Disapproval of the collective bargaining agreement by NFL players could mean the end of the NFL – at least temporarily, one game being as the thing holding up NFL CBA. There is mounting concern that football players might decide to stand their ground and not agree to several conditions in the contract, including the push for 17 games, which could cause a suspension of play – call it an extended delay of game penalty – when the current CBA expires after the end of the upcoming season.
Fortunately, there’s still time for a resolution to be found, but one thing is certain. NFL players are no longer willing to do all the hard work while team owners and brass receive the most benefits.
Will It Really Be Holding Up The NFL CBA?
The possibility of a walkout is only idle chatter right now. The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are still determined to find an equitable solution. In absence of that, however, things could turn ugly.
Peter King of NBC Sports reportedly heard it directly from someone on the inside, who said, “If players vote no, it’s simple: there will either be a lockout in 2021 or we will strike. We all want 16 games, and I understand that. But there is no 16-game option. If we want 16 games, we have to be prepared for a job action.”
League owners have already said yes to the new ten-year agreement, as have player representatives. Next up, a majority of the 2,000-strong collective union of players has to agree. Given that the player representatives only approved the CBA 17-14, with one abstention, the smart money is on the approval not splitting the uprights, and possible shanking off to the right.
The president of Chicago-based sports marketing firm Sportscorp Ltd., Marc Ganis, also believes that trouble may lie ahead. Ganis has provided consulting services for a lot of NFL teams and explains, “It would be a huge impact if (the players) vote no. Both parties will have to start getting into hardball negotiations, and prepare for a work stoppage. There’s that old saying, ‘I have my lawyers, and you have your lawyers, and when we use the lawyers, everything turns to crap.’”
It’s Only One Game!
Inarguably, the biggest question centers on the possible season expansion to 17 games, an increase of one over the current amount. Several players have voiced their disapproval of the idea, and are adamant that they won’t accept any contract that includes language for an additional game without serious concessions on the part of teams.
The new CBA would also authorize a higher minimum salary for players and a bigger pension for retirees. It would also allow for additional bonuses and health coverage not seen before, but the players feel that these should be offered by the league for their employment, not because the owners are going to get something in return.
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers feels that owners are trying to hold players hostage, arguing that the 17th game is needed to cover these “added” benefits and other perks they’re willing to give the players. If the benefits come at a cost, they’re no longer benefits.
There’s more than just football for fans at stake, too. Broadcasters are closely watching the back-and-forth debate over the CBA in an effort to gauge how they’ll be able to negotiate new broadcasting contracts. If no agreement is reached, they’ll have to wait on the sidelines for another year and a half to see what terms might eventually be approved by the NFL and the NFLPA.
Fortunately, even if the players don’t immediately agree to the terms approved by NFL owners, there’s still time. Says another NFL insider, in speaking to NBC News, “It’s a fluid process. There are a lot of discussions. The players are well-equipped to make decisions. The players are engaged. If they vote ‘no’ now, that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually get to ‘yes.’ There’s still time.”