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Vrabel Addresses NFLPA Issues

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PatsMyBoyz!, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. PatsMyBoyz!

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    FOOTBALL NOTES
    Vrabel ready to tackle issues
    Patriot representative emphasizes education
    By Mike Reiss | March 18, 2007

    The NFL Players Association is holding its annual meeting in Maui this week, and player conduct is expected to be one of the hot topics of discussion. Linebacker Mike Vrabel realizes the issue will be front and center after a string of 2006 arrests across the league, but it's not one he planned to highlight in his role as the Patriots' player representative.

    Instead, Vrabel was preparing to talk about education. He believes the league can do more for its players, and hopes the association continues to push harder in that area. He points to his former teammate, Ted Johnson, as an example of why more education and player programs are needed.

    "I know Ted Johnson is an issue that is near and dear to everybody's heart," said Vrabel, "and I think you say, 'If it can happen to a guy like Ted Johnson, it can certainly happen to Mike Vrabel or anybody.' I think we need to look at what type of education we're giving these guys before [retirement].

    "Certainly, we all make the choice to play this game and enjoy the way we're compensated, and we love playing football, but we have to look at what we're going to do after football. Ted, I thought, had a plan. And whether it was concussions or the drug addiction, or whatever it was, things made a turn for the worse. So I think we need to look at that."

    The 31-year-old Vrabel returned to school in the 2004 offseason, completing his degree in exercise science at Ohio State. He took advantage of the NFL's tuition reimbursement program to defray the costs, but said it wasn't ideal because he was crammed for time. Vrabel would like to see the NFL extend its reimbursement policy so that players don't have to be in the league to take advantage of it.

    "I did it and barely got through, and I only had a handful of classes and had to take some independent study," said Vrabel, who suggests a three-year reimbursement window in which players could finish their degrees after playing. "I'm going to address that; if guys are serious about that, why can't we extend it out a little bit? That's a benefit that the owners will say 'we give them this' but that seldom gets realized."

    The franchise tag is another thing Vrabel expects to be debated. He questions whether teams are using the tag as it was initially intended.

    "The way we were explained it as a union rep, it was to give the team ample time to negotiate a long-term deal, in good faith, or trade the player like Tebucky Jones [in 2003], which I thought was the ethical way to do it -- the team gets something for the player because they used the tag, and the player gets the contract that he wanted from a team," Vrabel said. "So in that case, it's amicable."

    Yet Lance Briggs's stalemate with the Chicago Bears has been anything but amicable this offseason, with the Bears saying they don't intend to negotiate a long-term deal and Briggs saying he is considering sitting out the season.

    While most players would prefer to do away with the franchise tag, from a player representative perspective, Vrabel believes it's not a reasonable expectation. He doesn't think it is worth players surrendering years before reaching free agency to eliminate the franchise tag, which would be one possibility owners might consider.

    Vrabel noted the different approaches players have taken when assigned the franchise tag, including his teammate, cornerback Asante Samuel.

    "[Seattle's] Walter Jones never said a word, he played for a lot of money, reported to training camp three days before the first game, and was a great player," said Vrabel. "Asante has kept quiet and I think that's maybe the proper way -- you get more bees with honey than you do vinegar. Lance Briggs, I don't know him, but he has come out and said some things that he may or may not do.

    "Certainly, the franchise tag has to be addressed and looked at, but it's not going to change. We would have to give up too much, I believe, to get that tag taken away. However unfortunate for Lance Briggs's situation, if he plays this year, he will be compensated well, 2-3 times what most other linebackers are making.

    "You have to debate the issues that apply to a majority of the league, but I guess if those seven players make enough noise, people take notice. It wasn't an issue when Asante didn't say anything, but now it's an issue when Lance Briggs says he's not playing for the Bears.

    "I can't say for my team, the Patriots, that we should do away with the tag. Asante may or may not get his deal -- and I hope he does and gets the security that he deserves and he's earned. Those are the type of things we talk about and try to discuss and we're looking forward to doing it."
  2. unoriginal

    unoriginal Rookie

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    Interesting that Vrabel mentions Tebucky Jones' "amicable" franchise tagging, when he could avail himself of the "Adam Vinatieri HATES the tag" counterpoint. Either that's because Vrabel is being discreet when talking to the hometown scribe, or because the Patriots players don't give two ****s about Adam Vinatieri.

