I’m really impressed with the following interview of Domonique Foxworth. Elected the president of the NFLPA last year, Foxworth is not afraid to speak his mind about the current issues for players in the NFL, including the latest CBA, player safety and, more recently, the discussion about diversity in the NFL when it comes to an openly gay player. He touches on all of that here, and the full interview is definitely worth 15 minutes of your Friday. Domonique Foxworth joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Bull and Fox to discuss his transition from player to NFLPA president, the most recent CBA, if the players can ever come closer together with Roger Goodell, his recent article calling for diversity in the NFL and how close we are to seeing an openly gay NFL player in a team’s locker room.
How does it feel to go from being a player to head of the NFLPA?
“It’s a lot harder, but a lot less painful. It’s a very nice way to transition out of the game. It’s not a cold-turkey cut that most guys go through where one day they’re deep involved in football and the next day they have no ties.”
How did you decide this was a good route to go down?
“I was one of the leaders on the negotiations for the CBA. To be honest with you, when I was participating in those negotiations, I just looked across the table at some of the owners and watched what they were doing. And I compared myself to them, and I honestly felt that they were no smarter or more talented than I was. It was kind of the first time I had that realization. … For the most part, the executives are a product of hard work and luck, and so far I’ve been pretty lucky and I don’t mind working hard.”
How good do you feel about the CBA from a player’s standpoint?
“To be completely honest with you, I think it’s been great. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it’s perfect, but that’s the product of negotiations. When you’re negotiating against a Goliath like the NFL, you’re not going to win on every issue. But by and large, I think our players are in a better position than they were in the past. … It’s an ongoing fight, unfortunately.”
It seems like there’s a pretty big rift between the players and Roger Goodell. Can the parties come together or is it always just going to be like that?
“It’s a pretty lucrative endeavor that we are partners in and I think there’s definitely hope that we can move to a better place than we are now. There will always be a number of issues we won’t agree on and we’ll have to negotiate over, but I think some of the things that should be easy, that are kind of beneficial on both sides, should be easy for us to agree to. I think we’re having a hard time doing so because there’s just been a track record that our players don’t soon forget of kind of mistrust and dishonesty from the league side. They can’t get past that, and rightfully so. They want the proper checks and balances and oversight on any decision we make going forward.”
On publishing an article indicating that jocks need to embrace diversity:
“I do believe it’s a civil rights issue and I’m a student of the civil rights era and a collector of civil rights memorabilia. … It just seems like a very obvious step, much like looking back on the 50s and 60s to us today, it’s like, ‘Why were they even fighting over those things?’ I feel like the same thing’s going to happen years from now. People are going to look back and say, ‘When was there a time when openly gay athletes weren’t welcomed into the locker room?’ It’s unfortunate we’re not there yet, but I look forward to getting to that point.”
How close are we?
“I think we’re there. I think we’re as ready as we’ll ever be. I feel that the comments that the 49ers player made, he received a lot of ridicule for it, and deservedly so. But I think there’s a bit of kind of a tacit homophobia that exists. I don’t know if that’s the right terminology, but I think guys get uncomfortable using certain language and talking a certain way about a certain group. … I don’t believe that if one of his teammates spoke to him today and said he was a homosexual, I highly doubt he would flip and turn.”