NFL Work Stoppage – Not When, But For How Long

In a recent post by Profootballtalk.com, “Some league insider remain convinced impasse, not lockout, is coming”, Mike Florio points out an interesting notion.

If the NFL (owners) decides to present a last minute “take it or leave it” offer to the players and the players balk, it will be hard for the players to have a sustainable argument to call for a strike.

It is clear the owners are not happy about the terms of the current labor deal of which they opted out of in 2008.  What we have is a high stakes game of poker, chess, or chicken (insert your analogy here) between the owners and the NFLPA.  Barring some cataclysmic event, I can assure you as of March 5, 2011, at 12:00am, there will be an official work stoppage of NFL football.  This is when the story will truly become interesting, because the NFLPA is cocked and loaded with the threat of DE-CERTIFICATION, and the owners are cocked and loaded with more time and money than the players (individually).

While both parties want to agree on a new labor agreement, neither party in a huge rush to get a deal done at this time, because there is no real financial pressure (other than fans and media) as of yet to get an agreement in place. The owners are going to likely call the bluff of the NFLPA to decertify which would cause a landslide of multiple lawsuits against the NFL and truly threaten the prospectus of NFL football in 2011.  I do not expect the NFLPA to decertify right away when the clock strikes midnight on March 5, despite having the authority to do so as voted by the current players.  It is disastrous for everyone financially (owners, players, fans, etc.) if the NFLPA de-certifies.

The question it not whether or not there will be a work stoppage, but the better question is “for how long?”  The NFLPA will have the pressure of players due to receive roster/reporting bonus payments in the new League Year breathing down their necks, however, the players looking to receive such payments is smaller than the amount of players who are not receiving such bonuses. Most players of this group set to receive these types of bonuses are generally well set financially to weather a few months without those payments.  The true test for the NFLPA and its players’ solidarity will come as the scheduled beginning of the 2011 NFL season gets closer – in September.

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