Clifford seeks better benefits for players
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is playing a leading role in organizing college football players, including the Nittany Lions.
News broke Friday that Clifford is at the center of a movement that is launching the first chapter of an independent players association through the College Football Players Association.
“It’s all about two things: the players that are here currently — seeing how football wears on them — and then, secondly, the players that have came and gone,” Clifford told the website “More Perfect Union.”
More Perfect Union describes itself as “media that builds power for working people.”
The website reported that the players want revenue sharing with the Big Ten and improved medical benefits.
ESPN reported Friday that Clifford was part of a group that discussed the topic with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren this week.
In a tweet later Friday, Clifford said he’s discussed his ideas with Penn State coach James Franklin and new athletic director Pat Kraft.
“It is important to state my dialogues were discussed as a student-athlete,” he said. “To categorize my dialogue as being on behalf of a union or union member would be inaccurate.”
Clifford is scheduled to attend Big Ten Media Days in Chicago next week.
“The group has asked to begin a conversation with the conference about demands including revenue sharing, and says Warren agreed to start that conversation,” ESPN’s Dan Murphy tweeted.
The College Football Players Association was formed in July 2021 to “engage in nationwide advocacy for the rights of college football players.”
Clifford is not a member of the CFPA and said he is “committed to working at the campus and conference level.”
He started his own Name, Image and Likeness company in the past year at PSU and represents several Penn State athletes.
Jordan Zakarin, a reporter-producer for @moreperfectUS,” tweeted that “all” players of Penn State’s leadership team support the movement.
In a short video, Clifford talked about running back Journey Brown, whose promising career was cut short by a heart ailment after the 2019 season.
“Journey is my neighbor currently and one of my best buddies,” Clifford said. “The game was taken from him earlier than he expected, and it’s tough for guys like that to continue on and figure out what the next step is. Being a leader for them is very important to me.”
Kraft, who connected Clifford with Warren, released a statement Friday evening, saying, “Over the course of several conversations in recent weeks with Sean Clifford, he has shared with me his desire to explore pathways to improve the student-athlete experience for all student-athletes in the Big Ten.
“Sean is a tremendous young man who is educating himself on some of the major issues in intercollegiate athletics. I am supportive of — and take great pride in — student-athletes using their voices to affect positive change in all areas of life.”
Clifford said he appreciates the interaction.
“I’m truly grateful to be part of a team, university and conference where our leadership is truly open to listening and learning from students to further strengthen and safeguard our academic and competitive experiences.”