I'm in Chicago for Blogs With Balls 6 and taking plenty of notes. I'll be posting my notes from each panel here for the use of anyone who wants to check them out. Keep in mind that these are highlights, not complete transcripts. Every effort is given to be as accurate as possible; apologies for any transcription mistakes. Here are my notes from the NFLPA Q+A with assistant executive director (external affairs) George Atallah and president Eric Winston.
NFLPA: The Business Of Football
George Atallah and Eric WInston
Keith Bulluck asked about players in transition
EW: Worked with league to create The Trust
Helping guys find what they want to do and get into it
"When they get off that field, they've been doing something for so long. They've had that path and that path has always been given to them."
Been going for 24 months, over 1000 enrolees, all you need is one season
The Trust: NFLPA Affiliated organization, funded to nearly $25 million a year through CBA
GA: "Eric, who was a player at the time, and his colleagues, voted to leave money on the table to take care
On concussions: EW: "I don't think it's ever a done situation."
"We've changed a lot of those things and its obviously for the better."
"Hopefully we'll be able to produce new technologies that protect players more than we do now."
"I don't think it's ever going to be a state where we're good."
"It's going to be something we always have to push the envelope on."
Role as a union to push for that and educate their own players
"It's to educate our guys so they can make the decisions for themselves."
Chris Kluwe: "Do you think that having guaranteed contracts for the players would lower the pressure that players face to get back on the field?"
EW: "Without a doubt."
"Our work's never done until that happens."
Concussions: "This isn't an ankle sprain or some torn cartilige. It's much more serious than that."
GA: "No other major sport has guaranteed contracts because of their CBA."
Baseball: "It took an individual player and an agent."
"How do we improve the level of guaranteed money? We just had a phen FA period with the most guaranteed money ever. That's something we're looking to improve."
Leverage: GA: "It took us three years to get a deal on drug policies because players wouldn't agree to a deal that didn't have neutral arbitration."
"We have not accepted the league's new personal conduct policy as part of the CBA precisely because it violates the CBA."
"When there are policies enacted by the league unilaterally that in our belief violate the CBA, we have to stand up and fight."
EW: "It's not always shaking hands and figuring stuff out. Sometimes it's winning court battles."
"It takes time."
"That's how change has happened, unfortunately and fortunately, through the legal system."
Asked about 18 game sched:
EW: "For them, it's probably always in the back of their mind. We know how hard they pushed for it in 2011."
"I won't sign off on it."
More playoff games also an issue
"I don't know how much support there really is for any new games, whether they're playoffs or regular season."
Hitting in youth football: "I'm uncertain about it to a certain age."
Baseball analogy of starting with tee
"The idea that football has to be a contact sport at all times is kind of silly to me."
Specialization: baseball, basketball, football: "I played all three through high school."
On protecting younger players: GA: "Isn't it ridiculous that the NCAA hasn't adopted the NFL's concussion protocols? Isn't it ridiculous that FIFA hasn't adopted the NFL's concussion protocols?"