Apparently all the striking and picketing going on at various writer and actor guilds has seeped into the professional sports. The New York Giants and running back Saquon Barkley are at an impasse over the team giving him an ultimatum of a shitty contract, or the franchise tag, and now he’s mulling the Oppenheimer option: Sitting out the entire season.
Throwing away a healthy year is obviously an extreme measure, yet one that his ball-carrying brethren are backing, and that’s nice; it’s good to see he’s got a solid support system. Speaking of which, where’s his union representation? What would he suggest they do?
While I don’t know who’s specifically assigned to Barkley, NFLPA president JC Tretter had some *wink, wink* advice for the Giants’ running back, Josh Jacobs, and all the other toters fucked over by the franchise tag (via Pro Football Talk).
“You need to try to create as much leverage as you possibly can,” Tretter explained on something called the Ross Tucker Podcast. “And that’s the tough thing with the franchise tag, or being restricted in movement, is it decreases your leverage, but then you have to find creative ways to build leverage elsewhere. I think we’ve seen issues — now, I don’t think anybody would say they were fake injuries, but we’ve seen players who didn’t want to be where they currently are, have injuries that made them unable to practice, and play, but you’re not able to get fined, and you’re not able to be punished for not reporting.”
Ah, yes, the “Ben Simmons, my back, my back” excuse. Bold strategy. I can’t say it’s worked out for him, but maybe it’s different in football. Proceed; let’s hear the rest of this regrettable thought process/interview.
“I don’t think I’m allowed to ever recommend that, at least publicly, but I think each player needs to find a way to build up leverage to try to get a fair deal, and that’s really what all these guys are looking for, is to be compensated fairly.”
Good lord, JC, that’s all you’ve got? It’s easy to forget that NFL running backs are part of a union. Flailing coaches and inept quarterbacks run these guys into oncoming traffic relentlessly, pundits are advising front offices not to pay them after their rookie deals, one of the biggest stars at the position is threatening to voluntarily burn a healthy season, and the union prez can only offer, “Maybe try reaching for your hammy?”
Hey, Saquon, don’t… don’t do that. If Barkley — a player notorious for getting injured — comes up lame during a season on the franchise tag, why in the world would GM Joe Schoen hand out a dime of guaranteed money?
Sitting out isn’t going to get running backs the money they deserve for playing a position with a finite lifespan, and neither is faking injuries. Le’Veon Bell said this week that he regrets his “petty” exit from Pittsburgh after holding out, and honestly, he was never being the same guy after that. (He also went to the Jets, so there were myriad factors that led to his fall from relevance.)
This problem has encroached upon union territory, and I’m not just talking about the franchise tag. Running backs have been devalued like landlines despite still having a real, concrete impact on winning. If the meter on a back’s time in the NFL is limited due to physical punishment, they should be paid more simply because it’s not going to last long.
It’s akin to the psychos who get paid a king’s ransom (on the plebeian scale) to catch King Crab in the Arctic Ocean, or drive semis over ice. The job of a running back doesn’t risk life, but it might mar a few limbs, and they deserve better protection.
The perception of the NFLPA is that it’s useless, and shit like this isn’t helping. It’s abundantly clear running backs are on their own; forced to take bad contracts for grueling, career-shortening labor even if they’re not washed.
I once got a free koozie that came with a carabiner attached, and wondered what possible purpose could this ever serve? Then I needed a carabiner for a set of keys, and it became of use. Be useful, NFLPA. Show some reason to exist.