Champ Packers premiere highlight reel despite dark cloud of lockout
Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 3:11 pm
By: By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A month has passed since the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, and Greg Jennings still can’t wipe the smile off of his face.
So when the wide receiver was asked for his take on the latest developments in negotiations between NFL owners and the players union over a new collective bargaining agreement, Jennings insisted he had a major development to announce.
“I talked to somebody yesterday, or, like, a minute ago, and … they signed it,” Jennings deadpanned.
He couldn’t hold a straight face for more than a few seconds.
“No, I’m joking,” he said.
If this week passes without a new deal, the league’s uncertain labor situation will be no laughing matter.
Jennings, Donald Driver and fellow wide receiver James Jones were back in Green Bay on Monday night to attend the premiere of the team’s official season highlight DVD, which was scheduled to be available in stores today.
It was another chance for the players to relive the season, but the reality of the unsettled labor situation wasn’t far aways.
Asked if the players might have more leverage than they have in past negotiations, Driver said owners always will be dealing from a position of strength — but said he was confident that NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith will deliver a good deal for players.
“I think the owners, they’re going to always have the upper hand,” said Driver, one of the Packers’ alternate union representatives. “They own the team. But I think the players right now, we know exactly what we want to fight for. That’s why we have De Smith doing his job, and he’s going to do his job well to make sure that the players get exactly what we need to get, to make sure that everything works out for both sides.”
The current collective bargaining agreement originally was set to expire last week, but two extensions have now pushed it to Friday.
And while the continuation of negotiations with a mediator is seen as a positive sign, it isn’t clear how much progress the sides actually are making on their significant differences.
Not having a new CBA in place is particularly significant to Jones, who confirmed Monday that he has received a restricted free agent tender offer.
And Driver said he’ll definitely be back.
“So many people think that after you win the Super Bowl, you’ve got to retire,” Driver said.
For now, Driver is basking in the big win — so much so that he seemed to be looking forward to a night-owl autograph session at a local electronics store, where the Packers’ championship DVD was scheduled to go on sale at midnight.
Speaking before the premiere Monday evening, Driver said he expected fans to be in line when he got there and hoped he’d be finished signing by 2 a.m. — although he was willing to stay longer.
“You’ve got to make everyone happy,” Driver said.
Of course, nothing would make fans happier than a new labor deal this week.
“They’ll work something out,” Jones said. “Until then, enjoy yourself — that just means we’ve got more time with our families. Just hang out, and hopefully they get something done. I mean, they’re arguing over a bunch of money. So hopefully we can figure something out.”