The NFL’s Players Association’s executive director DeMaurice Smith recently spoke with ESPN issuing what seems to be a dire warning to both NFL head office and it’s team owners. The NFL and NFL’s Players’ Association are at present engaged in negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement runs through March of 2021 so we are safe from a work stoppage this coming season but after that it’s up to the two sides to find a middle ground or it’s us, the fans that will also suffer.
While speaking with ESPN Smith stated that “People need to understand that it’s really easy to call for a work stoppage, it’s really hard to win one. So that’s why I started notifying players four years ago about saving their checks, making changes to their debt structure, and the reality is that if we want to hold out and get everything we want, that’s probably going to mean a two-year strike.”.
Smith is scheduled to meet with the board of player representatives tomorrow to inform the players that the two year strike is a strong possibility down the road if negotiations do not go in the the direction they want before the current agreement expires. Of the many issues on the table is the expansion of the season to at least 17 games as the owners and the league seek to make more money from their television deals.
The players have all along pushed back on any lengthening of the season for as long as it has been talked about for obvious reasons. Clearly the players know that there is a physical and sometimes mental toll to playing the game and any additional games only add to the risk they take every Sunday. The NFL for their part have been trying to find ways to make the NFL more of a year round product rather than just something we follow for five months.
The players and the league/owners are also at odds over the share of league revenue’s going to the players vs. the team owners with the players obviously believing that they are not receiving their fair cut of the profits. In addition to the monetary issues the Players Association is also pushing to have the league soften it’s drug and discipline policies. The players are also seeking better overall benefits for not only themselves but also former players.
The owners, for their part have been arguing all along that if the players want more money going to them that the season would have to be expanded. This being the one point where the players refuse to budge seems to make getting a deal done before the end of next seasons league year much less likely. I for one do not see this scenario benefiting anyone from the owners to the player to the fans. The one exception would be the NCAA who would no doubt see an increase in numbers as football fans will look for something to fill the void left by the absence of the NFL.