NFLPA Isn’t About Helping Tell Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But

By Gregory Moore
Updated: September 28, 2007

National Football League

SAN ANTONIO — Let the mud slinging truly begin. By the way Gene Upshaw sounds in printed stories, you would think that he was a part of the farce that we are calling the presidential election campaigns. You know about that one right? The one in which Donkey and Dumbo have so many people trying to win a nomination you would think it was an EBay blue light special auction or something of the sort.

Well, while Upshaw’s rant and now backing of a new website may not be nearly as entertaining (or the solution to the hot air syndrome in this country), it is nevertheless now becoming quite clear where the NFLPA is making a line of demarcation in the “war” between it and retired players: We don’t give a [bleep] about you if you talk bad against us.

If you are still kind of in the dark, let me turn the light on. The NFLPA now has a companion website called the “Truth Squad: Facts vs. Fiction”. The site can be found at Okay so now the true colors of the NFLPA are out in the open after the Congressional hearings earlier this month. Upshaw doesn’t like how his union has been portrayed in front of a Senate committee hearing and he knows that Capital Hill has no problems making wrongdoers pay.

Ah, poor pasicto, his feelings are being hurt by bad press. So instead of even thinking about trying to stop the pissing match, he has decided to stand near the trough and say, “Okay boys, now let’s see who can pee a little longer!”

What good does this webpage do for anyone in this battle of the titans? Is Upshaw so stubborn to think that this page will endear him to any of the retired players now? Welcome to being a union boss Gene. Having disgruntled former members pissed off at you is a part of the job. Being an outsider now is what happens when you do not think that your former teammates and colleagues are not worthy of your time, your acknowledgements or even your considerations as to maybe helping build a better retired wing of the union so that these issues become the foundation of the greatest sports union ever.

Instead of you embracing your former colleagues and understanding their problems, you sit in the tower, overlook your faux kingdom and proclaim, “I am the king of the NFL land”. To further show how you truly feel about your former colleagues, you now think it is important to expose players because “you” think they lied. Well, I can tell you are not a public relations guy Gene and that’s too damn bad.

Upshaw’s actions are proving some serious things to the sports community right now. Amongst them are the following:

— He has never had the compassion necessary to understand where his former colleagues are.

— He has never sat down with any of his detractors and tried to see where they are coming from.

— He has never considered himself a former player; only a union boss and employee.

— He and/or the union thinks that the majority of these claims by retired players are bogus

That’s just a few of the suppositions that I am now getting from this action by putting up a webpage that is about discrediting former players rather than helping find out how to better a very broken system.

To me, the moment guys like Mike Ditka, Darryl Johnson and others started aiding the former players who have already spoken, Upshaw saw that as a potential threat. This isn’t some type of war game on benefits but it has now escalated to that point because instead of Upshaw trying to diffuse the situation, he has added gasoline to an already raging inferno.

On the site, the union’s mission statement reads as the following: “We, The National Football League Players Association … Pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice, and vision; … Pledge to preserve and enhance the democratic involvement of our members; … Confirm our willingness to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of our membership — To preserve our gains and achieve those goals not yet attained.”

On that new webpage for the truth squad, that mission statement reads as the following: “This page is dedicated to the truth. The NFLPA will do its best to correct serious misstatements of fact — from whatever source — including misleading omissions of fact about the work we do on behalf of all players — past, present and future.”

“As soon as serious published misinformation comes to our attention, the NFLPA will post the misstatement under the heading of ‘fiction’ and then respond with facts, including the name of the individuals responsible for making these misstatements. We may also forward, when appropriate, correcting facts to news organizations that publish the initial misstatements so that they can consider whether published corrections or additional stories are appropriate.”

It is the latter statement gives me grave concerns as to the true commitment as outlined in the former, especially first statement. I’ve looked at the truth squad’s webpage and what I am now seeing in my mind’s eye is a black ops operation that is about destroying a person’s ability to truly get the benefits he deserves. Whether Upshaw like it or not, he has not helped his unmerited cause with the backing or sanctioning of this page.

Upshaw’s critics have every right to complain about a man who makes seven figures, has gone out of his way to say that retired players do not matter to him or the union and that he could care less about some of the Hall of Famers who have taken up this cause. If he thinks a union boss is going to get sympathy in this country then he is living in a dream world.

I know the NFLPA’s offices are in the beltway and that can be a good thing. But this issue between the retired players and their supporters versus the union and their supporters shouldn’t be like the every day politics we see in CNN or Fox. If Upshaw really wanted to help get the truth out there, then the easiest thing for him to do is to help these players understand how they can get their benefits and help them receive them.

Upshaw is fortunate. He has a good lifestyle as a former player. But he needs to stop being like imbecilic ramrods who like saying they know what their constituents want. Sports fans are Upshaw’s constituents and like everybody else in the beltway, we want the truth and not the bull crap that comes off of the steps or some other place in the metroplex. C’mon Gene be a man about trying to be a part of the solution in the right way and not the negative solution that you know is the wrong way.

VICK’S TROUBLES REALLY UNFOLDING BEFORE US Speaking of the union, I’m hoping somebody up there is taking notes as to why more education and symposiums are needed for NFL players. It seems that Michael Vick has defaulted on a couple of loans, mainly one that is of the $2 million variety.

That’s not good for the NFLPA or professional athletes. How a man who has made millions cannot pay back $2 million is really befuddling. I know for a fact that the NFL and the union has various symposiums and continued educational seminars for the players so that they can be successful after their playing days.

But this latest action of Vick is showcasing a side of him that is turning a lot of people off of pro athletes all together. Now added to what was considered a great athletic talent is the words convict, drug user and now thief.

This is serious business and really should be a concern. Supporters of Vick want to see him play and they need to realize just how serious this now has become. Does the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP still think Vick is being railroaded after he stiffed a South Bend bank for $2 million?

Better still can anyone ascertain why Vick didn’t go to an Atlanta bank like Citizen’s Trust and get the loan for a business that was in Atlanta to begin with? Where is this company and its co-owners now and more importantly, where in the hell is the $2 million that Vick owes that Indiana bank?

People say that the media is dog piling on Vick and that there is a double standard in coverage of similar cases. Here’s the problem; there are no similar cases like what Vick is involved in.

Vick supporters need to realize that Michael is not who they want to believe. I want to steal a line from Dennis Green and kind of modify his now famous rant from last season: “Michael Vick is NOT who we thought he was and WE CANNOT let him off the hook!”

Vick needs help and I seriously doubt he is getting it from the right people. I am questioning his friends, his family and even the “church” community that supposedly had embraced him just before his sentence. I am questioning all of these individuals and entities because if they were truly about helping Michael, he would not have been smoking marijuana and he would not have basically defrauded a bank.

If he truly were under spiritual guidance, his pastor would not be his buddy but be the whipping rod that is about trying to get him to be responsible for his actions. If his family truly loved him, they would have understood long ago that their way of coping with adversity is negative to all involved.

There are far too many athletes like Vick who are now the social outcasts of the sports and African American community. Mike Tyson, “Pacman” Jones, O.J. Simpson, Rae Carruth and just recently added, Sean Jones. Vick is now in that mix as well and somebody has to be willing to really reach out and help him and others.

Vick needs the help that he is not getting. Somebody needs to stand up to him and tell him no. They need to because we are now seeing things that no one ever thought possible about him and his character. This positive drug test could be the final nail in the killing of an NFL career.

Somebody needs to intervene before they cannot do so. Let’s hope somebody can stop the unfolding and unraveling of what was once considered a promising young man who could have really been a great athlete in his own time.