The President pleads to Play

  • Jason Mulkey
(courtesy of

(courtesy of


No, I’m not talking about Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America.

Eric Winston was voted to be the new President of the NFL Players association, where he must protect the interests of nearly 1,700 NFL players. However he still plans to protect the Quarterback as well, preferably the one he protected last season in Arizona, Carson Palmer. He wishes to sign with a team as soon as possible, even if it’s not in Arizona, but nobody has made the call just yet.

“I can’t say there have been super-positive talks or anything like that,” said Winston, a free agent who started all 16 games for the Cardinals last season. “It doesn’t seem like anything is being done. I’d still love to come back to Arizona. I love the guys in the locker room, love the city, and I think the team will be really good with or without me. They’re ready to have a special run out there.

“At the same time, it is what it is. I’m looking to get on a team as soon as possible, hopefully before the draft. I know I still have some miles left on the tires, and I’m looking to burn them off.”

There is a reason why Winston was named head man of the NFLPA; he is a smart man, and despite his intentions to return to the Arizona Cardinals, he knows the team has guys like Bobby Massie who is entering a crucial third season in the NFL, and must prove his worth. Also Bradley Sowell could see time at the right tackle position as a back up, as he has been forced to take a backseat to newly acquired left tackle Jared Veldheer.

Winston’s veteran leadership is perhaps based on his NFL experience as he has started in 119 consecutive games. It surely boas well for his new roll as NFLPA President. Even though the league will promote piece until 2022 due to the new collective-bargaining agreement, Winston will still be faced with a lot of issues.

One of the biggest issues that Eric has already spoken about, was of the proposed 18 game season in which no other player in the league seamed to be excited about either.

“I haven’t heard one player ever come up to me and say, ‘Man, Eric, if we can do anything, let’s play two extra games at the end of the season because those 16 weren’t grueling enough,’ ” Winston said. “We didn’t negotiate on that in 2009 and we won’t negotiate on that now. As a player, you shouldn’t have to negotiate for your health and safety.

“Both owners and players have a vested interest in growing the pie as big as we can. I think what separates us is they have a view on how to do it, and we have certain issues we want to hold true to as well. And health and safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It’s hard to look at the research and the data and not be concerned as a player.”

He also understands the value of education, and wants to make sure that the guys get prepared for life outside of football.

“I want us to take advantage of what’s in this CBA,” Winston said. “We have a longer off-season that should allow guys to go back to college and finish their degrees or continue their education. Maybe some sort of internship or job shadow, things that will help players prepare for their next career. And part of that includes understanding simple finances.”

Winston has spoken like a person with authority should since being elected, and is showing great conviction as well. He is an advocate for Arizona, the team, and region, and plans to bring that same advocacy to the NFLPA as well. He’ll be hard pressed to fined out though that players with opinionated political views are not always welcome in the NFL locker room, but Eric begs to differ as he says

“In my mind, it shouldn’t,” Winston said. “If I was a building a team, I’d want as many strong leaders as possible. It’s not like I’m going to be out there with a stopwatch timing every practice or things like that. The people I’ve been around, the coaches and GMs, they know what kind of person I am. I’m an advocate for the players.”

Winston (age 30) definitely  wants to continue his tenure as a player, and as a Cardinal for sure; and I’m sure as President Obama may feel as the nations leader, Eric is for certain their is a lot of unfinished business, not only for the Players association, but as an NFL player as well.

“I know what I can do,” Winston said. “I’m proud of what I put on the field, and I was proud of what I did last year.

“I don’t care how many years you play in the league, to come in a couple days before camp, to have to learn a new offense and then to have to play against the NFC West is very tough. One thing I’m most proud of is my division play. I feel like I held my own out there, and hopefully, we can make another go at it.”

Phoenix Sports-Kings contributor Jason Mulkey @_JayBird79


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