Northwestern’s football players practiced on Tuesday for the first time since the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board granted them the right to form a union.

As far as any potential collective bargaining is concerned, that pits the players against their university. But running back Venric Mark said it will not have an effect on the cohesion of the locker room.

“It doesn’t threaten anything,” Mark said. “The union situation is the union situation. But we’re here at Northwestern and we’re glad to be here. Northwestern has treated us all well, and we know that and we know that it is a privilege to be here. At the end of the day, we are all going to support our former teammate, but we also know we’re here to get a degree and we’re also here to play football. We have another season to look forward to, and I think we’re as close together and as strong as we’ve ever been in the program.”

Still, the players realize that they could be on the forefront of change in collegiate athletics.

Those who elected to speak on the issue echoed the sentiment of College Athletes Players Association President Ramogi Huma. Their primary focus is aimed toward securing long-term medical care.

“It’s pretty cool what we’re trying to do,” defensive lineman Chance Carter said. “What we’re trying to do actually is a big thing here football-wise since it’s such a violent sport. All we’re looking for is some kind of benefit when football is over. Some guys have some nagging injuries since playing football and just trying to get some sort of trust fund or something to help us out medically.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen