Leonard Weaver realized pretty quickly after his Comcast SportsNet interview aired Tuesday that fans weren’t getting the message he had intended to send.
In referencing and agreeing with the statement of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson that owners looked at the locked-out players as “slaves,” Weaver set off a backlash that flooded his Twitter account. Today, after apologizing via Twitter, the Eagles fullback made the media rounds, trying to explain himself.
Weaver said he wanted to draw a parallel between workers who feel powerless when treated arbitrarily and NFL players, whose huge salaries might make them seem immune to such treatment.
“That was a bad choice of words. When you say ‘slave,’ people automatically think of people getting worked for nothing,” Weaver said today, as he undertook another full day of rehab from knee and ankle surgeries in a Birmingham, Ala., facility affiliated with Dr. James Andrews. Weaver suffered a gruesome, career-threatening injury to his left leg in last season’s opener.
“The point I was trying to get across was, we as players are being oppressed in the sense that we don’t know everything that’s going on behind closed doors when it comes to the owners ... They don’t show us their books; they don’t show us how much money we are generating for them, even though we are getting paid millions.”
(Actually, players are told how much the league generates, but they are not told how much profit each team makes, what owners pay themselves, and so on.)
After making the Pro Bowl following the 2009 season, Weaver set a record for a fullback by signing a 3-year, $11 million deal, $6.5 million guaranteed.
“Not everybody in the NFL makes a million dollars, and on top of that, the signing bonus is all that’s guaranteed ... I want [fans] to understand, I’m not coming at you all as a millionaire who was given something,” Weaver said. “I worked my butt off, just like some of these young men and women who are making $40,000 or $50,000 a year; I worked my butt off to get where I am, and I’m appreciative of that. I would never degrade any of those people, because I understand, hand-in-hand, what they’re going through. It wasn’t but 4 or 5 years ago I was in their position.
“Everybody in Philly is coming at me as if, ‘Aw, he’s so ignorant and he’s ungrateful’ — you don’t understand, I understood what Adrian Peterson was saying. He was saying that we as players come to work, we show up on time, we perform to top level ... You want to come and take 20 percent of what I’ve got and then tell me to play two more games? To me, it’s the same struggle as the man who makes $40,000, and that’s the message that I should have been more clear in trying to relate to them. It’s not about me making a million dollars. I’ve been fortunate, man. I thank the fans of Philly, because they are a big part of why I got my contract ... The dollar amount isn’t the issue.”
Download our NEW iPhone/Android app for even more Birds coverage, including app-exclusive videos and analysis. Get it here.