Saturday: Rookies won't face repercussions

March, 29, 2011
3/29/11
8:11
AM ET
One prevalent line of thinking about draftees going to the NFL’s event and shaking hands with commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City has been that those who did so would face repercussions from veterans for it down the road.

Colts center Jeff Saturday, who was a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee before the union decertified, was on the NFL Network Monday. Players have decided to have a draft event of their own, but not pit it directly against the draft.

[+] EnlargeJeff Saturday
AP Photo/Alex BrandonJeff Saturday said he doesn't expect any fallout for players who decide to attend the draft in New York.
And Saturday said he doesn’t expect repercussions from veterans for guys who go to Radio City Music Hall:
“Well, I think each team will be different. It’s a tough situation though for a young guy. I think, from my perspective, I’m looking here is a 20-, 21-, 22 year-old young man who this has been his dream his whole life. I think we all agree we’re going to play football again at some point, and so to be that strong as a player, when the guy shows up on my team and he’s been drafted and he becomes part of the Indianapolis Colts, I’m going to respect him for what he does, and that’s what he does on the field and how he lives his life as man. So that one isolated incident I don’t think will make or break what a rookie’s going to look like to the veterans.”

Two other points of interest from Saturday’s appearance from a transcript provided by the NFL Network:

1) Saturday thinks if the court elements of the situation wind up appealed, that things could still be resolved by early August at the latest.

“My opinion on this thing is, and obviously my hope, is that we win in April. And if we win in April but the owners say, 'OK, look, we lost the TV case, we lost this case, let’s get a settlement going, let’s get whatever we’ve got to do to get a product back and get something settled.’ Or if they appeal it and it goes, as you said, on appeal, at least in July you get to that point. ...

“When we had outside counsel come in and give us kind of how the courts in Minnesota and how it kind of works out, they projected the latest in that July, maybe early August-type date. So when we’re making our decision, we based our decision on that type of timing. We want football to stay as regular as possible, we don’t want to lose games, we don’t want to push games back; we want to be playing football at the right time. And we want our players to be playing football at the right time. So I would not foresee this going past that point.”

2) If rules revert to the ones used in 2010, when it took six years instead of four to reach unrestricted free agency, Saturday said some guys will suffer for it but most will come out OK in the end. And the fight for such things will dent his attractiveness to other teams if and when he is looking for his next NFL job.

“I know players in my locker room and many men that call me and talk to me, it’s frustrating because they wanted [free agency]. But one of the issues, and I know you don’t want to get into it, but one of the issues was cutting down the years of a contract so guys can actually hit free agency. So somebody’s going to have to bear that. For a guy like myself, I can assure you my job stability went way down when I walked into that room. There’s not many of those owners that are going to want to hire me anymore. So there’s a lot of guys who have sacrificed part of their career or part of their future for what’s going to happen, and that’s where those guys fall.

"As tough as it is on those guys, I’ve assured them when you take it, you have a very good chance of winning and being paid on it, and still hitting free agency later. Now, it may not be exactly what you wanted, but the chances and what we’re laying the groundwork for the future of our players and our game is a much better system.”

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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