AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield has confirmed that the league has rejected the players' offer of a 50 per cent pay cut during the coronavirus shutdown.
The two parties are at loggerheads but the Geelong superstar says it's wrong to call it a pay war.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced the premiership season would be suspended until at least May 31 on Sunday in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
With a revenue hit of between $500 million and $1 billion expected, the league quickly moved to make deep cuts to its workforce.
About 80 percent of employees at league headquarters and at the 18 clubs were stood down without pay on Monday.
AFL legend Leigh Matthews led the chorus of criticism on 3AW on Tuesday when he said that he had lost respect for the players after they offered to take just a 50 per cent pay cut over the next two months.
"I think we need to put some time in before shooting from the hip... It's being pitched as a pay war and it's not the case," Dangerfield told SEN on Wednesday.
"The facts are that we only know what the next two months looks like.
"This has been rapidly evolving and has escaped all of us, clearly.
"That's why we volunteered the 50 percent at this stage because we don't know.
"Are we prepared to take longer term cuts?
"Absolutely, but we need a bit more information in regards to where the season is going, the finances of the season, so we can make the right decisions for the players, but also the game because without a game we have nothing, clearly.
"But we need that information and we haven't got it yet."
It's unlikely that information will be forthcoming, with the AFL reluctant to completely open its books and with such uncertainty over the continuation of the season remaining.
With jobs being slashed across all industries, the AFLPA's stance is at odds with the wider community.
It has emerged that Cats coach Chris Scott will work without pay during the shutdown.
While the players are losing the public relations battle, Dangerfield is adamant they are working towards a resolution that works for all parties.
"The criticism has been extreme in terms of what we as players cop on a daily basis," he said.
"But I'd ask rather than judging now, judge us at the end of the process once we resolve it and it's a fair position we reach.
"There's so much to work through."