Answer My Question, Commish!

The marijuana crisis, future cold-weather Super Bowls and a question about health care for life sadly dodged: Here are 10 things 49ers tight end Vernon Davis thinks in response to Roger Goodell's State of the NFL address

By Vernon Davis

1. My question. I came to the State of the NFL address to ask Roger Goodell this: “We play America’s most dangerous and most lucrative game, yet players have to jump through hoops for health benefits. Why doesn’t the NFL offer health care for life, especially for those suffering from brain injuries?” Goodell said there were discussions about that in the bargaining process, and that the current benefits are the best in the world. He added, “We all still have a lot of work to do for former players.” That I can agree with.

Otherwise, I think the commissioner danced around the question, and could’ve elaborated more. It sounded like he was saying the lack of lifetime health care is not his responsibility, and he pointed to the CBA we all agreed to. My problem is this: The owners shouldn’t be fighting against providing health care for life. Some of us are millionaires, but most are not, and everyone comes out of this game damaged in this way. The NFL should be hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Without us, the NFL is nothing.

2. A wasted opportunity. To those of my fellow reporters who asked goofy questions of Goodell—shame on you. Was it essential to know if the commissioner is tested for marijuana, given all of the serious issues facing the league in 2014?

3. Future cold-weather Super Bowls. Commissioner Goodell said it was imperative that we play Super Bowls in different cities, and the game isn’t about the weather, but the play on the field. This is a mixed bag. I think it’s important to play in different communities around the country in order to create job opportunities in new cities, but there are a few places I wouldn’t want to see a Super Bowl played in. New York is fine, because it’s New York, but nobody wants to play in or attend a February game in Green Bay, Buffalo, Minnesota or Detroit, dome or not.

4. Bad for the NFL’s image. Goodell was asked to address the medicinal benefits of marijuana, with Washington and Colorado—states with NFL teams—having legalized the drug. He stressed that testing will remain the same going forward, and it will still be a punishable offense to test positive for marijuana for the foreseeable future. I’m with the commissioner on this one. As a pro athlete and someone who’s well-respected nationally and looked up to, I think smoking marijuana is a bad example to set. You’d see 12-year-olds smoking marijuana because they saw players do it. For the same reason I can’t appear in an ad for a liquor brand, players shouldn’t be allowed to smoke. It’s about the image.

5. Unionize! Asked what he thought of a college players union and how it would affect the NFL, the commissioner pled ignorance on the topic. As a former college athlete, I’m supportive of any effort that allows players to cash in on their amateur status within the rules. If a video game company wants to use the likeness of a student athlete, that player should receive a stipend. A lot of young men who are on full scholarships come from low-income homes and struggle the way I did, despite my Pell grant. Some form of compensation would be a deterrent to breaking the rules.

6. A successful Super Bowl. The commissioner discussed why the New York Super Bowl is working out so well. He cited the city’s preparedness, in safety measures and otherwise. It’s not over yet, but I have to agree this has been a fantastic experience. Still, I’d caution people against a false sense of security. Every city is vulnerable, and especially New York during this week. You can’t control people; they’re going to do what they want to do regardless.

7. Why concussions have gone down. I agreed with Goodell’s take on why concussions have declined, and I’m happy with the progress being made. Changes to the rules, better equipment and greater awareness have all contributed to less highlight-reel knockouts. Guys who are known as hard hitters, like Dashon Goldson, are getting penalized and suspended because of helmet-to-helmet hits. Now guys like him are scared. Mission accomplished.

8. More questions for Goodell. If I had the opportunity, I’d ask Goodell why he isn’t enforcing the uniform policy and requiring players to wear un-tampered pads for our own benefit. I’d also ask him about the NFL’s engagement program, which is in place to help players plan for and transition to post-NFL life, and its failure to minimize the number of players who go broke after playing football. Some of us need leadership in a lot of ways, and we’re not getting it from the league.

9. My take on a franchise in L.A. The St. Louis media asked Goodell about the possibility of their team moving to Los Angeles, and he danced around the question. From a player perspective, I’d caution a struggling franchise against relocating to Los Angeles. Much like in Miami, younger players would struggle with temptation and distractions.

