From the Charlotte Observer’s George Chandler.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure said Monday he takes as a serious threat comments made about him last week by Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association.
In a story in Friday’s editions of the Philadelphia Daily News, Upshaw (above) defended his record for helping retired players and took aim at DeLamielleure, one of his harshest critics who has called for the NFLPA leader’s ouster.
“A guy like DeLamielleure says the things he said about me; you think I’m going to invite him to dinner? No. I’m going to break his …damn neck,” Upshaw was quoted as saying by the Daily News.
Upshaw also said he told a group of Hall of Famers last year: “I’m not one to turn the other cheek. You’re not going to hit me in the nose and I’m going to sit there and smile.”
Upshaw declined to comment when questioned by the Observer in person Saturday at a retired players convention in Atlanta. He also did not respond to e-mailed questions Monday.
DeLamielleure, a Charlotte resident, said Upshaw’s comments were unsettling to his family.
“At first, I was angry,” he said. “All the competitiveness comes out in you and I thought, `I’d like to see him try.’ But then reality sets in.
“My wife was petrified. We grew up in Detroit. You know what unions are. You hear about it. She goes, `Hey, this guy is a head of a union, a powerful union, and (when) he makes a threat like that, you’d better take it serious.’
Except for the part about Mrs. DeLamielleure characterizing the NFLPA as “powerful”, I’d say her husband has every right to take umbrage. Amazing that in an era in which current NFL players who’ve yet to be convicted of crimes are suspended without due process, union leadership resorts to intimidation when trying to quell criticism from retired players. Can you imagine Donald Fehr threatening to break a former player’s neck?