You might remember, last August, when Bryant Gumbel — that notorious agent of social change — blasted NFL union head Gene Upshaw for being the "personal pet" of the NFL, and that he was kept "on a leash."
We can now confirm this is not inherently true: Sometimes Upshaw is let off his leash so he can go break some dude's neck.
Upshaw has been taking some (justifiable) heat for not properly supporting retired players. The most vocal critic has been Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure. Upshaw has a few words for him.
"A guy like DeLamielleure says the things he said about me; you think I'm going to invite him to dinner? No. I'm going to break his ...damn neck," Upshaw was quoted as saying by the Daily News.
Upshaw has been known for years as ineffectual, but he's also renowned for flying off the handle and saying radically inappropriate things. The NFL, particularly commissioner Roger Goodell, certainly loves this; anything that discredits Upshaw just further allows Goodell to run rampant over his players. Meanwhile, DeLamielleure, no dummy, says he's taking the threat seriously.
"My wife was petrified. We grew up in Detroit. You know what unions are. You hear about it. She goes, `Hey, this guy is a head of a union, a powerful union, and (when) he makes a threat like that, you'd better take it serious.' I'm not afraid of Upshaw, but he has the means to do what he said."
This happens all the time in sports unions; saying Donald Fehr's name has often conjured up images of Keyser Soze in the minds of anyone who dare challenge him. Go get 'em, Gene: Do your players proud. After all, nothing makes a football player happier than thinking about broken necks.
Upshaw Threat Taken Seriously [Charlotte Observer]