DiMarco: 'I don't want my locker room to go without money'

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With the National Football League year scheduled to start on March 18, 2020, labor peace beyond the coming season remains uncertain.

The NFL owners recently approved a proposed 10-year collective bargaining agreement that would commence at the start of the league year in March 2021. The NFL Player's Association executive committee voted to pass the proposal on to the entire body of players, but the players have yet to vote on it.

The most contentious issue is the owners' plan for a 17-game regular season. Buffalo Bills fullback Patrick DiMarco, the team's player representative, joined Howard and Jeremy on WGR on Monday morning to share his opinion on the proposed 17-game schedule.

“Playing nine years now, looking at it from that standpoint, it’s another half season, which that part of it really doesn’t sound great," DiMarco said. "But, I think with the average guy’s career in the NFL being, I think it’s just under three seasons at this point, I think it’s like 2.75 or 2.8 seasons, if guys are only playing two extra games, three extra games, four or five extra games throughout the course of their career and we’re getting a bunch of more money in their pockets, I think we can make that work. But, obviously that’s a player-by-player stance. My stance is it’s one more game. They’re giving us an extra game check. They’re giving us a bunch of benefits. Salaries are going up, for everybody. So, I think there’s a lot of good in it, but yes, that 17 games does have a little asterisk next to it.”

Should the players deny the proposal, there is speculation the owners would cease negotiating, which could increase the possibility of a work stoppage one year from now. Whether that is a real threat or a bargaining tactic, is something DiMarco believes the players should take into consideration.

“That is a big time risk that we weighed," the veteran admitted. "I didn’t sit in on the exact owners meeting. We had our executive chairman and our five most-tenured NFLPA reps. sit in on those meetings, and before we started meeting as a whole union, before that last meeting, I made sure I talked to all the guys I trust in that room, and really pick their brain, ‘what was [the owners’] intent? What was this meeting like? What were the owners like? Because I wanted to get a feel, are they bluffing? Are they just saying this? Just saying that? And everyone seemed to think if we want to get a deal done early, we have to get a deal done right now. If not, are we going to get as good of a deal when it comes in 2021? That’s the risk. The risk there then will be [the owners] will give us their final offer, and if it’s not as good as this one, we’re going to turn that one down, and then we have to strike. And guys are going to miss work. Guys are going to miss pay. I don’t want my locker room to go without money, especially with all the new guys coming in. My [rookie] year was the 2011 lockout. So, I know how that affected me and how that affected a lot of guys in those one to two years when I was getting in. We were like the lost class. I think they called us that at one point, the 2011 guys."

While no exact date has been reported for the players' vote, DiMarco said he and former Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who was also on the NFLPA executive committee before retiring after this past season, will hold a conference call with all of the Bills players on Tuesday.

Here are some of the other comments DiMarco made on Monday morning on WGR:

 

DiMarco on next step in CBA process and when vote will take place:

“Right now we’re getting the CBA written out, all the legalities, forms, and all that stuff. We have our staff working on that right now, along with the other staff, just to make all of the wording work and make sure there are no twists and turns in the actual offer. I’m excited to get this to the guys to see it, let them get to truly view it. I mean, all the stuff in the media has been kind of all over the place, so I’m excited for the guys to actually get their hands on it and have a chance to read it over, and truly put their own thought and their mind into it and vote it forward.”

 

DiMarco on what the CBA proposal entails:

“[I haven’t read] the full-on, full-out CBA. I mean, it hasn’t been truly written out yet. We kind of scaled it to what the 2011 one was, and then we went over all the tweaks, all the changes. The big impact thing, of course, is the 17th game. That’s the toughest selling point for any rep. going back to the locker rooms. But, there are a lot of good things in this CBA. It’s not perfect. Nobody really wants to play another game, but if we can make it work, then we’re going to make it work.”

 

DiMarco on the CBA vote and if the 17 regular season games is worth it for the players:

“I’m sure you’ve seen all the voting that the executive committee did, and then as the player reps. did to pass it along. It wasn’t a full-on ‘everybody voted to send the proposal to the players,’ but I was one of the guys who wanted to get it in front of my locker room. I wanted my 53, 63 guys to have a chance to read over it and accept it or deny it. So, I voted to move it forward for my locker room to read….It wasn’t an outright pass, but I thought it was fair to try to get this in our guys’ hands, in our locker room, to read it over and truly decide what they think. I voted it forward, and I personally think there’s enough in this deal to make the 17th game worth it.”

 

DiMarco on advising players to save money and how players in Buffalo handle this process:

“We’ve been drilling that in guys heads for about three years now, to start saving money, to make sure you put 20-percent of your take-home away, so you have money to potentially live on, because we never know what’s going to happen with this 2020-2021 CBA. So, we’ve been advising guys to do that. We’ve also been holding royalty checks and the NFLPA has an allotted amount of money to give to guys if we do go through a work stoppage. We’ve been advising guys, and we have a really mature locker room in Buffalo. That could be a different dynamic [on other teams]. We have guys that are pretty mature, even young guys that are pretty mature, and that I can sit in the steam room or the hot tub/cold tub with and have a business conversation. I’m really proud to be with the Bills and under coach McDermott, because they’ve done a really good job of getting these rookies right. We have an incredible rookie development program that kind of trains guys how to be a pro…They’ve done an incredible job.”

 

You can listen to the entire interview below: