|Goodell has said he is unconcerned about his popularity. (AP)|
It's not necessarily widely known the Steelers were the only team in the league to vote against the 10-year CBA signed by the NFL and the NFLPA last year. And while that dissent means nothing in the grand scheme, it does give those who voted "nay" the opportunity to scream, “I TOLD YOU SO!” at the top of their lungs whenever the subject of Roger Goodell's power arises.
That said, take it away retired receiver Hines Ward.
"So Roger Goodell, even though a lot of players don't like having him in charge, the NFLPA, we signed off on the collective bargaining agreement," Ward told WFNZ in Charlotte, via USA Today.
"And it should be noted that we were the only team who voted against it, and that was a major factor because of how we are fined on our team. In order to go to the appeal committee, we had to go right back to Roger Goddell. So that was one of the big things that we voted no against because we just felt like it was going to be unfair.”
Soon after the ink on the new CBA was dry, players already were criticizing Goodell as the so-called judge, jury and executioner (just the same as before), and nowhere has that been more evident than in the Saints bounty program when he suspended former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely and gave coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma a year's vacation.
But if you listen to the rumblings, the NFLPA probably didn't have a real choice in the matter. It sounds like that, in order to keep the power in the commissioner's office, the league was absolutely not going to budge. In other words, the NFL apparently was ready to allow the lockout to move into the 2011 regular season rather than give away Goodell's power, and knowing that, the NFLPA had to compromise on that issue.
Yet, as Ward says, sometimes those deals have nasty consequences.
"But to the rest of the teams that did vote for the CBA, he's in charge, and those are the rules, and that's what you have to abide by because that's what you signed up for,” Ward said.
All of which led NFL spokesman Greg Aiello to tweet this.
@dkaplanSBJ It's the same "power," or authority, to protect the league's integrity that Rozelle & Tagliabue had, which has served NFL well.— Greg Aiello (@gregaiello) June 27, 2012