Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson spent Sunday evening with his wife, Landyn, attending the annual Starkey Hearing Foundation event in St. Paul. Hutchinson, who serves as the Vikings player representative, was upbeat given that it appears the NFL lockout is nearing an end.
"I think there will be some good news coming out [Monday]," he said. Hutchinson also took some time to answer a few other questions about the NFL's labor situation.
Q. When would you vote on this matter?
A. "If there was something that was agreed upon in principle, I think you might see [something Monday] depending on the [executive committee]. They would vote [Monday] on it, and then they would bring it to us, and probably [player reps would vote Monday] if everything’s in a row.
Q. Are you also in charge of polling teammates on the final vote of all players?
A. "That’s the logistics they have to work out. That was the problem with the original proposal the other day, was they wanted us to be recertified [as a union] by Tuesday, which logistically, you’re not going to be able to get 1,900 guys to go sign cards in a couple days. We’ve got to figure out a compromise between … they obviously want the ink dry before we go back to work. We understand that, but you’ve got to give us a little bit of a realistic situation to work with. So, we’re trying to figure out a way to get guys in camp on time and then sign the cards when we get there and still hold the deal true."
Q. Is it weird to have this uncertainty so close to when you're going to report to training camp?
A. "I don’t think anybody is really surprised. Everybody knew it was going to come down to the wire. There were a lot of negotiations through the spring and the summer. But when it gets down to the last minute, then you’re going to see a lot of cramming."
Q. How taxing has this been for you as a player rep?
A. "The thing about it is it’s been a class-action lawsuit this whole time. There’s pretty much been a gag order on everything. So, the reps, even though we are the reps -- or the advocates now, without a union -- we haven’t been involved in the day-to-day talks. It’s been really the executive committee and DeMaurice [Smith, the executive director of the NFLPA] and the lawyers. It hasn’t really been open to discussion much, because it is a lawsuit and there’s a lot of things that can’t be discussed outside of court.
"So, it hasn’t been as taxing on the advocates, the 32 advocates on the team, as it has been on the executive committee and De. They’ve been literally eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing this settlement for five, six months now. It gets filtered to us through conference calls, what can be talked about. To be honest with you, it’s been a weird offseason, the longest I’ve ever had since really being in high school, I would say. I’m not going to say it’s all bad. I get to see my family a lot, spend a lot of time with the kids. But I know those guys on the executive committee have been really humping it to try to get this done.
Q. As a veteran, you had all that time off …
A. "Us old guys, we’ve been kind of pushing for this for a while anyway. In all seriousness, it’s been nice to have some time off. But to know that you’re going to have a deal that potentially could be set for the next decade and not have to worry about this is pretty nice.
Q. Do you think this is a good deal?
A. "Yeah. I think honestly, it’s a good give-and-take. I think there’s some things that they wanted to go more their way -- and when I say that, I mean the owners’ side. I think there’s some things that we made some pretty significant strides in player safety. We got the economics figured out. There’s a common language now. The economic side of it on our behalf is good. All around, I think it’s a good deal, and hopefully, we can just get it signed on the dotted line."