Archie Griffin on union: 'The players are not blind'

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

Archie Griffin says he wasn't surprised by the push to unionize. (USATSI)
Archie Griffin says he wasn't surprised by the push to unionize. (USATSI)
There's been no shortage of reaction to Wednesday's National Labor Relations Board decision to approve Northwestern football players' drive to unionize, but the opinion Ohio State fans might most be interested in is that of a former player himself: Archie Griffin, the only back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner and Buckeye legend.

And while Griffin told the Columbus Dispatch he's "not too crazy about" the effort to unionize, he also said an effort like the College Athletes Players Association's was inevitable.

"It doesn't surprise me, I'll say that,” Griffin said. “We should have seen it coming with college football the way it is today ... The players are not blind. They see the dollars being made in the game. It's obvious ...

"I think they should be getting more than they're getting right now, no question. At the very minimum, they should be getting paid the full cost of attendance. They don't get a whole lot more than what I got when I played 40 years ago: board, books and tuition."

A scholarship that covered more of an athlete's expenses was one of the CAPA's 11 specific goals detailed at its initial announcement, along with better safety regulations (particularly regarding concussions) and stronger scholarship guarantees. (It's worth noting that direct "pay-for-play" was not among those 11.)

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Dispatch that he would "wait and see" what resulted from Northwestern's appeal of Wednesday's decision before preparing any policy changes. As of now, the ruling only affects private schools, and there's the possibility the case could be taken all the way to the Supreme Court.

Which means that, for now, any wailing about the end of college football -- or even drastic changes to the on-field product of college football -- is obviously premature. But as Griffin says, and the bevy of NCAA-directed lawsuits have shown, it's not a surprise that the time for some sort of change seems to have arrived.

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