Spikes tells it like it is from the players' side
Takeo Spikes knows a power play when it’s coming right at him. And just like during 13 NFL seasons that distinguished him as one of the best linebackers of his era, Spikes is quick to identify when the opponent is trying to shove it down his throat. Speaking in no-nonsense terms, Spikes’ words resounded across the NFL world Friday as he gave insight on the viewpoint of players in the CBA struggle.
In an interview televised Friday on ESPN, Spikes calmly asserted that NFL players are not going to be pushed around by owners who on Thursday approved a new collective bargaining agreement and then essentially told the players to take it.
Problem is, that CBA contained details – particularly regarding supplemental revenue sharing – that hadn’t been discussed during negotiations and meetings with players earlier in the week.
“Straight power play, no doubt it,” said Spikes, the 49ers’ player representative who was among many on the players’ side that were quick to recognize something wasn’t quite right about the deal owners had hoped the league’s players would vote upon Thursday night. That vote never happened.
“But at the same time,” Spikes continued, “I understand that in this game, there’s stuff you can’t take personal, it’s part of the procedure. At the same time, that’s why we’re going to sit back, do what needs to be done, and we’re not going to be rushed into anybody’s timeline.”
Several reports began emerging Friday afternoon that NFL Players Association lawyers and officials still have several concerns regarding language contained in the CBA, in addition to matters that players believe are still unresolved, and a vote by the players is not necessarily imminent.
Spikes indicated it will remain that way until players are further debriefed and have a clear understanding of the new details contained in the CBA language. When players discussed the CBA presented to them by owners during a Thursday night conference call, the details regarding supplemental revenue sharing brought progress toward a potential players vote to a screeching halt.
“It raised a lot of red flags,” Spikes said. “And it was like, we can’t be forced into a deal. Period. So we’re going to take our due diligence, take time to read through the finer points.
“The biggest concerns were when we got on that conference call, we didn’t have all the information at that time, we really just had some of the summary points. We really didn’t have all the fine details that explained everything. And that (supplemental revenue sharing) was a big problem, we were told that in the paperwork throughout the conference call, and we were like, we never agreed to anything like that, and at the same time that was the first we heard something of that matter.”
Spikes continued, “For this to come back across the table… I mean, what do you expect us to do? Just be a fool and just sign something that wasn’t even discussed amongst us? So we’re going to do our due diligence and take it from there.”
Spikes, who is coming off the best of his three seasons with the 49ers in 2010, when he had 125 tackles and three interceptions while starting all 16 games, will be an unrestricted free agent once a new CBA is ratified and the lockout ends. Spikes has said he wants to return to the 49ers and the team has indicated it also is interested in the same result.
But first, Spikes made it clear that players are willing to wait a little longer – or as long as it takes – before agreeing to a new deal with owners that will end the stalemate that has brought the NFL to a standstill the past four months.
“I expect a vote to happen when a fair deal is reached. Period,” Spikes said. “That’s one of the things I want to make sure that I get out there on TV. We want to have football too, but as players, we’re not tied to anybody’s deadline, talking about the NFL.
“When we go through the necessary procedure, read everything through its entirety, educate the guys on what the deal is, then we’ll be prepared to make a vote. We’re not under any pressure. We’re not going to rush to anybody’s timeline until a deal is fair that comes across the table, and it’s expressed and explained through the entire body of players – then that’s when a deal will be reached.”
Whenever that might be. Meanwhile, the scheduled start of 49ers training camp, which originally was July 28, is now certain to be pushed back, probably into August, by the latest CBA snag.