By James Parks, AFL-CIO

In the words of sportscaster Al Michaels:  “Nothing like a labor statement to start a season.”

Last night, right after the national anthem at the kickoff of the NFL season, players for the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints came out on the field holding up their index fingers. But this was not the usual gridiron “We’re Number 1″ bravado. It was a statment by the players that off the field they “stand as one” in collective bargaining talks with the team owners.

Like workers everywhere, the members of the  NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are facing the possibility of being out of work if owners lock them out next season. So the players who push, block, tackle and generally rough each other up on the field are sending a message to fans and the owners that they will work together off the field to make sure they are treated fairly.


The players have set up a website to explain their position and to get out the facts about team owners’ revenue and their plans for a lockout. Check out 2011 Lockout Central here.

Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings defensive end and a player representative, talks about the importance of the players “standing as one” in an interview on the NFLPA site:

I think that’s the only way we’re going to accomplish what we want to accomplish. We have to be able to decide on something and stand as one on it because we are stronger accomplishing something that way than we are standing apart. Not everybody is on the same financial ground. Together, we can be strong and accomplish what we want to accomplish.

By the way, for those who didn’t see the game, the Super Bowl champion Saints won 14-9.