Olean Times Herald

Crist: Some Of The Demands Are Ridiculous

SALAMANCA – Like any good “union man,” Chuck Crist is concerned what the public thinks about the strike of which he is a part.

In fact, the former Salamanca Central sports standout, now in his third year with the NFL’s New York Giants, admits that he doesn’t agree with all 63 demands made by the striking Players’ Association.

But he quickly qualifies that statement.

“There’s no question,” he says, “that some of the demands are ridiculous. Yet there’s something you have to remember. These demands weren’t made by 12 or 15 people. They’re the result of a poll of all the players (over 1,200). Naturally, every player has different ideas about what he’d like to see.”

The former Penn State basketball star, who never played football in college, adds, “All the players have an equal right to see their ideas considered. There are 63 demands, but I’m sure many are negotiable. It’s like anything else when you negotiate a contract, you start your demands high and hope to strike a happy medium. That’s basically the case here.”

To illustrate, Crist cited the $25,000 minimum salary sought by the NFLPA (currently the minimum is $12,000).

“The current minimum,” he says, “was formulated in 1966. Just with the cost of living increases that figure should now be $17,000. It’s tough for anybody to live on $12,000 today. But I’m fairly sure the Association is willing to negotiate for, say, $20,000. But in any case, no matter how ridiculous some of the demands seem, we have to stick together and be unified.”

Like many of the players, Crist is anxious to see the strike over,

He admits, “I’m getting edgy, partly because I don’t know what to plan on. I hope it’s settled quickly. The last time there was a strike, they met 55 times and accomplished nothing, then all of a sudden, they settled in three hours. The thing is, the Players’ Association has been pointing toward this strike since I came into the league (1972). That’s all I heard, ‘We’re going on strike.’”

The 6-2 strong safety sees one big benefit to negotiations.

“We got a big lift,” he says, “from the College All-Stars. They’re mostly high draft choices who’d be assured of making squads. By saying they won’t even practice without a settlement helps our bargaining position. At least, it’ll get both sides back to the bargaining table. The All-Stars aren’t losing much either, they only get $250 for playing the game.”

The Players’ Association, to Crist’s mind, is better prepared to handle a strike this time around.

“I’m not really that active in the Association,” he says, “but they’ve done a great job of keeping us informed. We get newsletters every two weeks and I talk with the Giants’ player reps (Charlie Evans or Dan Goich) every week. The last time there was a strike, they didn’t even know how to give a news release correctly. This year players willingly make themselves available to the press for interviews so the public remains aware of what we’re after.”

Crist also sees another help.

“Those big name players on the picket lines really make a difference,” he says. “Let’s face it, outside of Western New York, how many people know me? But get a guy like Alan Page on the picket lines, who is nationally known, and it really has an impact.

But you may see Crist on the picket line anyway.

The Giants defender, who currently weighs 204 (11 under last year’s playing norm) notes, “Our player rep told me I wouldn’t have to be involved in picketing in New York because I live so far away. But I told him I was close to Buffalo so I’m waiting to be contacted by Reggie (McKenzie, Bills’ rep) to see if I should go up there Friday (when the rookies report.)”

Crist feels the key issue remains the Rozelle Rule, or “option clause.” That’s what binds a player to his team and gives NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle the power to decide what compensation must be given when a player switches teams after playing out an option.

“I’m sure,” he says, “they’d (Players’ Association) would like to see him (Rozelle) out, but I think they’d settle for his powers being curbed and lessening his image as an owner’s man.”

Crist concludes, “I know they’re taking us seriously this time. The owners never would’ve signed all those free agents if they hadn’t. But I just hope the thing gets settled and we can get back to football.”

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