All Seahawks players had a union meeting this afternoon with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith following practice, so the locker room was as vacant as it ever will be.
Richard Sherman was elected the Seahawks' new players' union representative, a job the now-departed Michael Robinson had last year. Zach Miller is again an alternate. Michael Bennett is another alternate.
On his way out of Seahawks' headquarters a few minutes ago, Smith stopped in the front lobby and answered questions about the Ray Rice video of the Baltimore Ravens running back punching his fiancee, now wife, knocking her out and dragging her face-down out of an elevator. The images are so deplorable that I won't link TMZ's video again here (I did in a post this morning if you want to see it). The footage coming out this morning led to the Ravens to release Rice and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change the two-game suspension he had originally given Rice (in a self-described mistake) to an indefinite one.
"It's disturbing to watch," Smith said here in Renton of the Rice video. "As a union we have an unshakable position against any violence, certainly domestic violence included.
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Smith was traveling to the Seahawks facility, his first of 32 similar meetings with individual teams during this season, when the news broke of the Ravens cutting Rice and Goodell suspending him indefinitely.
"It will be a time for us now to catch up with everything else that has occurred today," said Smith, who has been the NFLPA's executive director since 2009. "I have not yet talked to Roger; I'm sure I will do that in the next few hours, and (we will) gather the facts and find out the next steps."
The issue with the NFLPA now is whether or not to contest Goodell's indefinite suspension, which is now based upon video evidence the league is insisting it never saw before today or while issuing Rice his original, two-game suspension. The NFL is insisting a celebrity gossip and entertainment outlet was able to do what the league's investigators were not in the initial probe of Rice were not: discover the video's existence.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press asked if the union was involved in trying to get more information -- including the TMZ video -- for its investigation of Rice regarding his initial, tw0-game suspension for domestic assault.
"Let me answer the question this way about the video: To my knowledge, no one on the players-union side was involved in trying to secure any additional videos," Smith said. "I did hear some of the other statements; I read the papers just like you all. I think it's important in the next couple days to do what we do, figure out the facts, figure out the basis of the league for their actions and try to understand next steps.
"First and foremost here: I know everyone gets caught up in the fact of these actions or the fact of players getting released; our focus right now is understandably on making sure that we can do everything we can for the people involved. And that's everybody. So that's our job now as a union and the rest of the process, the legal process, those come second."
Asked about negotiations between the union and the league on a new drug policy, which may be close to an agreement, Smith said he sent a team of negotiators to New York to meet with NFL executives today.
"Look, the simple fact is, for a long time we have been fighting over what we feel are the necessary components of a fair system," Smith said. "My hope is that we resolve the outstanding issues quickly. I do know that one significant sticking point will be any insistence that a player be punished or suspended upon arrest. We believe that a player is entitled to due process.
"We also note that the league made a decision to not suspend an owner (Jim Irsay of Indianapolis) who was recently arrested. And I know the commissioner cited the need for all the facts and for due process to play out. I agree."
Irsay pleaded guilty this month to a charge of driving while intoxicated in Indiana. Goodell waited for that plea, then hours after it was announced on Sept. 2 the commissioner suspended the Colts owner for six games and fined him $500,000.