TAMPA — In an effort to educate and galvanize, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith stopped by One Buc Place on Wednesday to address players, one of 28 such meetings with teams across the league.
Smith's goal: to make players aware of how the collective bargaining agreement negotiations with owners, and the prospect of a lockout in 2011, affect them and their families.
"I don't know how likely it is," Smith said of a lockout. "I'm not invited to the owners' planning session. But I know about the steps where our guys look at the objective factors that are out there. We know (the owners have) got a good lawyer who was involved in the NHL lockout (in 2004-05). We know they've talked to coaches about changing their contracts in the event of a lockout.
"What our guys know is they look on the horizon and they see certain steps being made, and really, the message to them is, how do you respond to it? What does it mean? And what do we need to do?"
For now, the answer seems to be hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Players said they emerged from the meeting with a greater awareness and a dose of reality. Among the points Smith made, receiver Michael Clayton said, was that a half-percent concession in player compensation would amount to a $77 million loss.
Other topics Smith addressed included extending the regular season by a game or two, a proposal being promoted by commissioner Roger Goodell. Smith is resisting unless it benefits the players.
"Our guys understand the cost of playing football," Smith said. "Their families see the cost because they see them at home when they're not on television. And our guys understand the cost when on a Monday morning or Tuesday morning, they struggle to stand upright.
"What they don't understand, frankly, is what does the average team make per game? What's the average profit, per team, per playoff game? How have the profits per team, per game either risen or fallen over the last 10 years?"
That was Smith's segue to another sticking point, that owners refuse to open their books to the union during negotiations.
"How can two partners … ever sit down and have a meaningful discussion about this issue or other issues and have one party be in a situation where you don't know the profit-loss situation per team," Smith said.
MILLER'S TIME: Rookie DT Roy Miller spent his second day in a voluntary full-team workout and already is learning that he will have growing pains. It seems they'll be inflicted mostly by fourth-year G Davin Joseph.
"He's a man," Miller said after working against Joseph. "In your mind, you want to think it's just another guy. But going against him, you realize he's really good and it's going to be great practice going against him."