Houston Texans’ Eric Winston: “The Stay Being Granted Isn’t Good For the Players, But We’re Still Holding Out Hope”

May 18, 2011 – 10:10 am by Eric Schmoldt

There is really no dancing around the subject. Even the NFL players mired in the lockout know that the fact that the stay was granted earlier this week doesn’t bode well for them. But they aren’t giving up hope, at least according to Houston Texans offensive lineman Eric Winston.

Winston admits this hasn’t been a good week for them, but still hopes that the 8th Circuit will keep the original opinion that briefly lifted the lockout. In other words, he still believes the players can win this battle, though it’s becoming murkier by the day as to what exactly “winning” would mean.

Winston is quick to point out that, while technically the players have never “won” in an NFL labor dispute, that their working conditions have steadily improved. He says the players win if nothing changes in terms of the revenue sharing, but obviously that’s not the only issue we’re dealing with here.

Eric Winston joined KILT in Houston to discuss what this week’s legal decision meant, how the players are dealing with it, if it bothers him that the owners have always seemed to win these disputes, how he would judge a win or a loss at this point, the change in the public perception of the whole situation and the stigma of gay athletes.

What does this week’s court decision regarding the lockout mean for players?:

“It’s not good for the players. That’s something that, if we wanted football immediately, we could’ve got it and we didn’t. … We could’ve been on the field probably within the next two days if that stay wasn’t granted. Now, I think for the long-term view, you’ve got to hope that the stay isn’t part of the overall 8th Circuit’s view of the appeal. You’ve got to hope that they were just basing it on the merit’s of the staying going. … We’re still holding out hope that the 8th Circuit will keep the opinion of Judge Nelson … and not overturn it.”

What does he think the players resolve will be going forward?:

“We’ll see. A lot of people try to compare it to other labor disputes. I know this, is that there’s never been a point in time where players have access to more information, know more about what’s going on and understand the process better than they do now.”

Does it bother him that the owners always seem to win?:

“Yes and no. If we’ve never won, then why have we continually always improved our healthcare? Why are we always continually improving what we’ve got as far as compensation. You can say that the players have never won, but if we’ve never won, why aren’t we paying for our helmets then? … Sometimes it’s other things that kind of keep moving the ball down the field.”

How would he judge a win or a loss for the players in this particular case?:

“I think we’ve always come in saying we don’t want anything more. … We’re happy with what we’ve got. We feel like 50-50 of all revenue is a pretty fair split in the job description and the sport we have. … Any way we can kind of keep that stick right there where it’s at is some sort of win. Obviously we’ve got to keep working on health issues.”

Does he feel like public opinion has turned on the players?:

“I don’t get any more of that, I just think people are mad at everything right now. They don’t want to hear it from either side; they’re tired of it. … The fans have a right to do whatever they want. If they want to prove their displeasure by going out and booing Goodell at the NFL Draft, then I think they should. If they have a displeasure about this by not showing up to some of the games, then that’s their right. If they want the ownership to know they’re upset about it by not renewing their season tickets, then I think they should probably do that, too. I think some fans, and I understand why, they feel helpless.”

On the stigma of gay athletes:

“There’s a lot of people that haven’t got over the fact that 7 percent of people are gay in this country, or something like that. … I think some [players] could [deal with it]. I definitely think some could. But I think some couldn’t, and I definitely think that some coaches would view that as unacceptable.”

Listen to Eric Winston on KILT in Houston here

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