Dear Richard …

In response to Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's essay about how he'd run things as commissioner, NFL executive Troy Vincent sticks up for his employer and points out how the league is addressing Sherman's concerns

(Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports :: Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports :: Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

By Troy Vincent

As a 15-year NFL veteran, former president of the NFL Players Association and now NFL Senior Vice President of Player Engagement who oversees player benefits, I would like to respond to Seattle’s Richard Sherman—who penned ‘Welcome To My League’ in this space last week—to give the fans a peek into a conversation between members of the NFL family. 

NEW YORK — Richard, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion you put into your essay about how you would change things as NFL commissioner. Your ideas give us an opportunity to discuss player benefits, fines, safety and transition, and to educate players and fans on these issues. I encourage you to continue to be a voice; to have dialogue; and to share your personal responsibility and accountability in making all of us better for the sport we love.

NFL Player Engagement assists players and their families in reaching their highest potential on and off the field with guidance, support, and resources provided before, during, and after their NFL experience. We stress a peer-to-peer model. That means, wherever possible, players interacting with players.

Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Dwight Hollier directs our mental health and Total Wellness initiatives. Former NFL receiver James Thrash oversees our Transition Assistance Program. Super Bowl champion receiver David Tyree serves in player support, specializing in player services and benefits. We also have 150 former players assisting us as Ambassadors, Transition Coaches and Legends directors and coordinators.

Our player benefits and Legends program (outreach to former players) is supervised by former NFL Pro Bowl player Patrick Kerney, vice president of player benefits and legends operations. We continue to streamline processes to provide better access to benefits and programs for those who made this league what it is today. In the past 12 months, for example, the NFL has paid out $65 million in disability benefits to former players.

But like in a football game, we can only control what we can control. Issues often are like the rules of the game. We have to line up and play by them. Some areas you mentioned are those where the commissioner is bound by what is negotiated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Players Association.

For example, you recommended leaving the system for on-field discipline to former players and coaches. Former player Merton Hanks, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, determines discipline for on-field player violations. Appeals are heard and decided by former NFL coach Ted Cottrell or former NFL player Matt Birk, the appeals officers appointed jointly by the NFL and NFL Players Association in accordance with the CBA.

No player should intentionally try to harm another player, but rules affecting player safety are overseen by the league’s Competition Committee, which includes coaches and extensive dialogue with players through the NFLPA. To your point, the “strike zone” is an ongoing discussion both privately and publicly.

Another good idea you expressed is that fines for helmet-to-helmet hits be directed to players suffering from head trauma. Also per the CBA, all on-field player fines collected by the league are donated through the NFL Foundation to assist former players in need via the NFL Player Care Foundation and the NFLPA’s Player Assistance Trust. The Player Care Foundation’s “88 Plan” provides financial support to former players suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

We agree that player compensation for the playoffs should include a fair share of playoff revenue. This also is determined by the CBA, not the commissioner. The money available in player contract negotiations includes post-season revenue. In addition, players in the playoffs receive additional compensation. For a division champion with a first-round bye that wins the Super Bowl this season, each player will receive an additional $157,000 for his post-season play.

We defensive backs are a fiery, passionate bunch, often put on an island by ourselves to survive with each play. We don’t waste movement nor mince words, and it’s good that we can value one another’s opinions, as I do yours. It’s also important that we get the straight scoop. This is how we get better. It’s how we improve the game. Let’s find a way to keep the dialogue going because through it we educate one another and fans about the past, present and future of our game.

32 comments
djp9
djp9

gobears51 I don't know if you recall Vincent as a player but he presently had played about 3 times as long as Sherman and if you read both essay's (which they BOTH are) you can see it contains point - counterpoint. Sherman raised issues he would change AS COMMISSIONER but he failed to specify WHAT he can do as commissioner. 

The NFL is not a dictatorship, is it a collectively bargained arrangement with a union, the NFLPA of which Richard is a member. Now if he stated that this is what I would change if I was in charge of the NFL and the NFLPA, that would be different. This isn't tongue-in-cheek by Sherman either, he loves to joke around from what I've seen but this wasn't a humor piece. So Troy simply states that Richard's assertions aren't under the control of the Commissioner but were bargained for under the CBA. So why doesn't he say this is how I'd change the CBA? No its easier and makes for better reading to drop it on the guy who is the face of the owners. Any CBA is a give and take, the NFLPA wasn't jobbed in this negotiation. 

As noted by Troy the playoff pool is negotiated in the CBA and a portion of playoff revenue is actually allocated to the Regular Season Salary Cap that everyone shares in.  Do you think Richard could get the rest of the players to sign off on reducing the Regular Season Salary Cap to increase the playoff pool? I doubt it. The reason being that for an individual player making the playoffs can be a crap shoot on a year to year basis ie. who though the Texans wouldn't be in this year?

