BEREA - Don't for a second think the players didn't get what they wanted in the new collective bargaining agreement.
There might have been some issues concerning finances that went the way of the owners, but the players wanted to dictate the rules regarding two issues - the continuation of a 16-game season and the way practices are conducted.
We've already seen a change in practices during training camp. The most noticeable is the elimination of two practices a day with the players in full pads.
Achieving that change was vital in the negotiations for linebacker Scott Fujita, the Browns' player representative. He's quick to refer to a study that showed the majority of injuries happen in the first couple weeks of training camp.
"It's going to help lengthen careers, no doubt about that," Fujita said. "If this schedule was in place 10 years ago when I was a rookie, I realistically feel like I could play 15 or 16 years. It helps that much.
"It's just about doing things smarter and doing things the right way. It's a good approach. It's healthy for everybody involved. From top down I think it's the best approach."
The changes will spill over into the regular season. Coaches are allowed to conduct just 14 workouts with players in full pads during the 16-week schedule - once during each of the first 11 weeks and three times during the final five weeks.
While the changes have been widely accepted by the players, there is another side to the story. Cornerback Sheldon Brown, a veteran of 10 seasons, thinks they could have an adverse effect on young players trying to find a place in the league.
"They will save some guys' careers from the standpoint they will be able to play the game longer," Brown said. "Now it may hurt some guys that don't have the opportunity to improve themselves. Coaches don't have that valuable time where they can groom a guy. It's a double-edged sword."
The debate concerning practices has gone on for a long time, but it was always limited to the difference in the way coaches conduct practices. Some prefer physical workouts with considerable contact, while those known as players' coaches prefer less-demanding sessions with little or no physical contact.
Brown wasn't a big fan of the way former Browns coach Eric Mangini directed his practices. Mangini was from the Bill Parcells school of working the players hard, although he softened his tactics last season.
"When I got here last year I saw a lot of bodies on the ground," Brown said. "I'm like, there's no way you can practice this way and keep your guys for 16 or however many weeks you need them for.
"Every time the body hits the ground it takes a toll. That's why you always hear the coaches say 'Stay up.' If there's a chance for me and a receiver to make a play, he's my teammate. We're going to stay up. I'm going to pull up. As players we're going to evaluate the film. We'll say, 'Would you have made the play?' You say, 'Yeah.' But the smart thing to do is to pull up."
While the NFL is making life easier on its players, there have been no changes in the high school and college games, where two-a-day practices are still the norm. Maybe that will change now that the pros have changed the rules.
"Everybody has their own approaches, and I've seen both sides work and be successful," Fujita said. "I was in a camp with Dick Vermeil for four years. He was one of the best coaches of all time, and he beat the -- out of us. But we had some pretty good seasons.
"Football now is a year-round business. Players take it seriously. Players don't need an eight-week training camp to get ready. They stay in shape all year."