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Friday, March 18, 2011
NFC West players, alumni lead labor charge

By Mike Sando

Lately, it's tough following the NFL labor dispute without hearing from players linked to current NFC West franchises.

Receiver Sean Morey, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals and briefly the Seattle Seahawks, is on the attack after the league proposed new safety-related rules.

"At the end of the day, why should we be negotiating for our own health and safety? It's unfortunate," Morey said. "We've had to provide every solution to their problem."

Retired guard Pete Kendall, who began his NFL career with Seattle and later played for the Arizona Cardinals, recently spent three weeks in Washington, D.C., as part of the NFL Players Association contingent.

Veteran kicker Jay Feely, player rep for the Cardinals, has provided one of the strongest and most prominent public voices for players throughout negotiations.

Meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes fears the worst for veteran players. He emerged Friday as a widely quoted figure from the ongoing players' meetings in Marco Island, Fla.

Friday morning, current Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy re-tweeted former Seahawks fullback Heath Evans' accusation that commissioner Roger Goodell's recent letter to players was an attempt to divide and conquer them.

Veteran guard Chester Pitts, who spent last season with Seattle and is without a contract for 2011, has fired off some of the angriest sounding missives. Most recently, he took offense to the letter from Goodell.

"I've told my guys to take the letter and set it on fire," Pitts said. "We're not that stupid."

Seldom does incendiary rhetoric call for the actual setting of fires.

The players will be fascinating to follow as this lockout continues. More than ever, they have the ability to speak out as individuals and without the media or NFL public-relations apparatus to serve as filters. That is liberating, but also potentially dangerous for players as they seek to promote a reasonable, unified message to the public.

Their empowerment, as championed by NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith, has brought a new level of emotion to the process, with sometimes regrettable results. I'm expecting more of the same as the NFL presses forward with its strategy of painting players as the ones unwilling to negotiate.