The NFLPA filed its decertification papers on Friday, dissolving in the face of an NFL lockout in an effort to take the battle to the courts. The decision to decertify was immediate followed by an antitrust lawsuit, filed by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and others, an expected development. In addition to the antitrust lawsuit, the players also filed an injunction in an attempt to block a lockout, though a work stoppage did begin at the stroke of midnight, early Saturday morning.
The NFL responded with a statement by Gregg Levy, counsel for the league. In it, Levy called the decertification a sham, comparing it to the NFLPA’s attempt to decertify in 1990.
"The union only pretended to decertify in 1990. As history has confirmed, that purported decertification was a sham," Levy said. "In an effort to protect its ability to repeat the fraud a second time, the union tried in the White settlement to limit the NFL’s ability to challenge in an antitrust court any future attempt by the union to pull off a similar sham. But that limitation could have applied only if the purported decertification occurred after expiration of the Stipulation and Settlement Agreement.
The NFL and NFLPA are engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken with billions of dollars on the line. Both sides are bluffing and calling each others bluffs, all in an effort to strengthen their negotiating positions ahead of the next collective bargaining agreement, whenever it may come.
The NFLPA asked for 10 years of financial records, threatening to decertify if its demands weren't met. The NFL called the bluff, refusing to put the records on the table. Ahead of the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, the union filed for decertification, dissolving the union temporarily.
Whether it’s a sham or not, the NFLPA has filed papers to decertify and the players have filed an antitrust lawsuit. With so much money at stake, expect a nasty legal battle, as well as a battle in the court of public opinion. Now, with mediation off the table, the media war is expected to be more intense as both sides attempt to sway the fans. In short, it won’t be pretty and Levy’s statement is the first of many.
For the latest on the negotiations and litigation, check out the rest of our NFL lockout StoryStream.