The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement back in 2011, and it extended through the 2020 season. While there was a lockout that offseason, the deal got done in time to prevent any missed regular season games.
Since then, the league has been viewed as the “winner” of the CBA, and the relationship between the league and the union has remained sour. The current deal does not expire until after the 2020 season, but there is already some saber-rattling on both sides. The latest comes from the NFLPA leadership.
NFLPA executive George Atallah was on SiriusXM NFL radio on Tuesday, and he talked about the need for players to prepare for a potential labor stoppage. Prior to the 2011 lockout, players were warned about the need to save, but there were multiple reports of players taking out high interest loans because they had not saved enough to deal with their high personal overhead costs. The NFLPA took out a $44 million insurance policy that would have paid $200,000 to each player if the entire season was cancelled. However, for some players, that would not have been nearly enough to cover the costs they’d started to incur.
Ideally the two sides are going to get a deal done and avoid a labor stoppage. However, given how the two sides have gone back and forth over the past six years, I would be surprised if there was not a labor stoppage. And along with that, I would be surprised if the players came out ahead in a new deal. When labor stoppages were first developing into a thing in sports, players were making significantly less money. I could see it being easier for them to sacrifice pay checks considering they weren’t playing for the same kind of golden goose.
Now, salaries are so high that missing out on a season is costing you potentially life-altering money. And given how short the average NFL career is, the cost of missing games is that much more significant. NFL owners know this, and know they hold significant leverage over players in that regard. Until players are fully prepared to sit out a season, it’s hard to see them settling in for the kind of protracted fight that will be necessary to truly topics like better contract guarantees, better long-term health care, or a host of other issues.