PITTSFORD, N.Y. (Aug. 22, 2006) -- Troy Vincent would have preferred Bryant Gumbel kept his views to himself rather than using his TV show as a forum to harshly criticize the NFL's relationship with its players' union.
Vincent, the NFLPA president and Buffalo Bills safety, called Gumbel's comments "inappropriate" and "detrimental."
"He's entitled to speak his mind ... and he felt that was his forum to do so," Vincent said after a Bills training camp practice in suburban Rochester. "But I just thought the timing of things, there's too many good things going on -- we just announced a new commissioner -- in our sport to have these kind of blemishes."
Gumbel created a stir during his closing remarks on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel last week when he suggested that outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue should show his successor, Roger Goodell, "where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash." Gumbel then referred to Upshaw as a "docile head of the players union" and the commissioner's "personal pet," who maintains labor peace at the expense of his members.
Tagliabue responded, calling Gumbel's comments "uninformed" and "inexcusable." Tagliabue also warned Gumbel's status as an NFL Network play-by-play broadcaster this season is in jeopardy and will be determined by Goodell and Steve Bornstein, who runs the league's in-house network.
Upshaw has declined comment.
Vincent said Gumbel's comments were detrimental to both Upshaw and team owners, who have worked closely together in helping establish the NFL as the nation's premier sport.
Noting Gumbel is familiar with both Tagliabue and Upshaw, Vincent said the broadcaster should have shared his views with both in private or, at the very least, invited them for a discussion on his show.
Vincent, however, noted that Gumbel's criticisms are not new and have been made previously by others.
"Was it a wise choice of words? He made no different comments than what other people have said in the past," Vincent said. "Obviously, he felt like he didn't cross the line. Many others felt like he did. So for me to say he crossed the line, to his point, no."
Added Vincent: "That's a personal choice because he made the conscious effort to make those comments. Obviously, those comments were on his heart and we speak what's on our heart."