Ravens vote unanimously to decertify players union

Notebook

Move would give players leverage to avert a potential lockout next season

September 24, 2010|By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens voted unanimously Friday to decertify the NFL Players Association, a move that could strengthen the union's negotiations with management over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The union is seeking leverage to avert a potential lockout by management for next season. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and regional director Tom Carter addressed players in the team's auditorium for about an hour after Friday's practice.

Smith declined to comment afterward, but Ravens player representative Chris Carr said the players were united in taking the decertification stance.

"Everybody was pretty much all together," Carr said. "Mostly, when we go to these meetings, there's not too much disappointment in management. Everybody's together, everybody's strong for the cause and believes in everything we're doing. It was an easy vote."

Carr said about 40 players attended the meeting because of late notice. "I think the whole team would have been there if we had a couple days' notice," he said.

The Ravens are the ninth NFL team to approve decertification.

As a union, the players cannot take management to court over the CBA. But decertified, they can sue. Although the vote doesn't necessarily mean the union will decertify, it gives the NFLPA that possibility.

"Nobody wants a lockout," Carr said, "so we're going to do everything to prevent it. That [decertification] could be one of those things that could [prevent it]."

Under then-executive director Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA decertified in 1989 before achieving a CBA that included free agency.

Boldin eyes milestone 600th

With two catches against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin would become the fastest player in NFL history to have 600 receptions. This will be his 97th career game. The receiver he would pass, Marvin Harrison, got his 600th in 102 games.

"It doesn't mean much at this point," Boldin said. "Probably when my career is over, it might mean something."

Boldin, 29, was the fastest to reach 500 career catches, in his 80th career game in 2008, as well as the fastest to reach 400, in his 67th game in 2007.

"For me, it just says that when I'm on the field, I produce," he said. "That's something I can take pride in, but as far as individual accolades at this point, I'm not big on them."

Boldin said he doesn't have any footballs from his milestone catches in his home. And No. 600, he said, will go to his mother.

"She usually gets them [encased]," he said. "She has my first game ball against Detroit my rookie year, and the other ones."

Gooden's season in limbo

A day after injured linebacker Tavares Gooden said he was waiting on a second opinion about his dislocated shoulder, coach John Harbaugh gave a timetable of how long the Ravens could wait before making a roster move.

"From what we understand now, I think he's going to be OK, but it's a process to see how it heals and how it comes along," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully, it's — like we said — two weeks, four weeks at the most. But if it's more than that, you'll know, because we'll have to make a move. But right now, we don't anticipate that."

Gooden will be replaced at the nickel linebacker position by Dannell Ellerbe, who started the last five games, including playoffs, in 2009.

End zone

Harbaugh said he expects that cornerback Josh Wilson will play more Sunday ("I would say he's really shined in practice the last week or so") and that cornerback Cary Williams, returning from a two-game suspension, will probably see action on special teams. … Harbaugh also indicated the Ravens might try to re-sign safety Ken Hamlin, who was cut this week to make roster space for Williams. … Offensive tackle Jared Gaither was declared out of Sunday's game with Gooden and wide-out Donte' Stallworth. Although Ellerbe (knee), wide-out Derrick Mason (knee) and fullback Le'Ron McClain (shoulder) had limited participation in practice Friday, they are listed as probable. … Browns guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) is out this week, and former Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (chest), wide receiver Brian Robiskie (hamstring) and quarterback Jake Delhomme (ankle) are doubtful. Among Cleveland's questionable players is linebacker Marcus Benard (ankle), who leads the Browns with 21/2 sacks. … The Ravens have elected center Matt Birk, Mason and Carr as player reps for 2011.

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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