Sherman knows how to illicit a response and he either did that purposely with his 'essay' or he was simply lazy in not doing his homework on what is in the CBA that he and his union agreed to and what is within the jurisdiction of the commissioner.

gobears51
gobears51

Wow. Why did Mr. Vincent even respond? Like most people, I read MMQB.si.com to get interesting OPINIONS from Peter King and his staff. Richard's essays are opinions from a current player about his thoughts on current events in the NFL. Mr. Vincent's response leave me feeling like he took this essay personally.  His response [Mr. Vincent] reeks of NFL front office B.S. He repeatedly hides behind the CBA, which came from months of negotiations, so you know a lot of the issues bought up by Mr. Sherman where likely  discussed and through out by the NFL and it's owners. Yet, Mr. Vincent tries to use it as an arguing point, as if  the CBA was created by the players and it is their fault that the CBA lacks in addressing major policy changes. Changes that the NFLPA actually fought and tried to have altered. And on play-off money. I feel that Mr. Vincent disrespected every single reader of this essay by saying the $157,000 in bonus pay if fair compensation for a Superbowl winner.  4 games and all you get is $157,000 and a ring for your efforts. C'mon man. All the money the playoffs and Superbowl generates, and fair compensation is only $157,000. You can be in the final year of your rookie contract, tear your ACL in the Superbowl and end up losing millions in a new contract for that $157,000. 

Octavio
Octavio

Sherman makes some valid points, as does Vincent.  Clearly, the only way this matter will be resolved is through a dance off.

credroc
credroc

Troy Vincent, Troll So Hard University '13

YourJudgeandJury
YourJudgeandJury

So a player can go through a wild card game, division game, conference game and the super bowl for $157,000.  That's $39,250 a game.  True, I'd like to have that kind of money but with the revenue coming in for the playoffs, the players are getting cheated...especially what is being charged for the tickets and TV spots.

hr334466
hr334466

oh and 157k for winning the sb including the 2 games prior is 52k per game.  all totaled, you cannot buy a 10 sec tv spot with that money.  wow, I am so sorry you turned out like this man, I am really disappointed.

hr334466
hr334466

lol, yo, Troy,  you have sold out.  How can you be a player union pres and then flip sides.  you are only looking out for  yourself.  Everyone knows what you did during the lockout.  You are a piece of crap. OH and I am sure Sherm knows what peer to peer counseling is you condescending, arrogant sell out.

John4
John4

Troy Vincent - The NFL HAS to put an immediate stop to helmet to helmet hits (which are absolutely intentional and certainly a dirty play) by penalizing the play and by suspending the offenders for a game.  Why hasn't that been done, and WHY are helmet to helmet hits allowed?  Why ARE players allowed to lead with the crown of the helmet?  It's just a dirty play and should be penalized out of the game.  It wouldn't be difficult to do, it's just that the NFL does NOTHING about it.  

fuama
fuama

David Tyree, publicly self-identified as homophobic, is working in Player Support for the NFL? And they wonder why the NFL doesn't have a single player out of the closet. In any other organization on the planet, Tyree would have been immediately nixed as a candidate for that kind of position. Good job at faking like you care, NFL.

DDE1957
DDE1957

Mid-season, I doubt Richard spent much time researching any great depth for his article.  Clearly that is not his top priority right now. It did open good dialog and I enjoyed reading Mr. Vincent's response. Its good to see so many former players involved in programs focused to help players make the transition and such that simply were not there a few years ago. The tenor of Troy's response was fitting as he represented well. Let's keep the dialog going.

Matt72
Matt72

Fantastic point counter point.  One thing I would argue Vincent about.  the "CBA" being a hinderence in alot of these things is pretty week.  The Owners have the players over a barrel and they know it.  The average nfl career only lasts 3 years,  the Players association doesn't have any leverage and the owners know it.  Now im a capitalist so I have no problem with the dollars and sense of it all but lets be real for a moment Goodell on behalf of the owners.... WROTE the CBA.....

JPG
JPG

Richard Sherman won this round just by getting a thought provoking response from a higher up.  When Mr. Sherman speaks people listen.

Paul Sousa
Paul Sousa

Good point counterpoint by Troy Vincent 

Tommy K
Tommy K

Richard, you mad bro?

TheMantage
TheMantage

Daaaaamn Richard. You got served.

life_is_a_sport
life_is_a_sport

This was my problem with Richard Sherman's editorial. It was completely unsupported and Sherman clearly did no research; basically, it was just Sherman spouting his own opinions and trying to settle grudges. Now, I think the NFL is full of it on a million issues but seriously, all of Sherman's ideas were already implemented. Sherman could have said the NFL administration should be elected by players or something on that nature but instead, just offered simplistic ideas without any real depth.

modonnellca
modonnellca

This is the type of dialogue that will make this website a must read for fans.  Great discussion and keep it going.  A peek at the inner workings of the athletes and management's thoughts.   Great stuff.