10. Sorry! But next year I don’t plan on rejoining you all for the State of the Union. We’ll be at the team hotel that day, getting ready to play.

mmqb-end-slug-square

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73 comments
jeremy2020
jeremy2020

The NFLPA had every opportunity to make healthcare an issue. How come the NFLPA didn't think it was such an important issue until after they signed the CBA?

miketjr75
miketjr75

Vernon, your a great football player but stay away from the columns...your take on marijuana was beyond being a joke!

MarkCalasade
MarkCalasade

Healthcare for life? What, Davis, you think Goodell is Obama? Both are idiots. As are you. You're millionaires competing with billionaires over who pays what. Anyone who is in the NFL for long makes more money than most people will in a lifetime. How about players take responsibility for themselves and put away most of the money they make rather than lavishly wasting it, then crying how the NFL never took care of them, what was the person's job. Anyone who plays football knows the risks. They play because they thought the risks would be worth the reward. When life proves them wrong, they start whining. Me, I'm sick of the whining. People want a better life?


Then they should work for it and stop blaming others for whatever unfortunate spot in which they find themselves. When I was homeless I held only one person accountable:


Me.

Mark112
Mark112

Get your G.E.D. first Vernon, then STFU!

jbummr50
jbummr50

"College" players can unionize once they form a "D-League," or colleges out and out PAY the athletes as EMPLOYEES.


Until then NO UNION.


Stop pretending.


Offer the education to those who want it, and stop forcing the kids that don't to attend classes.


It devalues the REAL students who worked hard, are paying out the a**, and faced much more scrupulous academic prerequisites.



PritchBomb
PritchBomb

Health care for life? OK, No problem. To pay for it, we're going to cap salaries at 100k per season and make you work year-round like everybody else. These guys are so out of touch it's sickening. 

MrArlington
MrArlington

He needs to learn to not bite the hand that feeds him. Although the NFL has flaws from an organizational perspective, so do almost all employers. If it wasn't for sports it is possible that Davis would be cleaning toilets for a living. If your disdain for the league is so great then just vote with your feet.

cdemcopeland
cdemcopeland

F-you, Vernon. We don't want you to ever play in our town of Minneapolis, or (and I'm sure they will agree) Green Bay, Detroit or Buffalo, dome or not. 


You're a coddled piece of work. Stay in Caly, we don't need or want you here.

CBSwriter
CBSwriter

I don't understand why the NFL can't just make it real simple for them and every player coming into the league. It should be mandatory that at the signing of their contract to play for an NFL team, when they first come into the league, that they read and sign a document that basically states "by signing this doc. you acknowledge that you understand the inherit dangers in playing in the NFL and release the NFL of all liability in those dangers whereas the NFL is not forcing anyone to play this game, it is your choice and you must understand the inherit risks that come with playing a game as physical as football; whereas the NFL will continue to make the game as safe as possible by monitoring the play according to its guidelines and providing the most advanced equipment on the market to protect players."


That wouldn't be that difficult and would eliminate not only all the lawsuits now coming the NFL's way but this entire discussion. Afterall, the NFL is an AT WILL EMPLOYMENT COMPANY. Nobody is putting a gun to these players' heads and forcing them to play football. It's their choice. They all know what they are getting themselves into. It's like an olympic downhill skier like Lindsey Vonn asking the Mountain she skis at to pay for her medical bills because she got out of control and busted her knee up. Or Sonny Bono's family suing a ski resort because he hit a tree and died. Give me a break! He decided to go skiing. He decided to ski non-groomed terrain, etc. and etc. 


Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't been done. And really, I have no sympathy for players who want to whine about injuries and health care.

selly8201
selly8201

If players don't want to play games in cold weather, why are cities/states spending so much to build new stadiums.  Football is meant to be played in all types of weather, especially the cold.  If you can handle it,  retire.

Kingfink1
Kingfink1

I wish more athletes would appreciate the gift they've been given. Davis complains about not having full health care coverage... Really? You make millions of dollars every year and you don't think that perhaps some of that is compensation for the fact that you play a brutal game? Also, as for college athletes getting money, that's ridiculous. I'm in college, thankfully I have family who have done well and I don't have to take out student loans to get through. He says "some form of compensation would be a deterrent to breaking the rules." First, how so? Giving people more money doesn't keep them out of trouble. And second, far more importantly, is a FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION not "compensation" enough?! He's right that many athletes come from rough backgrounds, but many people in their situations, athletes or otherwise, never get a gift wrapped golden opportunity to make a better life for themselves. 


