Lawsuits and football don't mix.

Rift in Players Union Now Evident

According to Andrew Brandt of the NFLPA has begun to splinter in the wake of the decertification that took place last month. Despite the seemingly united front portrayed by the players’ union, all is not well on the NFLPA side of things. Currently, the owners are locking out the players. To combat that the NFLPA has decertified (meaning it is no longer a union) and several players have filed a class-action suit against the NFL owners.

Well now, a group of about 70 mid-level NFL players have banded together and are about to intervene in the on-going NFLPA suit so they can have their side of the argument heard. It seems as though Roger Goodell was able to connect with the mid-to-low level group of players in the NFL in his recent batch of correspondences and now the rest of the league is wondering whether what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Whereas the the top-tier players in the league are somewhat insulated, the mid-to-lower tier players are not as financially secure. Now the owners seem to have driven a wedge between the have’s and the have-not’s in the NFL and that will help them in their negotiations long-term. Veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel understands what is at stake, Vrabel said that abandoning the cause in this way would be the wrong way to demonstrate dissatisfaction:

“We all have a seat at the table already. If they’re unhappy, then we should get together and elect a new executive board,” he said.

Unfortunately, the NFLPA is currently acting as a divided front, thus weakening their bargaining position. If things are going to get better everyone just needs to cut the crap and get back to negotiating.

For those interested, here is the report:

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  • BamBamBuc

    I think you got that backwards. The players union decertified first. Then the owners locked out the players. The union had to decertify before the old CBA expired or wait 6 months, and they chose not to wait. Once they decertified, the owners only recourse was to lockout the players. If the owners did anything to prompt the union to decertify, it was to opt out of the former CBA early, which both sides had the option to do.

    I’m sure this is a small rift in the union, but don’t know how much it will affect negotiations. All the 70 mid-level players are asking for is a seat at the negotiation table. They want to be heard, so the new CBA isn’t loaded for the top tier players and mediocre for them. I can’t blame them for that.

    I think what will be more important is the judges ruling that should be heard early next week. We’re also still waiting to hear from the National Labor Relations Board regarding the NFL’s claim that the union wasn’t bargaining in good faith. Both those rulings could change the face of this lockout and either could end things quite rapidly.

    • Patrik Nohe

      Yeah, from a chronological standpoint I listed that incorrectly. My intention behind that description was to say the NFLPA decertified preemptively knowing a lockout would be forthcoming. Either way the whole situation is a mess and I can tell you personally, it’s a lot more fun to be writing articles on free agency than covering this garbage. Hopefully it gets resolved soon but I’m not holding my breath.

      • BamBamBuc

        I’m not sure I agree with that either. If the Union did not decertify, the NFL would have no reason to lockout the players. The union would be forced for the next 6 months to negotiate on behalf of the players, and their only position of strength would be to strike. So, if they didn’t decertify, the NFL wouldn’t have locked out the players, and the players would probably have gone on strike. That, of course, leaves open the possibility of “scab” games which can’t happen in a lockout. The Union had two options if they didn’t want to negotiate, decertify or strike. The NFL didn’t have much choice other than to lockout the players. If they didn’t, and continued to operate “as normal” until this was settled, they were completely vulnerable to anti-trust suits. Anything they did would be scrutinized in anti-trust and susceptible to triple damages. If they signed a FA player and another player felt slighted, they could file suit. If they put a franchise tag on a player that didn’t want to be franchised, they could be sued. If any player were limited in testing the free market (even if under contract to another team) they could be sued for anti-trust. The lockout was absolutely necessary for the NFL to avoid massive damages.

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