The NFL and the NFLPA are on a collision course and we, the fans, are standing in the center. As of the 4th of March at 12:00 AM the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires. If a new CBA isn’t in place by then some really nasty things could happen which are bad for everyone involved.
- The Lockout – The owners will be able to lock the players out. They will try to use this as a bargaining chip because, during a lockout, the players don’t get paid and they don’t get benefits. While this may seem like no big deal to some of the multi-millionaires, a lot of the players are not all that rich (while no-one playing professional football has a small salary, many players make 6 figure salaries). The benefits will also hurt because many players who were injured are in rehab. The one good thing about this is that a labor judge apparently decided that the NFL doesn’t get the TV money for games that aren’t broadcast.
- The NFLPA dissolves itself as a union – This would be a bad deal all around. It would mean that there is no union and no collective bargaining meaning that players with existing contracts are likely to be screwed with the benefits and the owners could have a season with “replacement” players. The upshot (and bargaining card) for the players is that they would then be able to file anti-trust suits against the league. There are lots of legal nuances here but the players did it once before – that’s how they got free agency – and they may be willing to try again. The union already has authorization to dissolve itself.
- They agree to continue negotiating and to play the 2011 season under the expired CBA – Everyone agrees that this isn’t likely. The owners feel that the current division of wealth in the CBA is too slanted towards the players.
- Absolutely nothing – things stay in a state of limbo with no lockout and the union continuing to exist while negotiations continue. This could go on for a while and would keep the cliff a bit farther away.
While option number 3 would give us football in the coming season I seriously doubt it’s going to happen. So here is a message to both sides – when Thursday runs around hold off on the throwing down your cards. Owners – don’t declare a lockout. Players – don’t dissolve your union. Give it a little more time before you drive off a cliff and take the fans with you!