    And anything that helps these players get back into school is a good thing. Wasn't Hank Poteat taking Pitt night classes when we first hauled his ass onto the field? I think this issue will dovetail nicely with player conduct in that, if so many players are spending the offseason in jail, how can they be expected to take advantage of the current active-roster education waiver? It could be argued that, of all the teams, Cincinnati is the most in need of free education, but the way the system is set up now most of that team isn't going to be able to get it.
  3. DaBruinz

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    #50 Jersey

    Honestly, I think that it should be in every player's contract that they do a minimum of 100 hours of community service each year. Best way to keep many of these guys humble.
  4. PatsMyBoyz!

    PatsMyBoyz! Rookie

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    Here's what I took from that outline of Mike's meeting agenda:

    First,Vrabel has earned the NFL's ear and certainly earned ours so his thoughts merit reflection.

    One thing interesting to me was that the NFL has player conduct as it's top priority (as it should),while Vrabel has education and planning for the future among his because he's representing the concerns of the Patriots. I hope we take a moment to appreciate the philosophy of our franchise,and how that philosophy can influence not only the league but the borderline players who come here and flourish.
    Considering what's been happening throughout the league lately,the fact that education and the franchise tag are our concerns speaks volumes about our organization,about our players,and about it's fans.

    I found his comments regarding the tag to be pretty interesting.Though players hate it,the cost of giving it up wouldn't be worth it.

    All in all I think Mike's agenda speaks to concern for a player's future not just as a football player but as a contributing member of society for years to come. Something beyond ESPN.
    Good for Mike.
  5. sarge

    sarge Rookie

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    No offense, but take freaking classes on your own time.

    I did it with a full time job and much smaller income, and no "offseason".

    I know it is inconvenient. So what! Not everything in life is suppose to be easy. And just because something isn't easy, it doesn't mean it is someone else's responsibility to make it easy for you!

    Take responsibility for yourself.
  6. BelichickFan

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    #24 Jersey

    Or, you know, during those 4-5 years that they get to go to college free. Athletes really are better off not talking off the field - even the Patriots - because they sounds really f*cking stupid when they do talk.
  7. PatsMyBoyz!

    PatsMyBoyz! Rookie

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    I agree. Actually they retire so early in life (compared to most of us) that they have ample time even post-career to start life over as it were,and certainly the money if they're smart about it. During the offseason you can fit in a few hours towards your education if you make that a priority. Like Duane Starks did...
    I don't see the NFL as being financially responsible for a player's education;the main reason they get paid the big bucks in the first place is because their career is so short-lived. The expectation is that some of that money will get invested and that some thought will be given to one's future aspirations beyond football.
    Like I said,it's interesting these are the concerns coming out of NE as opposed to those of say,the Bengals.
  8. DaBruinz

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    #50 Jersey

    Sarge -
    Did your company reimburse you for your classes?

    Also, just because they have an off-season, doesn't guarantee that their school is offering classes at that time.

    One of the things you seemed to have glossed over is that the NFL has a time limit on reimbursement. I think that is a crock.

    They are pushing these kids to come out early before they have their degree and then limiting them on how long they have to complete it?

    Lets not pretend like they have cushy jobs and only work 3 or 4 hours a day. Yes, its their choice, but their also have a ton of time they need to put in.
  9. dhamz

    dhamz Rookie

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    I really don't understand the anger here about Vrabel saying he'd like the NFLPA to take a benefit all its members get and extend it for a couple years after the player retires.

    Let's face it, if every member of the New England Patriots decided they could not attend the "voluntary" off-season workout programs this spring to take classes towards their degrees - what would be the reaction here or in BB's office?

    Most NFL players enter the league in their early 20s without degrees. Most leave after a very short career without having enough money to be set for life. Their union has a benefit that is set to help its members combat that. Due to the nature of the modern NFL where teams expect players, especially the fringe players to be working out at the stadium year round, it isn't working as intended. So Vrabel advocates modifiying it.

    He isn't talking about the Mike Vicks of the world. He's talking about the PK Sams.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  10. BelichickFan

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    #24 Jersey

    That would be whose choice ? Oh yeah . . . theirs :rolleyes:
  11. dhamz

    dhamz Rookie

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    You don't follow major college sports very closely I take it. Players are discouraged from doing any more than the minimum necessary to stay eligible at the overwhelming majority of major schools.
  12. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Lets put some things into perspective.

