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For WNY native JC Tretter, educating fellow NFL players about CBA more important than ever

When it comes to the proposed collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, opinions vary among players around the league.

Many have used social media to express their views, which range from strong opposition to solid support.

Then, there is Batavia native and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, who is in his second year as the team's NFLPA representative. On Thursday, the former Akron Central and Cornell University football standout used his Twitter account to offer thoughtful and objective guidance to players throughout the league.

The last in a series of tweets from Tretter on the subject said, "Players: We are preparing to vote on a CBA that most of us will play under for the rest of our careers. Before you decide whether you're for or against it, please get informed. Read up on it, talk to your player director/rep, send me questions, etc. Get as much info as you can."

More than 2,000 members of the union are voting on the CBA, which is 439 pages, through March 12. A simple majority is required for ratification.

"My goal is solely just to try to educate as many guys on the issues and then let people make their decision for themselves," Tretter said by phone Friday. "Because I do think it is a truly important decision to make and it's one that will have long-term impact on each individual in this game, as well as the game itself. And I want each person to kind of make that decision based off what they feel is best for themselves and I don't want to push them 'yes,' I don't want to push them 'no.'"

There's a prevailing theory that veterans who don't like the deal, primarily because it calls for a 17th regular-season game, can afford to take that stance because they're in a much higher salary bracket than most members of the rank and file. Among those opposed are San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. They've been criticized for trying to dissuade younger players who could benefit greatly from the significant pay pump coming their way from the agreement.

Tretter said the additional regular-season game prompted him to cast a "no" vote when he and the rest of the NFLPA's player reps were polled on whether to put the CBA to a vote of the membership.

"My biggest concern is player safety and I didn't feel comfortable OK'ing more games for players and kind of signing the next generation of guys up for more football," Tretter said. "Not just for immediate injuries, but long-term things that every guy who's played this game will probably have to deal with at some point in their lives – joint replacements, other health issues that come with playing professional football for this long.

"This being my seventh year, I understand how hard it is to stay healthy; I've had my fair share of injuries. But now it goes down to players each making their own, individual decision, which will be good because it's something everybody has to kind of wrestle with."

There are other veterans, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick the most prominent among them, who have publicly revealed they are voting "yes" for the deal. He made the announcement in a video he sent to ESPN's Trey Wingo, who shared it on Twitter.

In another tweet, Tretter, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Green Bay Packers, addressed the addition of a 17th regular-season game and the corresponding subtraction of a preseason contest by saying: "The removal of a preseason game doesn't make up for the addition of a regular season game. Most guys who will be playing in that additional regular season game wouldn't have played in that removed four preseason game."

Tretter did cite areas in the CBA that benefit players.

He tweeted: "At a very high level, some of the gains are:

  • 1% increase in revenue (potential for an additional .5%)
  • Increase in minimum salaries
  • Increased benefits for current and retired players
  • Fewer padded practices in camp."

Being a player rep involves a heavy time commitment. There are meetings to attend in various parts of the country. Tretter said he has been to three this offseason: in Miami, Los Angeles and most recently in Indianapolis. He also has participated in numerous conference calls. But Tretter calls it "an enjoyable experience," because it allows him to put his bachelor's degree in industrial labor relations to use.

"It's kind of a fun way of diving back into all that stuff I learned throughout college," he said.

Whether through texts, e-mails or tweets, Tretter's goal is provide as much information as he can to fellow players.

"As a rep, I don't want, three years from now, someone to come to me as a player who I played with and say, 'Hey, you never told me about this that was in the agreement,'" he said. "That would be my worst-case scenario if I felt like I let the guys down and didn't give them all the information possible that I had. I want to make sure that everybody I know and all the players I represent are completely up to date with the information I have, so they feel like they can completely make their decision with all the facts in front of them."

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