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Lockout's effects concern Tampa Bay Buccaneers center/rep Jeff Faine

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says he hopes to organize workouts in case of a lockout, but Jeff Faine isn’t optimistic.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2010)

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says he hopes to organize workouts in case of a lockout, but Jeff Faine isn’t optimistic.

TAMPA — He owns and operates a dozen restaurants, is opening four more, has a real estate investment company currently partnering with other NFL players to restore historical buildings and struck oil with a technology that harvests crude from old wells.

It's no wonder Bucs players elected center Jeff Faine their union representative in the face of labor talks that could result in the league's first work stoppage in 24 years despite last year's $9.3 billion in revenue and record television ratings.

"There's nothing I like more than walking out onto the field on Sunday," said Faine, 29, a theater major at Notre Dame. "But I do realize I'm on the back end of my career and it's temporary. I never thought I'd say this, but I find excitement putting business deals together."

Faine is concerned about the business deal the players and owners are trying to work out and that a lockout could be crippling to the Bucs, particularly because they were the league's youngest team last season.

"We need preseason. We need training camp. We need the offseason," Faine said. "I'm sure (general manager) Mark Dominik knows we need it, but his hands are tied. I hope (the Bucs owners) the Glazers know we need it."

During Super Bowl week, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman said he planned to organize workouts with receivers at local high schools or college fields in Tampa. Faine hopes that happens but says the effort could be futile.

"You're not going to see Josh Freeman and our receiving corps down at the University of Tampa soccer field," Faine said. "They might go out there and run some routes and throw. But you're talking about getting an entire receiving corps together being able to work against an entire defensive backs corps. It's just not going to happen."

During a two-hour interview, Faine addressed the key issues regarding labor talks. Among the highlights:

• The union held a conference call with representatives of all 32 teams Tuesday to revisit decertification in the event of a lockout when the collective-bargaining agreement expires March 4. That would enable players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

"That's our last resort," Faine said. "But it's an action we will take. There's a sense we're all still on board and want to do that."

• With benefits, including health insurance, expiring March 4, Faine says players will begin to feel a hardship while owners are guaranteed $4 billion in TV money in 2011 even if there is no football.

"There are six guys on our team I can think of right now that have babies coming this offseason," Faine said. "There are two players in the league that have kids on the transplant list, who need to get these organs. It's not an insignificant thing from a life standpoint, and it's not insignificant from a cost standpoint. No one wants to shell out a million dollars, but they'll have to at this point."

• Faine said not only will the owners' proposal for an 18-game regular season shorten players' careers, players will earn less money for more work.

"The initial idea is that they're going to spread a 16-game salary over an 18-game schedule," Faine said. "That's like asking someone to work another month for free.

"I still feel like it's a bargaining chip. If it is, I'm sure that's something we may go to. If it's something they're stuck on, I think it's a terrible idea. There's nothing good in it except for the owners."

• Faine sympathizes with the nearly 500 players scheduled to become free agents March 4, some of whom were denied that opportunity last season because of the expiring agreement.

Faine describes himself as a "hopeless optimist" but fears the owners do not view March 4 as a hard deadline, particularly because players don't get paid until the regular season.

"They've taken out insurance on a work stoppage as well as what they're going to be paid from television," Faine said. "And the networks have taken out insurance as well.

"The only ones who don't have insurance against a lockout is us."

Faine knows there will have to be compromise. He views the fight as necessary for future players, the same way he benefited from free agency and increased salaries from the efforts of former players.

"The unfortunate thing working against us in this lockout and CBA talk is that the majority of players in this league live beyond their means," Faine said. "The majority of people in this country live beyond their means. But not everybody in the NFL makes millions and millions of dollars, and it's just the persona we've taken on.

"What about the undrafted free agent who really didn't believe a lockout would occur? I believe there are guys who will suffer, but they have a lot of pride and they're not going to tell me about it. The message is where does it stop? I'm not fighting just for me. Players that came before me fought for me."

Around the league

Bears: Offensive line coach Mike Tice signed a one-year extension through 2012. Earlier this week, the team denied Tennessee permission to interview the ex-Vikings coach for its offensive coordinator position.

Bills: Marcus Stroud, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman, was released. The 10-year veteran, 32, who had three sacks last season, would have made $10 million over the final two years of his contract.

Chiefs: Linebacker Tamba Hali was designated a non-exclusive franchise player. If he stays, Hali, who had 14½ sacks last season, is guaranteed a one-year contract equal to the average of the five highest-paid linebackers. He can talk to other teams, who must give up two first-round picks if they sign him.

Raiders: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal with $22.5 million guaranteed. That avoids designating Seymour, who had 5½ sacks last season, the franchise player for the second straight offseason.

Redskins: Kick returner Brandon Banks will remain hospitalized indefinitely because of a collapsed lung, his agent said. James Gould said Banks, who was stabbed in downtown Washington early Saturday morning, is expected to recover in time to begin offseason workouts next month.

Vick off Oprah: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will not appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The interview, set to take place Feb. 22 and air Feb. 24, was to have covered his time in prison, work with the Humane Society and return to the NFL. Vick did not give a reason.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Lockout's effects concern Tampa Bay Buccaneers center/rep Jeff Faine 02/16/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 8:15am]
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