Vikings rep Steve Hutchinson on new CBA: 'It's a good give-and-take'
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Final logistics and language aside, Minnesota Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson has no qualms about the labor deal he and his fellow NFL Players Association representatives are expected to endorse on Monday.
"I think, honestly, it's a good give-and-take," Hutchinson said on Sunday, while walking the red carpet at the Starkey Hearing Foundation gala.
"I think there's some things that they wanted to go more their way -- and when I say that, I mean the owners' side. I think there's some things that we made some pretty significant strides in player safety. We got the economics figured out. There's a common language now. The economic side of it on our behalf is good.
"All around, I think it's a good deal, and hopefully, we can just get it signed on the dotted line."
Owners have received adjustments to the revenue split and rookie pay as they wanted. Players have received enhanced minimum-spending rules, a reduced offseason and fewer contact practices.
The NFLPA's executive committee traveled on Sunday to Washington, D.C., and are expected to recommend approval of the collective-bargaining agreement on Monday.
If all goes well, Hutchinson said, the executive committee then would send the 10-year deal to the player reps -- or "advocates" as they're technically called since the union decertified -- for a vote as soon as Monday afternoon.
"I think there will be some good news coming out (Monday)," Hutchinson said.
Owners voted 31-0 with the Oakland Raiders abstaining on Thursday to approve the deal, shortly before Commissioner Roger Goodell led a triumphant media conference.
But the NFLPA refused to vote on the deal in a conference call that night, choosing instead to take the weekend to review the terms, and several players blasted the vote as an underhanded power play by owners.
According to Hutchinson, one of the primary problems with the deal was that owners wanted the NFLPA to recertify as a union by Tuesday -- days before most teams would report to training camp, leaving little time for player reps to collect enough union cards.
Players' certification is crucial for the NFL to preserve its antitrust exemption, "but you've got to give us a little bit of a realistic situation to work with," Hutchinson said. "So, we're trying to figure out a way to get guys in camp on time and then sign the cards when we get there and still hold the deal true."
Several other Vikings attending Sunday's gala echoed the sentiments players around the league have shared for weeks: they don't really know what's going on, but they hope it's over soon.
Players have received periodic e-mail updates from Hutchinson and the Vikings' assistant reps, Ben Leber and Jared Allen. But even those veterans only have been privy to so much information as executive director DeMaurice Smith and other top NFLPA officials sorted out a situation that also involved three simultaneous court cases.
"The thing about it is it's been a class-action lawsuit this whole time," Hutchinson said. "There's pretty much been a gag order on everything. So, the reps, even though we are the reps -- or the advocates now, without a union -- we haven't been involved in the day-to-day talks. It's been really the executive committee and DeMaurice and the lawyers.
"It hasn't really been open to discussion much, because it is a lawsuit and there's a lot of things that can't be discussed outside of court. So, it hasn't been as taxing on the advocates, the 32 advocates on the team, as it has been on the executive committee and De. They've been literally eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing this settlement for five, six months now. It gets filtered to us through conference calls, what can be talked about.
"To be honest with you, it's been a weird offseason, the longest I've ever had since really being in high school, I would say. I'm not going to say it's all bad. I get to see my family a lot, spend a lot of time with the kids. But I know those guys on the executive committee have been really humping it to try to get this done."