NFL Players Association president Eric Winston thinks a work stoppage is likely in 2021, agreeing with the recent comments made by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who said a strike or lockout in the future "is almost a virtual certainty" and described NFL owners as "greedy."
But Winston, who has been an outspoken critic of the league for some time, went even further, saying that players shouldn't care that a lockout "might kill the goose that laid the golden egg."
"Honestly I don't care, and I don't think the guys in this locker room care whether [the NFL] is going to be around in 20 years, because none of us are going to be playing," Winston, who plays for the Bengals and is in his 11th NFL season, told WCPO on Monday, via ESPN.com. "So if these guys [the owners] want to own for a long time, then they can own for a long time. But another work stoppage might kill the golden goose."
The last lockout came in the summer of 2011 before a new CBA -- one that heavily favored the owners -- was hammered out shortly before the start of the season. Winston says the union is again preparing players for the possibility of another work stoppage.
"I'm certainly not worried about it," Winston said. "I'm not going to be around that long. I don't care if even if there are rookies in here -- they're not going to be playing that long. So if this thing dies out in 20 years, it dies out in 20 years. That's not really my concern, and I don't think it's any of these players' concern in here either."
Smith, during an appearance on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," was asked to respond to Winston's comments.
"The owners locked us out the last time," Smith said. "They took the decision to make sure that people didn't have a place to work. They cut off the insurance to our families. They wanted to force an 18-game schedule. What are you supposed to do? Fight back, right?"
Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to sign a five-year extension, which will run through 2024. His current deal is set to expire in 2019, and with the CBA running through 2020, it's no surprise that the owners want Goodell to negotiate on their behalf, just as he did in 2011.
Winston, who plans to donate his brain to concussion research, has previously spoken out against how Roger Goodell handled the Ray Rice incident, saying that the commissioner's credibility was "definitely lacking" with the players.