Earlier today news broke that Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter was elected as the new President of the NFLPA. For the inundated, this is the players’ union within the National Football League that represents the interests of the players. For lack of a better term, their ‘adversary’ is the ownership around the league. What is interesting in all of this is Tretter comes to the table without previously being on the union board.
Tretter’s nomination comes on the advent of the well-documented vote the NFLPA will need to act on by 11:59 p.m. this Saturday. Of the many interests spelled out from the owners, a few of the more highlighted topics include adding one more regular-season game to become an 18-week, 17-game schedule, as well as trimming the preseason by at least a game.
Many prominent names around the league have been outspoken against the owners’ demands including Houston’s J.J. Watt and the 49ers’ Richard Sherman. While, in theory, it is the same amount of games if you add preseason and regular (currently four pre, 16 regular to three pre, 17 regular), it is my own opinion, and one likely shared throughout the league, that these guys take enough of a beating as it is. There is absolutely no need to extend the journey of an NFL season beyond what it currently is. On top of all of that, the owners want one more wild card game and up to half a month of more practice while retaining just one bye week during the regular season.
It is true that no one has to play in the NFL if they don’t want to, but there is a complete understanding on my part what it is like to be addicted to a sport and not wanting to let go. While I was nowhere near any impressive talent level in hockey, a pair of diminished knees forced me out of the game and I miss it dearly. Imagine what the pros’ level of attachment would be. Why accelerate that for NFL players? Yes, one additional game can make a big difference. It is another four quarters of hits, another 60 minutes of pounding the turf.
According to Cleveland.com, the Browns center beat out Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho and Giants safety Michael Thomas. Acho happened to be for the new collective bargaining agreement while Thomas was against it. Tretter’s position is unknown, though whichever way he sways, the Ivy League graduate certainly has a definitive grasp on what he’s walking into.
Tretter steps into the fray with a lot on his plate out of the gate but disarmed he is not. An alumnus of Cornell University, J.C. Tretter holds a degree in industrial labor relations and has already been in widespread communication with players on the pros and cons of what they are about to face. No one can accuse the new labor official of being ill-prepared or keeping his constituents in the dark.
While no one knows for certain when the players union will vote, it is a safe bet that it will not be before the deadline day of March 14th. The CBA itself consists of over 450 pages of material on the future of the league’s playing structure among other things. This is no mere magazine to thumb through and Tretter knows that better than anyone right now. There are certainly plenty of discussions the players have to make up to that point as Saturday will be here before you know it.
‘Crunch time’ is an understatement.