Monday's NFL: Petition seeks union for running backs

Associated Press
Last season, Le'Veon Bell opted to sit out all year instead of sign his franchise tag tender with the Steelers.

A petition reportedly has been filed with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to create a separate union for NFL running backs.

According to the website Law360, the petition was filed Thursday by the International Brotherhood of Professional Running Backs and focuses on the shorter careers for players at the position.

“These employees have unique career structures; and the current one-size fits all unit is inappropriate,” the petition says of players’ representation by the NFL Players Association. “Excluded: All other player groups,” it said.

The NFL Management Council and the union have begun preliminary negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement. The current 10-year deal expires in March 2021.

A message to the players’ union seeking comment was not immediately answered.

Running backs often draw attention for their holdouts, with Dallas star Ezekiel Elliott currently missing Cowboys training camp. Last year, former Michigan State standout Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire season rather than sign his franchise tag tender with Pittsburgh. He subsequently became a free agent and signed with the New York Jets for $52.5 million over four years.

The average pro career for a running back is 2.57 years, by far the shortest of any position. Their average salary through the 2018 season was $1.291 million, which ranked below every position but long snapper. Fullback was at $995,145, but there are few fullbacks in the NFL.

Sitting out suits Barkley

Saquon Barkley has no problem watching preseason games from the sidelines, if that’s what Giants coach Pat Shurmur wants.

While in uniform, Barkley, the NFL offensive rookie of the year last season, was a spectator and cheerleader for the Giants’ 31-22 victory over the Jets last Thursday.

Speaking to the media after practice, Barkley shrugged off his role as a non-participant. He is getting a lot of work every day in practice.

And if last season is any indication, the second pick overall is going to be hit around 400 times this season. He carried the ball 261 times for 1,307 yards and was targeted for passes 121 times, catching 91.

Still, Barkley would not object to playing in the preseason.

Barkley spoke to Shurmur after being told he was not going to play in the opener and was told there is a plan. Neither he nor Shurmur discussed it.

“I’ll let it reveal itself,” Shurmur said.

Brown loses helmet beef

Raiders receiver Antonio Brown has lost his grievance with the NFL over his use of an old helmet that is no longer certified as safe to use for practice or play.

The arbitrator issued the ruling after holding a hearing last week with Brown, representatives from the league and the players’ union.

“While I disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field,” Brown, a former Central Michigan star, said in a statement on Twitter.

“I’m excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet.”

Brown has not participated in a full practice for the Raiders after starting training camp on the non-football injury list with injuries to his feet that reportedly came from frostbite suffered while getting cryotherapy treatment in France.

Extra points

Browns defensive end Chad Thomas suffered a sprained neck but avoided a more serious injury during a scary moment at training camp.

... Raiders cornerback Nevin Lawson, a former Lion, has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

... The Patriots acquired tight end Eric Saubert from the Falcons for a conditional draft pick.

... Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is working on lease extensions with the Saints designed to keep the team in the Superdome for up to 30 additional years.