Skip to main content

Roundtable: Players share thoughts on 18-game season, TV and more


MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. -- The fourth annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp is under way here on the campus of NFL Films, which is easily one of the coolest places I have ever been with all of the pictures and videos of players from yesteryear.

Rather than write my opinion about one or many of the hot NFL topics of the week as I normally do, I decided to do a roundtable of sorts with some of the players attending the boot camp. This is a smart bunch, guys who realize there is life after football and that they should take advantage of all of the available programs the NFL and NFLPA jointly offer in order to prepare them for the inevitable end of their careers.

Now, if they only weren't coming after my jobs ...

• What are your thoughts on the "enhanced" 18-game season?

Derrick Brooks, free agent linebacker: "The owners can't have it both ways. If they want an 18-game season, then they need to say it. I know they are saying it publicly, but they are not saying it at the bargaining table. They need to tell us what they are going to give up and what we as players are going to get in terms of guaranteed money. We are asking for a certain percentage of the contract to be guaranteed if they want to add 120 or more plays a season."

Shaun O'Hara, New York Giants center and NFLPA player representative: "I think to this point the financial situation has yet to be presented. How much would they increase our salary? 1/8th? Would it just be two more game checks at the same rate as the other 17 we get now? The season is long enough and it is tough enough to get the postseason healthy as it is right now. Plus, from a personal perspective as an undrafted free agent when I came out of college, the fourth preseason game was critical for me making the team. The young guys won't get that chance now."

Greg Camarillo, Miami Dolphins wide receiver and player rep: "I really think it can work as long as there are proper adjustments made to offseason training, preseason games, OTAs, roster size, etc. Just adding two games in and of itself doesn't work."

Larry Izzo, free agent linebacker: "I think this is simply a diversionary tactic on their part. The owners get the full value of the ticket prices from the preseason games already. I think this entire CBA is a big PR battle and this is one of the league's strategies to win that battle."

Jeremiah Trotter, free agent linebacker: "As a businessman, when my guys work overtime, they want overtime money. It really all comes down to the money. It has to increase significantly for that to be worth it."

• What is the one thing the league and television networks could do to make their broadcasts even better for the fans?

Ben Leber, Minnesota Vikings linebacker: "I'd say more behind the scene stuff to bring the fans closer to the game and the things that are going on on the sideline, though that is tough too because you don't always want a camera in your face either. But anything to get the fans a little deeper into the pregame and locker room perspective."

O'Hara: " I think the 3-D concept is amazing and could really emphasize the contact and collisions that take place during the game. I watched a hockey game in 3-D and think it could really enhance football games."

• Along those same lines, can you blame fans that want to watch the games at home on their TV instead of coming out to the game and rooting you on?

Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver: " I don't blame them at all. I know my mom hates going to the game because she doesn't get to watch the replays. Especially if you don't have great seats, I totally understand."

O'Hara: " Fans evaluate their experiences on different things. Some want to be on the couch from the comfort of their own home so they can relax and be with their kids while they watch. For other fans, it is all about tailgating and the entire game day experience. To each his own."

• Any sympathy or understanding for Albert Haynesworth and his situation?

Muhsin Muhammad, retired wide receiver: "Absolutely not. I've always been a player that got thrown into different situations with coaching and scheme changes and had to figure out how to deal with it. Plus, he could increase his value long-term if he shows he can play both the 3-4 and 4-3 effectively."

Hollis Thomas, free agent defensive tackle: "There are two sides to every story. He was promised that he was going to play in the 4-3. Nose tackle in the 3-4 is not fun."

Orlando Pace, free agent offensive tackle: "No way. They could ask me to wash dishes for that kind of money and I wouldn't complain. I can't support what he is doing."

Leber: " No, not at all. We all sign a contracts in this league knowing that things change whether it is head coaches, coordinators, schemes, teammates, etc. When you sign a contract with a franchise, you have an obligation to perform for them."

Ward: "No sympathy whatsoever. You play the game to win a title and get a huge payday. He got his huge payday and now he is worried about how the scheme will affect his production?"

Brooks: "I know if I was his teammate, I would reach out to him privately and tell him how I feel. I would tell him that when you sign a contract in the NFL, you are signing up for changes. That is the one thing you know for sure that is going to happen in the NFL."

Jordan Babineaux, Seattle Seahawks safety: " If you look at it, he had his most production and best years when he was a 3 technique and just causing havoc every play in the "B" gap on the outside shoulder of the guard. But now he will just get double teamed every play."

O'Hara: " Albert played extremely hard to get a large contract. A lot of times when players get that, they feel entitled. Even though you receive a contract you still have to earn that money. He should be willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win however they decide to go about it. At what time is it about team?"