The NFL and NFLPA met again on Wednesday as the two sides work to find a middle ground while negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. Though both sides seem optimistic, and the tone was generally positive after Wednesday’s meeting, it’s clear the league and union are still far apart with Thursday’s deadline looming. If a new agreement cannot be reached, the owners have threatened to force a work stoppage, locking the players out.
The NFLPA has threatened to decertify and take the battle to the court, ceasing to be a union, but over at SB Nation, Joel Thorman points out the scenario could be high-risk and high-reward. It’s a move that may be a bluff, and the NFLPA is running out of time if it does plan to decertify.
Brandt also writes that, though the NFLPA has done the necessary homework on decertification, he doesn’t think they’ve ever wanted to use it. Because of language in the current CBA, the union would have to do this before the expiration of the labor agreement — in other words, tomorrow.
If it’s going to happen, the NFLPA will have to make the move before 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, coinciding with the expiration of the current CBA. Decertifying would allow the NFLPA to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, but is also a risky scenario as turmoil hits a boiling point with the player ranks if a lockout continues for an extended period of time.
It appears the NFL is calling the union’s bluff, maintaining a lockout will still occur whether the NFLPA decertifies or not. The ball is squarely in the players’ court now, and they have just about 36 hours to figure out what to do with it.
Adding to the intrigue is Tuesday’s ruling denying the NFL television revenue from its existing contracts in the event of a lockout. Previously, the NFLPA tried to block the NFL receiving money, but was unsuccessful, making it easier for the owners to absorb the financial burden of an extended period without football. Now, after David Doty reversed the ruling, the NFL would be missing a significant stream of revenue, perhaps leveling the playing field for the union.