Do athletes not appreciate that the money that pays them through college comes from the tuition of other students and from regular, completely unrelated, uninterested tax-payers? Perhaps, if you really think you need compensation, you should use that blessing, that opportunity, to get a real degree so you have something to fall back on after football. Do athletes not realize that the reason that they don't get to profit from their own image in college is because it's the college that puts them in that position in the first place? Plus, if you're good enough to make that kind of revenue in college, chances are you'll do it when you get to the pros. What about the walk on that never played a meaningful snap his whole career? What about non-revenue sports? Where do you draw that line? Should be be paying women's track and field athletes even though their programs already lose millions of those aforementioned tax-payer dollars every year? 


Sorry, that one just upsets me a little.

brucem
brucem

1. The NFL doesn't offer health care for life for the same reason most companies don't. Too expensive and your health isn't their responsibility.

2. Agreed.

3. Private thoughts and public thoughts, Vernon. You won't hear the end of this one very soon.

4. Your connections are weak.

5. See 4 above.

6. Agreed.

7. Again, careful of your assumptions. You can't say concussions have gone down. All you can accurately say is that what has gone down is the number of concussions reported.

8. Would have liked to read more about "un-tampered pads for our own benefit." Would have been interesting to read specific examples.

9. See 3 above. 

10. Yeah, a previous poster said it best: SI meant the 9 things Vernon thinks.


Overall, interesting writing, though he needs more clarification and detail. I would like to read more of his commentary on the NFL.

skin-pig
skin-pig

Speaking of a wasted opportunity... what kind of drivel in this? Players shouldn't use marijuana behind closed doors because it sets a bad example for kids? For many the alternative pharmaceuticals. Is that a more appropriate solution to teach the kids about. Two states have legalized, but the NFL needs to be the moral compass for society. And is L.A. more of a temple of temptation than San Francisco, Vern? Well thought out argument, meathead. 

BMCBikes
BMCBikes

I have absolutely no compassion for people who've been paid millions of dollars going broke or not having health care. THEY chose to spend the money on cars, houses, bling, and night clubbing, instead of saving and paying for health care. THEY cbose to 'work' in the NFL. They want ot be treated like men, then act like adult men and be responsible for your own choices and managing the available options. The NFL owes them nothing but a paycheck and the things bargained in the contract.

gary7
gary7

But next year I don’t plan on rejoining you all for the State of the Union. We’ll be at the team hotel that day, getting ready to play."......No you want and I hope your not on here again....only reason I read this dribble was to kill time while I ate a sandwich, there's that Maryland Education at it's best

torsacis
torsacis

1. Singletary deserves a lot of credit for the great representative of professional football that this guy has become.

2. Can MMQB please hire him rather than Richard Sherman if they want a considered, rational opinion from the players' perspective!

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18


Here are 10 things 49ers tight end Vernon Davis thinks in response to Roger Goodell's State of the NFL address.
And here was #10... 10. Sorry! But next year I don’t plan on rejoining you all for the State of the Union. We’ll be at the team hotel that day, getting ready to play.
Guess that was 9 things he thought about in response to Goodell's state of the NFL address.

Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

Many pro athletes do seem to go broke much sooner than they should.  That, however, is easily solvable by hiring a financial adviser, or a manager.  It wouldn't even have to be a full time thing, just someone from whom a player can seek counsel when necessary.  They can't expect the league to provide that for them, especially when such a large number of players want to be able to live their own way. Being responsible for one's own finances is part of being an adult.

BenMansfield
BenMansfield

not as long as you have kaepernick as your QB, he said he would throw that pass everytime....


as a person who really doesn't like the niners, I was very happy to read that


pride of JA, union stooge and lefty, no one owes you healthcare.... get a skill and find a job which provides that as part of the financial package they think fits your level of value to the company....


the money from sports puts MANY non athletes and athletes in sports which do not create income educational chances, and what is a 4 year degree at the school Vernon went to worth....


please...

