Logic suggests that the longer the NFL labor dispute drags on, the greater the chances for fragmenting on the part of players.
This isn't so much a question of solidarity when it comes to their court battles with the owners. It's about the unity that could be jeopardized from a football standpoint.
Players commit to teammates
A labor fight can be polarizing, particularly in an environment that's already strained by dramatic differences in salaries, recognition and job security. It certainly would make sense for every player not to agree with all aspects of how the process is being handled from their end. But there can be no arguing this: A team that doesn't stick together during these turbulent times is flirting with potentially disastrous results when games finally are played.
That clearly seems to be the case with players from some teams known to have conducted their own workouts during the lockout, when such activity is prohibited at team facilities, and coaches and other club officials aren't permitted to have any contact with players.
The Washington Redskins are one, thanks to the efforts of linebacker London Fletcher, the consummate team leader. Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy also is exerting the impressive leadership qualities he demonstrated as a rookie last season by rallying teammates for workouts in his native Texas.
History tells us that, from a competitive standpoint, this makes perfect sense. The Redskins proved to be the legends of labor-dispute football. Some might call it coincidence, but it's hardly a stretch to say that being able to sustain a prolonged stretch of practices that players organized and supervised was a factor in the Redskins' winning Super Bowls after the strikes that disrupted the 1982 and 1987 seasons.
As I recall it, staying sharp and honing skills was only part of the edge the Redskins had over other teams that had few, if any, player-run workouts. The much larger benefit was the ability to maintain cohesiveness.