DETROIT--In the modern NFL, holding out of training camp is as common as a screen pass or a zone defense. Yes, training camp is “mandatory” but that doesn’t stop anyone with a lousy contract and a good agent from staying at home.
Well, almost anyone. There is still one sucker who insists on showing up for camp every year, despite the fact that his contract is not worth the paper it’s printed on. That player? Linebacker Earl Williams of the Detroit Lions.
“Earl is a great guy. He shows up to play ever year and he never complains,” said Lions GM Matt Millen. “That’s the kind of player that I love. It doesn’t matter how much money he’s making or how bad we shit on him during contract negotiations. He still comes to camp, and you know why? Because he’s a pussy.”
In 2003, Williams was the recipient of a 6-year-deal from the Lions worth $4.5 million. He received no signing bonus and the contract is loaded with incentives that he may never reach. What’s more, the team will most likely cut him after the 2005 season to clear room under the salary cap. While most players would try hard to get a payday before being cut, Williams is a stubborn throwback.
“I’m not going to skip training camp just because I’m not happy with my contract,” he said. “That’s not what I’m about. Sure I could make more money. Sure I could have a more fair deal. But I signed the contract and I will honor it, even though the team has no obligation to honor it themselves. Hell they can rip it up and throw it in the trash if they want. But I’m not going to complain. I have no right whatsoever to demand fair treatment from my employer.”
Williams also pointed out that training camp is mandatory for all players.
“Hello? They don’t call it mandatory training camp for nothing. Everyone is supposed to be there. You have to show up. Do you know what happens to players who don’t show up for training camp? Very little. Actually they might even end up with a newer, more lucrative deal. But they’ll have to live with the fact that they held out of camp and betrayed the owners. I swear, I don’t know how they sleep at night.”
Despite his honorable stance, Williams is the subject of derision among his fellow NFL players. Even his own teammates often tease him about his reluctance to stand up for himself in contract negotiations. For some players, holding out is their only weapon in an economic system that is designed to benefit the owners.
“Hey, man, I would skip training camp in a minute if I had to,” said Lions cornerback Dre Bly. “What do I care about the goddamn owners? They don’t care about me. Plus, you can get away with it. That’s the great thing. Even if you’re only a marginal player and the team doesn’t give in to your demands, you can still return to the team whenever you want and start playing again. There’s no penalty for it. Technically you could pretend to be disgruntled with your contract just to get out of training camp. Not that I would ever do that. I’m Dre Bly. If I didn’t show up to camp nobody would even notice.”
One factor that may be working against Williams is his decision to work without an agent. He is one of a handful of NFL players who have decided to represent themselves during negotiations rather than utilize the services of somebody like Drew Rosenhaus. That approach has endeared him to owners across the league.
“He has no agent! None whatsoever! Oh, man I love that,” said one NFC owner, laughing hysterically. “That is the best. These guys walk into negotiations with this clueless look on their face. You give them a cup of coffee and hand them a contract that would be an insult to a Malaysian sweatshop worker and then watch them sign on the dotted line. Then they report to training camp right on time every year and work themselves nearly to death while you and your cronies sit up in a luxury box and smoke cigars. Oh, and here’s the punch line: If they do hold out of camp, they get vilified for it.”
He also pointed out that the emergence of agents like Drew Rosenhaus has helped owners in a lot of ways.“People like Drew Rosenhaus have been great for the owners. He’s such a sleazy, diabolical, scheming prick that it’s impossible for people to sympathize with him. As long as he’s representing athletes, the dipshits in the mass media will demonize him and paint us as victims. As a ruthless billionaire, you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Copyright 2005, The Brushback - Do not reprint without permission. This article is satire and is not intended as actual news.
|Sucker NFL Player To Attend Training Camp|
|July 19th , 2005 - Volume 1 Issue 104|