    The NCAA rules actually are set up to prevent many of these kids from getting part time jobs. Yes, you heard me. The rules prevent many of these kids from getting part time jobs. Why? Because the NCAA believes that it would unfairly bias the players or allow them to get unfair treatment.

    Its a bunch of garbage.

    The NCAA rules are part of the problem. They aren't set up to allow these kids to have money other than what their scholarships give them and the money is supposed to pay for school expenses. So, what are these kids suppsoed to do on weekends and in their free time? They can't be studying all the time. They don't get the ability to learn the value of money becasue they aren't allowed to have jobs.

    Its ridiculous.

    The entire system is fouled up.
  13. BelichickFan

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    #24 Jersey

    It's their choice whether the take real classes and study for them. If they want to they can.
  14. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I disagree. A college player with a shot at the NFL should focus on football so as to max out his chances of making it. Should he fail to make the NFL, a post college semester or so will get the degree. Miss a few courses; you can always go nights later while working.

    I agree with Vrabes about giving players a bit longer to get their degrees.

    I don't have much sympathy for a franchised player who in 1 year will likely earn more $ that all the posters in this thread will in their combined working lifetimes.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  15. dhamz

    dhamz Rookie

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    The sad truth is no, most of them can't. This was made painfully and publicly clear back when an Ohio St coach told Robert Smith (arguably the best player on the team) he could choose school or football. Smith had the means to choose school and the profile that would enable him to force OSU to let him do both so he quit the team.

    You think a freshman reserve whose family can't afford to send him to school can make the choice Smith did? No way.

    Either way, that isn't the issue. The NFL and the NFLPA have already decided that they want to help players get their degrees. The question is whether the NFLPA should extend that benefit to recently retired players. The reason the issue is being raised is with the elimination of the voluntary part of off-season workouts, players aren't able to take advantage of one of the benefits that their union provides during their careers.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  16. BelichickFan

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    #24 Jersey

    Well some players do have their degrees when they enter the NFL. So you can tell all the stories from players you want but it can be done. Maybe not at Ohio State but it can be, and is, done.
  17. PatsSteve1

    PatsSteve1 Rookie

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    I don't have much sympathy for a franchised player who in 1 year will likely earn more $ that all the posters in this thread will in their combined working lifetimes.[/QUOTE]

    * That franchised player also has more talent in an occupation that pays well than all the posters on this board have -:)
  18. sarge

    sarge Rookie

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    No offense, but take freaking classes on your own time.

    I did it with a full time job and much smaller income, and no "offseason".

    I know it is inconvenient. So what! Not everything in life is suppose to be easy. And just because something isn't easy, it doesn't mean it is someone else's responsibility to make it easy for you!

    Take responsibility for yourself.
  19. PatsMyBoyz!

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    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  20. redsox33

    redsox33 Rookie

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    Long post guys so bear with me on this there's a method to the madness,

    I'm not sure how many of you have or havn't played a college sport (varisty or club) at any level but as a Division 3 athlete at Bridgewater State its difficult to balance sports with academics. I play field hockey there (not a big time mainstream sport by any means) and in order to get to practices and games we are "suggested": 4 classes during the semester when your sport is in season (this leaves you about 15-20 credits short on graduating on time if you do this for 4 seasons) and to not to take classes that start after 12 (or you'll have to miss them for games or will be late for practices and you know what they say about not practicing in sports). I am currently trying to graduate on time so I take the 5 classes per semester and its not easy by any means. My social life is the time I get playing field hockey, its hard to really hold a job as well with the time commitment you have to put into it. After your season is over its preping for the next season and offseason team workouts, thus you are still avoiding late classes.

    I'm saying this so that you can get a taste of a "small-time" athlete's life in school. Many of my teammates won't graduate on time (some will take as much as 2 extra years). Imagine what it is like for "big-time" athlete's who have much more along the lines of travel time, and expected workouts on their shoulders. Sure summer classes are there but I know that a lot of schools often offer the basic classes and don't bother offering the higher level classes for 15 or so students when during a regular semester they would have 40-50 in on the class. Thus, its tough, I give all the credit in the world to the one's who can pull it off, but I can see where Mike is trying to go with this and I like seeing it. Like someone said the NFL isn't full of Tom Brady's they have some P.K. Sams that might need a little help financially going back to school.
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