The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are a little closer to preventing a major disaster for football fans with a delay of the game. The NFLPA was expected to review, and vote on, a new proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) at the end of last week, but determined it needed more time.
Player representatives and other members of the organization have now had that time, and are ready to ship the CBA off for a full union membership vote. If a majority of around 2,000 players agree, football fans will have ten years before the next CBA will be discussed.
The player representatives and members of the negotiating committee spent about four hours yesterday going over the CBA, which includes the possibility of seeing the regular NFL season expanded to 17 games from the current 16. That four-hour meeting was just the start, though, as 32 team representatives then took a shot at the agreement before everyone agreed that there was a chance that it would be approved by players.
It would be after midnight before the final decision was made, and the NFLPA happily sent out an early-morning tweet to spread the word. It announced on Twitter, “The NFLPA Board of Player Representatives voted to send the proposed collective bargaining agreement to the full player membership for a vote.”
It could still take a few weeks for that final vote to take place we we won’t know about any delay to the NBA game for a while. There is still some debate over certain aspects of the agreement, with the 17-game schedule being the most contentious. Several players have already voiced their opposition to the plan, and garnering majority support for the CBA is anything but a slam dunk.
NFLPA President Eric Winston, with so much at stake in the new CBA, isn’t going to pressure any player. He told reporters Wednesday night, “I have said repeatedly that there will be white smoke when there is white smoke. The one thing we’re not doing is rushing into anything. The one thing we’re not doing is rushing through this. Every ‘I’ will be dotted, every ‘T’ will be crossed, and when that happens, that happens.”
In addition to the slightly longer season, the CBA offers a shorter preseason, higher revenue sharing for players and better pensions for former players. Additionally, and certainly reluctantly, team owners agreed to get rid of the $250,000 cap on players’ earnings after they pick up an extra check for that 17th game.
The NFLPA executive committee liked the proposal enough to approve it last Friday, but just barely. It was six votes for and five against, which means that there is no clear path ahead. However, the fact that the player representatives, after having met with the league yesterday, have agreed to send the CBA out to the entire field should be an indication that there is enough support for them to believe it will be received well enough by the players.
The current CBA doesn’t expire until next year, which is when the 17-game schedule would begin. However, there is still enough opposition on that particular point that it may eventually have to be scrapped to stop a delay to the game. There is also talk of an expanded playoff season, adding one game to each conference, but this isn’t included in the CBA. The NFL could decide to expand the playoffs without requiring an agreement; however, owners have repeatedly stated that they would not want to make a move until a new CBA were approved.
In bargaining for a new agreement, players were holding out on several issues that owners ultimately decided to accept. Among these, there will be a cap placed on the number of international games held in a season, and there can never be a full week of games on foreign soil. Additionally, most teams will have a schedule that includes nine home games and eight road games on a rotating schedule.