Let me just preface this article by saying that I love Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey.
I love the leadership he has displayed in the locker room since Pittsburgh made him its first-round pick all the way back in 2010. I love how he was one of the first players to stand up and say that James Harrison was full of stuff after Harrison got himself cut near the end of the 2017 season and subsequently signed with the hated Patriots. I love how Pouncey, almost on instinct, stood up for his quarterback—his backup quarterback, mind you—when he laid a beating on Browns defensive end Myles Garrett last November right after Garrett smashed Mason Rudolph over the head with his own helmet.
I am also proud to say that I am old enough to have witnessed three future Hall of Fame centers play for the Steelers (despite his lack of love from sites like Pro Football Focus, I am pretty sure Pouncey will wind up in Canton, when all is said and done).
But that Hall of Fame part, that’s where a player like Pouncey may be a bit out of touch with his fellow NFL players—at least as it pertains to the proposed new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that the NFLPA approved on Wednesday and sent to the players for a vote.
Pouncey posted an obscenity-laced video to social media on Wednesday where he criticized the NFL and even the union representatives for this new proposal that includes a 17th regular season game:
“Man, this s—‘s so f—ing crazy man. I vote no,” Pouncey said in a quote courtesy of Yahoo and ProFootball Talk. “F— that s—. Our NFLPA, the dudes at the top, the leaders, man that s— is all f—ing bulls—. F— that, they ain’t looking out for the best of the players. If y’all want my vote, the Pouncey twins vote no.”
Pouncey isn’t the only player that has come out strongly against this proposed new deal, other stars such as J.J. Watt, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have also expressed their displeasure.
Again, though, those players, like Pouncey, are stars, meaning, they’ve already gotten theirs.
Pouncey’s last two contracts with the Steelers have netted him $25 million in guaranteed money, alone. And when you look at his previous deal, combined with his current one, Pouncey will earn roughly $70 million through the 2021 season....and that’s not even including what he made on his rookie deal.
How many NFL players will ever earn that much money? Very few, and that’s why this proposed new CBA—one that will reportedly net every player a prorated extra game check (the proposed $250,000 cap has reportedly been scrapped, according to USAToday)—will be really hard to pass up for your average—emphasis on average—NFL player.
If you’re a superstar whose earned near or over $100 million during your NFL career, what do you care about a prorated extra game check? You’re set for life. You probably aren’t even all that concerned that the new deal won’t include lifetime health insurance for every NFL player.
You’re just mad that you have to go out there and put your body on the line for an extra 50 or 60 plays a year. I get it. But you have to understand how important an extra game check is to the average NFL player, someone who is earning six figures a year and knows his last day on the job could happen at any moment.
Phil Simms talked about this last year on his Unbuttoned podcast, when the possibility of an 18-game regular season was being discussed by the owners:
“More money. More game checks. It’s pro-rated. Give me two more game checks. If you put it up to a vote by the NFL players, it’ll overwhelmingly go over and say yes. Some of the elite quarterbacks and a few players, no. Well yeah, you’re making 25 and 30 million. But the guys that are making a million or less...two more game checks? Are you kidding me? Think about what those checks look like and how much that is and how much of a difference that makes in their lives.”
While the stars talk about providing lifetime security for themselves and their families, the average NFL player, well, he just has to make as much money as he can while he can.
Yes, it’s still a lot of money compared to the rest of society, but it’s not enough to provide lifetime security. It’s not enough to not be concerned with the cost of future medical bills.
Ramon Foster, the Steelers player representative, once remarked earlier in his career that he didn’t make enough money to afford the injury insurance that so many of the superstars take advantage of.
That’s the plight of your average NFL player, and it’s those kinds of financial issues that will likely lead to this proposed new CBA being approved by the rank and file.
Maurkice Pouncey might be a great and vocal leader, but he’s not someone the average NFL player will likely look to for guidance when casting his vote on this proposed new deal.