Matt Light on DeMaurice Smith: Preparing for ‘battle’
|11.11.10 at 12:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — NFL players are accustomed to battles on the field but the one they’re planning for off of it might be their toughest yet.
NFL Players Association boss DeMaurice Smith traveled to Foxboro Thursday to meet with Patriots player rep Matt Light and the team, listening to their concerns as the NFLPA continues to take steps to decertify the union in preparation for the possibility of a lockout by owners next season.
“I think it will be good,” Light said before Thursday’s practice for the Steelers Sunday night. “Anytime you have the leadership here and in place, they’re here to deliver a message and to let the guys know what they’re thinking and what we’re all thinking and what we need to plan for and what we need to do.
“That’s their job is to inform guys of the upcoming battle and what to expect. I think a lot of the guys have been waiting for this for a while.”
Smith was originally scheduled to meet with the Patriots in late September before being called to the funeral of Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley.
So far, 26 teams have voted to decertify, a routine step in the process to prepare the union for collective bargaining, which is ongoing between the NFL and the NFLPA.
But there is another pressing concern players want to address with their union leader – player safety and the need to include player input on a panel that hands out sometimes harsh fines for violent hits each week. To this point, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has had that voice and has incurred the criticism of players around the league for handing out fines for hits without first gathering input from former and current players.
“I think fairness is a concern,” Light said. “You have to make sure these things are fair, they’re measurable, that you can judge them and it’s not just one person’s opinion. You have to be able to measure these things up against something else. I think that’s the biggest concern and at the end of the day, players’ safety is another huge concern.
“It’s a fine line and I’m sure they’ll find a system that will work the best but one of the biggest problems and the problem I’ve always had with the system is they actually take the money out [of paycheck] before you actually have a chance appeal or go through an appeal process. That’s something we’ll have to address and something that should be tightened up.”
Safety Brandon Meriweather was fined $50,000 for his hit on Todd Heap in a win against the Ravens on Oct. 17 while Myron Pryor and Gary Guyton were docked $7,500 each for separate hits on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. “I think it will be good,” Light said. “Anytime you have the leadership here and in place, they’re here to deliver a message and to let the guys know what they’re thinking and what we’re all thinking and what we need to plan for and what we need to do.”