Judge Irwin weighs in on NFL labor dispute

Knoxville (WVLT) -- The NFL is about 80 days away from the preseason and there's still no labor agreement in sight. Many are sounding off on the issue, but few are more qualified to judge the situation than former Vol and NFL standout Tim Irwin.

Irwin left his mark on UT and the NFL by making difficult blocks as an imposing offensive lineman. Now he's an imposing presence on the bench serving as Juvenile Court judge. His goal is to block our area youth from continually making the wrong decisions, but what about the decisions currently being made at the professional level of the sport he loves so much?

"I think you got it in perspective," Irwin said. "It's simpler than most people think. You have these convoluted court opinions and I think that kind of detracts what the real issue is.

"First of all, you got to understand that the players are not asking for anything new. The players would be very happy to continue with their contract, just as it is. The owners are saying, 'no, you make too much, we're gonna shut the league down unless you reconsider.'"

The NFL lockout hits close to home with Irwin, who fought through the NFL player strike of 1987. But that was a different time and a different set of circumstances.

"That was a work stoppage by the players and the owners weren't quite ready for that move," Irwin said. "It led to a lawsuit, it led to a settlement, which resulted in ten years of labor peace."

It was the owners who terminated the CBA and locked out the players; the players in turn, decertified. But ultimately, it's the fans who suffer while watching millionaires and in the case of owners, billionaires squabble over money.

"It really is about the future," Irwin said. "The revenues are expected to go up so much in that sport that the owners are saying, '50 percent is too much. You need to take less.' The players are saying, 'we are the game. We deserve at least half of things no matter how much money you're making.'"

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