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Ron Mix
August 12, 1968
Football's most thoughtful tackle, Ron Mix of San Diego, recalls his own bargaining adventure and offers some good tips to his fellow pros
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August 12, 1968

The Two-man Union That Failed

Football's most thoughtful tackle, Ron Mix of San Diego, recalls his own bargaining adventure and offers some good tips to his fellow pros

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"Coach, we...."

"I will not talk to you."

"Well, in that case," I said, "we don't have any other choice but to retire." And out of the corner of my eye I saw Frank do a slow die. This was not supposed to have happened.

"That decision is up to you."

Outside, Frank and I looked at each other and laughed. It was done. Frank made a circle with his thumb and forefinger and gestured at me as he said, "Good plan, Ron."

"Uh, uh, I'm absolved," I said. "It was your plan. And thanks for the help. You were a real eagle in there."

"I was about to jump in and slaughter Sid with reason, but you were doing so well. Ugh. Are you kidding? I think if we had stayed another minute you would have thrown your arms around Sid and condemned me."

On the second day of our retirement Frank visited my wife and myself and informed us that he had decided to return to camp and reopen negotiations. He spent the night at our apartment and had already left by the time we awoke the next morning. The story goes that at 5 a.m. Coach Gillman was awakened by a light tapping at his door; it was Frank knocking on Sid's door with a pen. Still, Frank ended up with a good contract and would never really have to grow fond of an occasional dinner of "a grape...a glass of water and half a macaroon." But, I still don't think he was cut out for all that plotting. For that matter, neither was my wife Pat. On the day of Frank's visit a newscaster called my apartment for a statement. Pat, explaining my absence, told the man that Frank and I were working out, thus somewhat shaking the credibility of our retirement.

Now, I relate this isolated incident to the mass football-labor movement because I believe that the same emotional drive that inspired Frank and me to walk out motivates the mass of football players to have a propensity, a desire, to strike. We are physical people. We get results by physical expression, and it is of general truth that other forms of expression are not likely to be as satisfying. In other words, an act must be performed to show our disdain.

In later conversations Frank and I confided in each other that each was hoping that an agreement would not be reached with Coach Gillman at that time. There it was: we wanted to walk out of camp. We wanted that brief glowing satisfaction that comes with telling the dictating powers that you are fed up, that you don't need them, that you are tired of compromising, that they can keep their little football. Rhetoric is so much nonsense. One's sincerity is judged by one's acts. Hit 'em: walk out, strike. And, Lord, it feels good.

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