DeMaurice Smith’s Friday Evening Statement

March 11th, 2011

From Executive Director DeMaurice Smith:

This has been a long and arduous process. Many of our players are tired. I am tired. We have worked hard as a player leadership for two years to prevent this moment.

To the fans, we are sorry it came to this today. You deserve better. I am truly sorry. The players are sorry. Our players – YOUR players – left everything they had at the table. I have asked them for two years to commit themselves to this process. I have asked them as businessmen in the business of football to commit to leading their teammates through this process. I have asked them to leave their families, be at every meeting, review every document and engage in every part of negotiations. They exceeded every expectation. They should be proud and hold their heads high for their leadership. 

I want to thank all of you that have supported our players from the beginning, who took the time to understand the issues related to the business of our game and will remain a part of our family. These teams are your teams, from Steeler nation to the 12th man in Seattle.

As businessmen, we asked the owners two years ago to consider two basic tenets to getting a fair deal: financial transparency and the health and safety of our players. Financial transparency would help us reach a compromise. Even until the last moment, we were rebutted. And as for health and safety, that’s a non-negotiable issue. To our players, I will not ever yield on this point. There is no price tag for your arms, legs, backs, necks, shoulders and brains.

To our forefathers: Radovich, White, Mackey, McNeil, Duerson and Powell; I want you to know that the torch has been passed to Brady, Brees, Manning, Vrabel, Umenyiora, Leber, Mankins, Robison, Jackson, and a brave young Aggie prospect named Von Miller. The measure of our Association is the men and their families who fight for the only thing they can bestow to each other: a better game, a safer game and a recognition from those who own for common respect.

This is the only inheritance we can provide to the men who play, their families and those who have served before and after us.

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