflated balls and what a guy isn't saying during media sessions.
Dockett criticizes two very important issues for NFL players -- the illusion of safety and the way the league churns through players.
I met Moose Johnston once. His knuckles and fingers are twisted and jagged. Tony Siragusa hurts all over his body. Junior Seau killed himself. But the NFL says concussions are down 25% and you don't even blink. You want to know when the next Lynch press conference is going down. You're not asking the question many of us players are: Why aren't our contracts guaranteed? And I'm not talking about every contract. I'm talking about established veterans on their second and third deal getting fully compensated on those big contracts that make headlines but never actually get fulfilled.
He has some perspective after losing an entire season to injury.
"It's easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of it and think competition is the only thing that matters, then you see a teammate or a friend tear an ACL and -- POOF -- all that contract money is gone," he writes. "Sorry, but the richest sports owners in the country don't want to pay you for risking your health."
He is soon to experience something like this.
The Cardinals are expected to approach him this offseason about redoing his contract. They will probably ask him to take a paycut. If he doesn't, they will cut him and he won't be paid anything. We don't know yet how this will play out.
He also went after the concussion reporting rules.
"The NFL says it wants us to report concussions, but its actions say differently," he explaind. "Guys are motivated to play hurt by the threat of unemployment and lost salary because of the collective bargaining terms forced on players by the owners. If you really wanted us to report concussions and other injuries, you'd guarantee the contracts."
The NFL is the only sport that doesn't give completely guaranteed deals to its players. It makes it easier for teams to bounce back and recover from whatever state they are in.
But it is also the most dangerous of all the professional sports.
It is time for the league to do something different. Maybe it's not ever going to have completely guaranteed contracts, but they could start by having a date in which the year beyond the current one in contracts becomes guaranteed for vested veterans or make all contracts fully guaranteed for three years and after that not.
Do you think it is time for the public to start looking at the NFL to make changes? Is the league being hypocritical about player safety? Or are these just the words of a veteran soon to be cut who knows he will never get that much money again?