Ever since the NFL owners opted out of the current CBA deal in 2008, the league and the union – two locomotives – have been headed for a massive train wreck. Currently, both trains are on different tracks on opposite sides of the country. While gaining speed with every mile, both trains will soon switch to the main track and travel to a destination where a major collision is unavoidable. It will have several casualties on both sides and those who aren’t even on the train will feel the effects of the crash.
Throughout the 2010 NFL season, the word lockout was spoken too often and now it will soon likely be a reality. The battle between the league and union is about to get ugly – with a work stoppage on the horizon. In a work stoppage, one of two things take place: either the players go on strike or the owners lock the players out.
The NFLPA and the rest of the football fans in America and around the globe see it coming. The NFLPA now believes that the owners will either lock out the players or impose their final offer as “new work rules.”
The players, directed by Kevin Mawae (NFLPA president) and DeMaurice Smith (executive director), laid the tracks on a very firm foundation for their train to move smoothly. An unfair labor practice charge has been filed by the owners – claiming the players are unwilling to negotiate fairly. The only way the NFLPA can avoid the new work rules laid down by the owners is through decertification, which would block a lockout or combat the new work rule.
As several agents told me, “If the NFLPA decertifies, the NFL would be required to promulgate player acquisition and retention rules on an across-the-board basis. The union then would sue the league, arguing that the imposition of standard rules regarding player acquisition and retention among 32 different businesses constitutes a violation of antitrust laws.”
I feel the NFL thinks they can defeat any labor relations issues in the U.S. court system. The further this drags out the more money owners will lose handling operating costs with no income coming in, but the players will see the light, and this time it’s not a train staring them in the face, it’s their lack of revenue. With no paychecks, it’s hard to pay for that Bentley, Rolls Royce or the upkeep on the 1965 Mustang, their mansions, vacation homes (not to mention tuition for private school, and braces for three of the four kids). While the players are the product, the owners might wait until the players have something to lose – money. Time will tell.
Either way, the NIC (National Invitational Combine) is the next big event for the NFL starting next week; and the two trains will continue to move toward each other at a pace that will be felt throughout the United States.