Disgruntled Players Talk Tough Before Fines Start

(Philadelphia, Pa) — The holdout watch continues…  I don’t know if it is the offseason kicking in or if players are just plain bored, but there is an overwhelming number of players making holdout statements then like a 3rd grader instituting “takebacks” when money could potentially start flying out of their pocket.

The funny thing is players love to draw lines in the sand and talk tough when OTA’s are “voluntary”.  But when fines could potentially pile up at a cost of approximately $8,300 plus per day for a missed mandatory OTA and $14,000 per missed training camp day somehow holdout talk magically disappears.  A perfect example is Bengal receiver Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, who through his agent Drew Rosenhaus was talking very tough all offseason from February into June.  However with mandatory OTA’s and training camp coming up in mid June and July, Ocho Cinco stubbornly recognized that the Bengals were not going to blink.   The Bengals called Johnson’s bluff, so “takebacks’ were in order to play in the NFL, keep his dollars up, and avoid being fined.

The loquacious receiver wrote in a guest column for ESPN the Magazine, “Am I coming back? Of course I am. I told my coaches I’m going to California to act, but the truth is I may come back to the Bengals as early as June”.  Ocho Cinco added, “I may be crazy but I’m not stupid.”  I may not agree with #85 on everything that he says or does, but his last statement sums up the way NFL players think when it comes to holdout talk with potential fines piling up and not getting paid.  Johnson is not the only player coming back on bended knee as Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher also reported for duty avoiding fines.  However Urlacher was in a surly mood and would not discuss his unhappiness with his current 9-year, $56.655 million contract that he signed in June 2003 including a $13 million signing bonus.

Unfortunately until the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is changed, players on the Holdout Watch List need to understand that NFL owners are holding the hammer.  Clearly when it comes to non-guaranteed contracts, the NFL is slanted towards the owners causing an obstinate “Go Pound Sand” attitude toward disgruntled players.  Most NFL owners, outside of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones, once they get a signature on a contract know that players are obligated to the terms and that they can potentially fine disgruntled players plus not pay them during a holdout.

Players need to really think about “how” good the terms of a contract or extension are — where the player is in their career (rising player, veteran, or rookie), how their peers are paid, contract length, etc — before signing a deal.  Once the ink is dry the player has a better chance of seeing huge free agent defensive tackle Grady Jackson (370+ pounds) in a thong than an owner eagerly renegotiating.


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)



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