Last year the NFL and NFLPA worked out a labor deal that would seem to have ensured some measure of labor peace. Unfortunately, as is often the case in labor-management relations, "labor peace" is really just a relative phrase. The league finds itself in all sorts of battles dealing with former, current and future collective bargaining agreements.
Thankfully, there is no reason to expect play to come to a halt anytime soon, but these issues are still pertinent in the long term relationships between the league and its many employees. Although future labor deals can be worked out in spite of past troubles, things like the NFLPA suing the league for collusion are not going to create a harmonious negotiating environment nine years from now. That's not to say things won't work out fine in the long run, but the league and its players aren't exactly building bridges here. I'll be attending an NFLPA press conference later this afternoon to hear more about this lawsuit. I understand many of you could care less about the courtroom battles, so I'll keep that fairly limited.
However, there is another labor battle that is worth noting. The NFL and its referees find themselves in a tough negotiation for a new collective bargaining agreement. The refs' CBA expired after this past season and they are currently in negotiations for a new CBA. The NFL is currently working to cover itself in case the negotiation drags into the season, as they have begun looking into the possibility of replacement referees.
This does not mean a deal won't happen in time for the season, but this is not exactly a positive development. And the idea of replacement referees is not exactly an appetizing thought. Replacement refs are not incompetent by any stretch, but there is often a reason they have not been selected to be NFL referees. I was speaking with a friend who follows the NBA, and while nobody cared about replacement refs at first, when the preseason began and they began screwing up calls, fans quickly got annoyed.
This hasn't been a huge story, but as we get closer to the season, if a deal isn't done, this will be something I'll keep a closer eye on. I know this is not the most exciting aspect of professional sports, but that's why you've got an attorney here to keep an eye out for this kind of stuff!