PrideofJA
PrideofJA

I respect V. Davis's opinion but I find myself only agreeing with him onthe college player's union and healthcare for life.  The U.S. is wealthy enough for universal healthcare, so NFL players shouldn't be the only ones with this quality of life benefit.  Too bad Obama's administration didn't have the stomach to power thru a single payer system and rip windfall profits from the HMOs and drug companies.


And college players definitely need to unionize.  These kids are getting smarter every generation and see the plantation system, a/k/a "amateurism" for what it is.  Athletic scholarships aren't even full rides and are not guaranteed for four years--surprising how many people don't know that.  Meanwhile, you're standing on a practice field with a coach who's raking in millions, assistant coaches making six-figures, and handled by an institution desperate to control every aspect of your lives in ways that non-athlete scholarship students don't have to submit to--and those non-athlete scholars DON'T MAKE THE SCHOOL ANY MONEY.  Sick world we live and lie in.

scottpannier
scottpannier

I applaud Vernon Davis for being present at this event. He seems like a pretty well-spoken athlete. It's much than sticking a microphone in front of Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch. How in the world did that guy graduate from Cal? 

stansburyj
stansburyj

Thanks for your thoughts Vernon. However, "Mission accomplished." is far from true. It will be mission accomplished when there are no more concussions in the NFL. How many guys had to go out of the game in the playoffs this year because of head injuries? That doesn't sound like mission accomplished to me. A neurologist that has worked with the NFL Concussion Committee said he believes there will not be any NFL within 15 years. 

James22
James22

Sigh. Simple math. Healthcare for life for every player who ever gets a cup of coffee in the league costs more than even the NFL has.

JamesJoyce
JamesJoyce

Maybe he should have replied that one would hope that multi-millionaires could plan for their own health care

JohnWil25090081
JohnWil25090081

@MrArlington  not bite the hand that feeds him, yes massah...stay in your place Davis, don't be getting all uppity or MrArlington will have you cleaning toilets...

Republic
Republic

@MrArlington  Cleaning toilets for a living? Just because that may be what you do, doesn't mean Vernon's options were limited to NFL player or janitor. 

cdemcopeland
cdemcopeland

And another thing - healthcare for life? Please. Be a man and pay for your own d*mn healthcare. Oh wait - I keep forgetting the rules don't apply to children or half-men like you. You feel that you should be entitled, eh? Already making millions and you want more? Please. You are the 1% that make me absolutely sick.


We pay for healthcare out of our own pocket each paycheck - perhaps you could do the same? Say maybe $500k should set you up for life? Is that too hard to do?


Oh wait, you'd rather spend it on cars, girls, Vegas or opulent homes...you want healthcare for life?


Grow up or man up and take care of your own business.

Golf1
Golf1

@Kingfink1  Nailed it G...that was very well said...especially the question you posed "Do athletes not realize that the reason that they don't get to profit from their own image in college is because it's the college that puts them in that position in the first place? " 

runaway06
runaway06

@skin-pig This was an opinion piece. I disagree with his LA and marijuana views, but those are his opinions.

runaway06
runaway06

@BMCBikes dude....90% of the people that are suing and need healthcare were not making millions.

aquaursa
aquaursa

@gary7  Maryland education: improper use of "your" and "it's".  Also, the word you were looking for is "drivel".  "Dribble" is what runs down your chin as you work to compose silly posts.


MyDogWally
MyDogWally

@torsacis  I think Sherman's opinions are both considered AND rational; I also think his writing is a hell of a lot more interesting than Davis's.  I've got nothing against Davis -- I think he's a good guy and an excellent football player.  But when it comes to writing, he doesn't hold a candle to Sherman.  That's why Sherman, not Davis, is writing for MMQB.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Boogieman1281  The NFLPA does have a Transition Program, with mentors like Brian Westbrook, that work with players to give the practical advice not on managing their money per se but about connecting with good people who are looking out for the players financial future.  This isn't and shouldn't be a League issue, like healthcare it's up to the NFLPA to take care of their own.  

PrideofJA
PrideofJA

@Boogieman1281 I agree with you in principle but the problem is that the reality doesn't work out that way for the top prospects.  College and professional recruiting networks begin identifying top talent as far down as middle school (thru camps and other networks).  They coddling and undue influence begins almost before puberty.  The result is many show up in the professional ranks wholly unprepared by life for what they don't know or understand.  The system is geared for exploitation, not education. 


