Now that training camp (hopefully) should come soon and the days of the Revisionist History series have come to and end, this thought I had last night felt like the perfect bridge: How Thursday’s events with the is-it-or-isn’t-it end to the labor talks reminded me so much of the first press conference drama I encountered on this beat, back in 2000, with Simeon Rice.
Everyone who follows this sport now knows how Thursday played out. The owners said they were OK with the deal, and said so in a press conference. The players were upset because they had yet to sign off on the deal, and felt blindsided. So I take you back (briefly this time, compared to the other RH posts) to Rice. Long story short, Rice had been franchised by the Cards after the 1999 season. He wasn’t happy. The one-year tender was for $4.25 million, and the Cards didn’t want to talk extension until Rice signed the tender. Rice, as became clear later, really didn’t want to play in Arizona any more.
Finally, after missing the first game of the season, Rice agreed to come in and sign the tender. But before he signed anything, then-general manager Bob Ferguson took Rice out on the balcony overlooking the rest of the team practicing and basically told Rice what he felt — along the lines that Rice had to show he was worth the money and become a leader, and prove himself to some people in the building. Rice didn’t like that. So, even though a press conference had already been called and the media — swarming the big story at the time — waiting, Rice left the team’s complex.
Ferguson ended up giving a press conference himself. In a twist of what happened this week, the emotion resided not with the one not at the presser but the one giving the presser. Ferguson got angry and bellowed many things (including, for those of you following the team for a long time, the classic “If you’ve got a problem, don’t go talk to Mike Jurecki, come talk to me!” following by a pounding of the table in front of him.)
The story had a happy ending (at least in the short term). Rice returned to the complex the next day and signed his tender. And likewise, at some point, the NFL and players will come together. It won’t be the next day, but it still will be surprising if it isn’t soon.
Tags: Bob Ferguson, labor, Simeon Rice
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