Russell Okung To Run For NFLPA President

It’s official. Chargers left tackle Russell Okung will run for NFLPA president, as Ken Belson of the New York Times writes. If Okung wins, he could change the complexion of the ongoing labor talks and, potentially, steer the league towards a labor stoppage. 

[RELATED: NFL, NFLPA To Meet On Thursday]

The owners and players have been discussing a new deal based upon the framework of an expanded 17-game regular season. Okung has been vocal in his opposition of the proposal and says that a labor stoppage might be necessary to get the best possible deal for the union.

Are we in an equitable agreement with management?” Okung said. “Right now, the answer is no. This will take as long as it needs to…I expect more, and I’m not willing to be bashful about saying that. I’ve made it really clear we need to exhaust every single opportunity we have in order to put our players in a better situation to take care of themselves, their families and to protect the future of this game.”

Okung is far from the only player who doesn’t want a 17-game season. A source familiar with the negotiations tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that an extended regular season, which will likely come with expanded playoffs, remains a very difficult sell for the league’s players. A reduced preseason isn’t much of a selling point for them, as fewer and fewer vets are playing in the preseason anyway. John Clayton of 710 ESPN Seattle confirms that there is not enough player support for a 17-game schedule (Twitter link).

It’s worth noting that Okung has been at odds with his own union in the past. An independent investigation found that Okung spread confidential information in violation of union rules as a member of the Executive Committee. Okung, for his part, denies any wrongdoing and says he’s the union’s best bet to push back against the rigors of an expanded season.

We can’t neglect those issues in order to get more money,” Okung said. “Am I going to trade health and safety for a buck?

The league will elect its next president in March. Eric Winston, the incumbent, is not eligible for another term because he is two years removed from playing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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8 comments on “Russell Okung To Run For NFLPA President

  1. forwhomjoshbelltolls

    “Am I going to trade health and safety for a buck?”

    Uhmmm, yes? Every single day.

    What he’s saying is “sure, I’ll trade my health and safety for a buck 16 times a year, but not 17”.

    • Sixteen game season is already too long and takes too deep a toll on players’ bodies. Fourteen games was about right. Seventeen is absurd unless the intention is to cripple everyone to ever play pro football for more than a couple of seasons.

      Already, many players don’t make it to the end of a season. When you add in the playoff run for wildcard teams, the season is just way too long. It’s fine for fans but not for players’ health. And players’ health is what the NFLPA should be prioritising. Health first, then wealth. Players have enough money, they don’t have enough health.

      Okung would have my vote.

      • slider1727

        Removing preseason games and adding a bye week will help reduce the impact of another game on players but not all of it.

        I would propose switching to two shortened preseason games with 18 regular season games and three bye weeks one in every six games/seven weeks.

        • The pre-season was built-in for a reason. More games is a bad idea. It would make more sense to go back to fourteen games than building out these marathon seasons. NFL football is not basketball or baseball.

  2. crosseyedlemon

    The first thing Okung will do if elected is conduct his own investigation to find out who on the executive tried to smear him with the rules violation charges. The ensuing battle within the union results in the owners winning without even having to fire a shot.

  3. glooney1

    Reducing the number of preseason games is arguable. Starters don’t play the 1st or last, and only parts of the other two. Almost half of the 90 man roster would have less chance to prove their abilities to coaches.

    Given the amount of turnover within the present setup by injury, performance, etc. the rosters rarely look the same at the end of a season, as was at the beginning. Leave it alone, it’s exciting enough as it is.

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