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There is no prominent sport that requires more courage than football. Somehow, the most courageous of these gentlemen, the players in the NFL, turn into cowards when trying to get a just deal with management.

The NFL Players Association is such a gutless union that it has allowed DeMaurice Smith to continue as its leader, even after he agreed to the most one-sided contract imaginable in favor of ownership.

Greater hundreds of millions have flowed into the NFL — a bonanza created by players who are risking limbs and future health on contracts filled with non-guaranteed money and other options that allow teams to rob them in creative ways.

We have a prime example taking place with Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater was injured practicing football last August. The Vikings controlled his services by placing him on injured reserve. By any reasonable standard, that’s a year in the league — a year of service time that gets a player closer to free-agent rights and potentially a sizable contract.

The Vikings responded this offseason by declining Bridgewater’s fifth-year (2018) option. This was understandable, since after paying him crumbs to this point (including $1.354 million for 2017), the Vikings would have been obligated to pay $11 million in 2018 to keep the first-rounder.

Except, the union had signed off on another contract subclause to allow teams to rob players. You wonder if DeMaurice and his dunderheads even noticed some of this stuff.

This opportunity to put the knife in Bridgewater’s back (after it was put in his knee) involves placing him on the unable-to-perform list. By doing this, even for six games, the Vikings can wipe this year off the books and maintain the rights to Bridgewater in 2018 for the miserly $1.354 million, and then decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option in what’s really his sixth season in 2019.

How can men willing to collide with other 280-pound blocks of granite be such cowards in dealing with greed-driven men in $4,000 suits?

PLUS THREE

Thoughts meant to be gentle on your mind:

• Gophers football has sold 1,200 new season tickets to the public (not students) for 2017. For all the positive publicity aimed at new coach P.J. Fleck, that’s not many.

• Among his many assets, Brian Dozier plays — starting 95 percent of games at second base for the Twins since 2014.

• Jimmy Butler would be the best thing to ever happen to Andrew Wiggins, so keep Wiggy.

Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at preusse@startribune.com.