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How Much Labor Negotiating Clout Does Drew Brees Have?

For Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column today, his SI colleague Jim Trotter includes a story on how the NFL labor negotiations almost blew up last Thursday:

With only five minutes to go before the union's deadline to decertify last Thursday -- a move that might have obliterated the NFL as we know it today -- a player walked into the negotiating room that included commissioner Roger Goodell, league attorney Jeff Pash, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Kevin Mawae and declared: "We're done! We're decertifying."

The name of this mystery player has not been released, but Mike Florio believes it was Drew Brees. Here's why:

First, he’s the only quarterback on the Executive Committee, and quarterbacks are the natural and obvious leaders in football. Second, because Brees has at all times been reasonable in this process, a strong message from him will have a far greater impact than a strong message coming from someone with a reputation for sending strong messages. Third, Brees reportedly will attach his name to the antitrust lawsuit filed after decertification; it makes sense for him to let it be known that this avenue is being pursued. Fourth, to the extent that some members of the Executive Committee reportedly are concerned about being blackballed once the labor dust settles, Brees is the least likely to be shunned, given that he’s one of the best players in the league and that he has plenty of quality years left in the tank. Fifth, Brees likely has studied the issues sufficiently — including last week’s 28-page "lockout insurance" ruling — to become genuinely pissed about the tactics that league has used (in the estimation of Judge David Doty) to leverage the players.

Not sure how much of a story this is because, even if this was Drew, he was speaking on behalf of all of the players and it seems most of them are ready for a fight. Florio is wrong that Brees is the only QB on the Executive Committee. He seems to have forgotten what position Charlie Batch plays. Maybe he meant to say starting quarterback when stating the logic behind his assumption.

He goes on to list this anonymous quote, which he also believes might be from our mighty QB:

"We’re ready to go," an anonymous player (Brees?) told Trotter. "If this is what it’s going to take for them to negotiate fairly and take us seriously as partners, then let’s do it. Honestly, most players come from the background where if their backs are being pushed against the wall they’re going to fight back. They’re not going to turn and cower. That’s just the DNA of most NFL players, because that’s what got us here. It’s that survival skill and that ability to fight in pressure situations that has got us to this level. That’s what you’re seeing right now and will continue to see as we go forward."

I don't often agree with Mike Florio's opinion, but the above comment does read like something Drew Brees might say. We all know from the many quotes we've read from Sir Breesus and the many times we've seen him speak on TV that he's a very articulate and well-spoken person who has no difficulty expressing his thoughts.

Could Drew have this much clout in the labor negotiations? As we already know, if the union decertifies and sues the league, the named players in the suit would be Mr. Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. Of those three, Drew seems like the one who's been logging the most hours in Washington D.C. while these discussions take place.

From Trotter's report. this is the only part that makes me wonder if it really was Drew:

At that point the aforementioned player -- whose name is being withheld because of the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations -- walked into the room upstairs, tapped Mawae on the shoulder and made a quick hand-across-the-throat gesture while making his decertification declaration.

I guess it's possible Drew could make this gesture to emphasize the comment "We're done! We're decertifying," but I have a hard time seeing him do this. Doesn't mean he isn't the ballsy player who did it, though. It just seems like something a defensive position player might be more prone to do.

If it was our beloved QB, I say give 'em hell, Drew! From what I've been reading, I can see why the players think the owners have just been jerking them around. Peter King suggests the owners might finally open their books to the players this week, since this has been the main thing the union has been asking for all along. This may happen to some extent, but I have my doubts that the owners will be as forthcoming with their expense records as the players want. I suspect they'll just give them a peek and then quickly slam the books closed again. Or, the players will be given documents with large blacked out sections similar to redacted government documents released after someone wins a "Freedom of Information Act" suit.


Judy Battista of The New York Times is reporting that is wasn't a player who walked in and delivered this desertification message last Thursday. She's saying a source told her it was NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler.