As the Bengals player representative for the NFLPA, Andrew Whitworth is exercising patience while considering the fine print of the current CBA. While NFL fans were breathing a collective sigh in July 2011 as the lockout ended with a collective bargaining agreement between NFL owners and players, Andrew Whitworth was faced with the urgent task of communicating the agreement to his Bengals teammates. As Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, players are still familiarizing themselves with the changes while entering their second offseason under the new agreement.
One year into the new CBA, both sides are still trying to get a feel for the changes. And as is the case with any labor agreement, there are going to be positives and negatives. Whitworth, however, doesn’t think now is the time to judge matters.Whitworth believes that more time will be necessary for players to truly get a feel for how they’ll judge the new CBA, in the long run. The more immediate offseason effects of the lockout, as Reedy points out, are the amount of practices as well as the amount contact permitted. NFL teams are no longer participating in more than one practice per day this offseason, a byproduct of the CBA last offseason that Andrew Whitworth believes will extend players health and careers. Sunday will be the final day of shoulder pads for players as they will dress in full pads beginning tomorrow. Whitworth also commented on players’ criticism currently directed toward commissioner Roger Goodell particularly due to how he is handling the Saint’s bounty-gate controversy.
Said Whitworth: “I think guys are for the most part very appreciative of what we get to do, the opportunity, all those things. I think where really relationships have been strained has been between a lot of players and Goodell. … Sometimes a lot of guys don’t appreciate – and I don’t know Roger well enough to know – that what they get in person is not what they get when they walk out of his office. “So that’s the thing a lot of guys have stressed and a lot of guys have said over and over. And I think sometimes it gets turned one way or the other, but I think a lot of guys just have trouble getting along with him.”Of course, no offseason story would be complete if Marvin Lewis’ recent Twitter ban wasn’t a topic of discussion. While Andrew Whitworth is reportedly supportive of Marvin’s decision, it brings into question whether or not Marvin’s prohibition is actually a violation of the CBA.
“There are all kinds of things that people don’t know is actually illegal or actually this or that until you get into a lawsuit or whatever else and somebody finds Section A of B of Point 3. That’s kind of one of those things,” Whitworth said. “The little things are going to happen throughout this process and we’re going to find out, ‘Hey, there is a rule for this or that.’ There were so many things getting negotiated so many different ways, I’m sure a lot of people don’t realize they are in the CBA.”As previously mentioned, Whitworth is a supporter of initiatives which benefit the overall health and wellness of players. Reedy mentions the league announcement of NFL Total Wellness, an effort that will provide care for current and former players as well as players transitioning into retirement from the NFL.
While football fans everywhere are absorbing and appreciating a full offseason for the first time since 2010, there appears to be plenty of continued education from player representatives such as Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth is getting back into routine, keeping football as his focus and the latest CBA as a constant resource for player understanding and guidance.