The athletes that generally fair better are the ones who've had fathers or older relatives who played pro sports before them or who come from more well educated backgrounds (e.g., Grant Hill).

SportPage
SportPage

@BenMansfield Kaepernick would throw that pass every time, he saw a window and if the pass had another foot of air, Crabtree would have been the only player that could have gotten a hand on the ball and likely would have caught it.


Unfortunately for Kaepernick, he underthrew it slightly and Sherman made a fantastic play on it, and the trailing LB was in the right place.


So Kaepernick should throw that pass, but next time make sure that he puts it where only Crabtree can make the play.

qt3dot14
qt3dot14

@PrideofJA

you need to wake up.  the us is not wealthy enough for universal health care.  obama has DOUBLED the national debt in less than 6 years, and thats before obamacare took effect.

i know most people simply wont understand what im about to say but this is how it works:  since world war II world trade has been base on the us dollar.  every time money was converted from country to country on imported purchases the basis of those trades has ALL been on the US dollar.  


This has given the united states the ability to literally print money.  this is money that is not backed by anything except the fact that every trade had to us us dollars.  so basically weve just printed debt.  in just the next few years our interest payment to china will be more than the entire cost of their expanding military.

we are literally paying china via interest payment alone to build a military large enough to destroy our country.


and countries all around the world are implementing non-us dollar based trade between themselves. they are circumventing our printing press of debt.  only a small part of the needs to avoid the us dollar-based trade and inflation in this county is going to skyrocket.


just like the housing/banking crisis of 2008 which was easily foreseeable, the currency crisis is a 100% guarantee.  the difference is that the currency crisis will affect every part of our economy.  it will dwarf the crash of 2008. 



Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

@PrideofJA  Actually, science majors that get R&D grants can make their school millions, as well, of which they don't see a dime.

scottpannier
scottpannier

"much better than..." is what I meant to say. Oops!

BenMansfield
BenMansfield

@JamesJoyce james youre asking these players to be responsible and play a part in their own well being...

come on man...hes only made 25 million the last 4 years, hes definitely the one to lead this fight!



el-cid
el-cid

@cdemcopeland  Say you have a minimum guaranteed rookie salary of 350,000 (2011).  That's the lowest pay.  Let's call taxes 30%, leaving you with 245,000.  Compare that with the median per capita income after taxes in 2011 of about 29,092.  So you get cut after one year, but you've made almost 8.5 years salary for the average Joe.  Spend 145,000 on beer, invest 100,000 at a typical 7%, without adding another nickel you will have about 3,220 per month from 65-85.  Mr. median guy would have 384 bucks a month with the same percentage of his first year salary invested.  

OnTheRoad
OnTheRoad

@cdemcopeland  Along the same line, why is it the league's fault if you throw away your money and go broke after you retire??? Some of these players make millions and throw it away on keeping their so called friends happy, and then you say it is the league's fault??????

Tillman
Tillman

@runaway06 @BMCBikes  ......but they "are" paid well enough to pay for their "own" insurance.  I own my own business and also do not make millions (yet) but manage to take care of my rent, family and all basic necessities including healthcare.  

torsacis
torsacis

I agree his opinions are also considered and rational. I just don't buy his pseudo-apologetic stance after the NFC title game, and a bunch of his things he thinks he thinks if he was commissioner are wholly unrealistic. He's a great player, but he's no writer and a communications degree from Stanford is not going to sway me on this one.

BenMansfield
BenMansfield

@SportPage @BenMansfield he wasn't open for a second, but at the top of the formation he had a receiver wide open with 10 yards to run and Vernon davis in the area to block for him....


like I said, im glad to hear it


doesn't sound like learning from his mistakes...


aadaddy
aadaddy

@scottpannier  "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."

— ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

cdemcopeland
cdemcopeland

@OnTheRoad @cdemcopeland  Agree. Many of these players have less than kindergarten-level understanding of the responsibilities of being an adult. The money breeds entitlement and poor choices. 


Most of these yahoos make more money in a season or two than most Americans will make in a lifetime, yet it just isn't enough.


Please explain the math on that one for me...

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