Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung, who attended the recent owners-players meetings in New York and is scheduled to attend the upcoming ones, is not pleased with the league’s efforts on social justice reform.
It’s even possible that Okung and other players could decide to skip next week’s meeting if their unhappiness with the league continues.
“I am disappointed that further progress has not been reached on discussions with the league,” Okung said Thursday. “NFL officials appear unmotivated and don’t share the same sense of urgency. Increasingly, the meetings appear unproductive at best and disingenuous at worst. Furthermore, the ongoing disparagement of Colin Kaepernick is a factor needing remedy for the players and public to feel heard and for real progress to be made.”
Okung was expecting more from the league.
“I thought there were concrete plans to help,” Okung said. “To my dismay, that wasn’t true at all. It’s only remained as just talking. There hasn’t been any action.
“It’s disappointing, because anytime the NFL says it cares about something, like breast cancer awareness, domestic violence, concussions, it comes out in force. So far we haven’t seen that.”
Okung acknowledged there have been attempts to promote individual players in the community, but he believes not enough has been done, and he said other players feel the same way.
They are encouraged by the talk, but so far discouraged with the results.
Representing the players at the last meeting were NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and president Eric Winston, former player Anquan Boldin and current players Darius Butler, Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas, Mark Herzlich, Kelvin Beachum, Demario Davis, Chris Long, Josh Norman and Okung.
Players were skeptical going into the first meeting with owners; the level of trust between owners and players has been low in recent years due to a variety of issues tied to the commissioner’s behavior and the collective bargaining agreement.
Some felt there was progress, but Okung said it has not been quick enough nor substantial enough, not yet anyway. And now it could impact the state of relations between the two sides, as well as attendance at next week’s owners-players meeting in New York.