ColinProctor
ColinProctor

I appreciate the fact that this dialogue can exist. It gives credence to players having this kind of a platform, and is refreshing for fans. Bravo, keep the conversation going. 

PAMLANTA
PAMLANTA

I am sure that Richard has great ideas . However a smart guy like Richard must have read Animal Farm. He wants a co-op type NFL where the players are the owners, right? Let's see how that would work. Most owners made their money elsewhere and the NFL is an investment vehicle. I wish him the best. Save your money,  Richard and buy a team. Capitalism was never about benevolence; it is about money. Richard, are you worth your 5 or 10 million a year? What about the teachers and coaches who taught you? As a group, would you pay them 5-10 million a year, if let's say there were really 20 good ones?

RickLawson
RickLawson

Great stuff but Sherman is right, Goodell has too much power over player discipline.

BrianBecker
BrianBecker

Richard Sherman wrote a great piece...this was a fair response.  Fans love this kind of dialogue.  Bravo MMQB.

Iowa
Iowa

@YourJudgeandJury It's the contract the players negotiated. If they don't like it, do something about it the next time at collective bargaining. They have zero to complain about.

jeremy2020
jeremy2020

@John4 because the players piss and moan about the NFL taking steps to reduce head injuries...until someone gets hurt when they piss moan that they aren't doing enough.

Iowa
Iowa

@fuama David Tyree is not a homophobe, he merely does not support the idea of 'gay marriage.' There is a difference, people can disagree with something without hating people, the fact you apparently don't understand this makes you sound as misinformed as Sherman did.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@Matt72 ....Just like most of the rules governing finances, banking, and investments were written BY BANKS, FOR BANKS.  (Read up on the Federal Reserve Act)

John4
John4

@Tommy K Tommy K - you making idiotic comments, bro?

Zeshan
Zeshan

@Tommy K OK, I'm a 'Hawks fan and that $#!t was still funny.

KevinHand
KevinHand

I regret to inform you, PAMLANTA, that Richard Sherman makes a base salary 10-20 times less than your $5-$10 million annual figure that was obviously plucked out of thin air like one Matt Ryan's dead falcons.

MattdingoMorganScheer
MattdingoMorganScheer

@PAMLANTA Why didn't you read Sherman's article before you commented?  Your premise of money and a "co-op style NFL" being his motivation couldn't be further from the truth."  He's asking for a democracy.  He wants fines decided by committee.  He's asking for players to have some say in their own safety...which makes sense considering they're the ones who have to deal with the consequences later in life.....I was gonna keep going but this is easier.  http://mmqb.si.com/2013/11/06/richard-sherman-if-i-was-commissioner/  Just read it, every single point is valid no matter what your opinion of sherman is.

EP1
EP1

@RickLawson I don't really care who has control over player discipline. They can make it whoever they want. It just happens to be Goodell. I have a question though... why do we the fans care if Goodell decided the punishment? If someone does something wrong... why shouldn't he have the power, as an employer, to decide the punishment? which by the way was agreed on in the CBA. Of course the players dont want him to make the decisions... he is making it against them!!! To suggest that the players police themselves is akin to saying the employee's should decide punishment not the boss or the students should decide the punishment not the principal (again acting on school standards agreed upon by a board) or prisoners should decide a punishment not a warden. 

To add to that... even though I know there are a few that give the many a bad name... but in my opinion many of the NFL players or more like the students and or prisoners and less like employees. Dont get me wrong, it is stupid that Brandon Marshal and Marshawn Lynch were fined even though wearing the shoes that they wore raised money for charity. Common sense should prevail. But... when players consistently cheat (PHD), lie (Vick, although even I have to admit he is a different person now), break the law (too many examples) and in some minor instances just break rules and ethics of the game (meriweather and or suh). 

And to point out the Vick and the Rothlisberger situations. Goodell was blasted about the lengthy punishments he gave both of those men for their transgressions. I think we can all agree that Vick (and trust me, I am a dog lover and despised Vick and didnt think he deserved anything) is a different person and quite honestly a good player, teammate, leader etc. Rothlisberger did his things and after being punished by Goodell has now gone on to being married, not going to college bars. Basically he grew up. Could we say either of those two examples of would have had the same outcomes if players decided the punishment?


mofycbsj
mofycbsj

@Iowa @fuama  I'm not racist. I merely do not support the idea of 'interracial marriage.'

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