Last offseason NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were the bane of my existence. They essentially killed the NFL offseason following the draft until the early days of August. Fortunately, the current lockout of NFL officials doesn't threaten the NFL season, despite what the NFLPA would have you believe.
In a recent interview with Jim Trotter of SI.com, DeMaurice Smith indicated that the NFLPA could take action if the union believes its player are in danger due to the replacement officials.
In America it is the employer's obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible. We believe that if the National Football League fails in that obligation we reserve the right to seek any relief that we believe is appropriate. The NFL has chosen to prevent the very officials that they have trained, championed and cultivated for decades to be on the field to protect players and — by their own admission — further our goal of enhanced safety. That is absurd on its face.
The NFLPA would like to believe they have some leverage to lend to the NFLRA, a group with next to no leverage at all. The problem is, at the end of the day, the NFLPA and its players aren't willing to withhold their services in an effort to help the NFL's officials secure a new CBA for themselves.
Many of the responses given by Smith are a joke, at lest in my eyes. Everyone knows that the NFL's relationship with the NFLPA is tenuous at best, and we also know the NFLPA will ultimately stay out of the way while the NFL and NFLRA try to strike a new deal. That didn't stop Smith from taking a shot at the NFL's owners.
The only conclusion that I have [about the use of replacement officials] is that the league cares more about money than it does about the experience of the [regular] referees as a vehicle to increase player safety.
That statement assumes that replacement officials somehow provide less safety than regular officials (I'm not sure they do), but the laughable part came in Smith's reference to the league caring more about money. The fact of the matter is that the owners won't sacrifice a large amount of money to bring in their real officials, just like the players won't sacrifice paychecks to push the NFL to bring back the real refs. If the players don't care more about their own safety than money, how can they expect the owners to?
There's simply no reason to worry about a strike from the NFLPA.