DeMaruice Smith came out swinging to Dave Zirin of Sports Illustrated, and it's the best evidence I've seen yet that there probably won't be football in 2011. It's been no small secret that players in the NBA, MLB and NHL all laugh openly at NFL players for the way they're shafted by their owners, and it isn't just about guaranteed contracts o the league apparently not having any interest in the severe brain damage their players end-up with. That's just the begining. In the interview, Smith, a former U.S. Attorney, lays out a problem that ex-player and ex-NFLPA President Gene Upshaw allowed to go on far too long:
Smith: ... the average career for a football player is 3.6 years. It takes you three years and three games in order to get five years of health care coverage when you're done playing. If you play any less than three years you don't get any health care coverage when you tire. If you play three years and three games, you still only get five years.
Zirin: What if you play 15 years?
Smith: Five years. If you play 13 years, it's five years; 12 years, it's five years
5 years of healthcare coverage for the most dangerous major sport in the world? That's absurd. In other bad news, Smith also lets us know that the man the NFL has hired to handle the negotiations is Bob
Waterman Batterman, who represented the owners and helped lead the NHL to its most recent lock-out.
Expect to hear a lot of bluster from both sides, but Smith has a tall task in front of him and the owners have shown zero inclination to show much flex so far.