In addition to serving as a defensive captain and outside linebacker for the Patriots, Mike Vrabel also serves as the team's primary player representative.
In light of Tuesday's news of NFL owners opting out of the final two years of the collective bargaining agreement (2011, 2012), the thought here is that it's a good time to highlight the role of player representative, and his role in the process.
Each of the NFL's 32 teams has at least one player representative. The player rep attends annual meetings with the NFL Players Association and executive director Gene Upshaw, and essentially serves as a resource/sounding board for the rest of his teammates.
In addition to Vrabel, offensive tackle Matt Light has become more involved in recent years, attending meetings, but he is not officially a player rep at this time.
"They’re always open for anybody who has questions, and everybody knows that," receiver Wes Welker explained in a phone interview today.
Last March, I spoke with Vrabel about some of the issues that he felt strongly about, and wrote a piece for the Boston Globe. He was focusing mostly on education, while noting that the franchise tag -- which was a hot topic at the time -- wasn't a top priority because it didn't impact enough players.
This year, Vrabel will surely be focusing his attention to labor issues, making sure his teammates are informed of ongoing developments and all possibilities.