Till now I have purposely avoided concerning myself with the day-to-day minutiae of the ongoing labor negotiations between the National Football League and the Players’ Association. After all, there’s going to be a deal. The only question(s) is what will the deal look like, and when will they get it done. The league’s current CBA (collective bargaining agreement) expires in a little over two weeks. If the CBA expires, all that means is that there’s no agreement in place. Could there be a lockout (owners refuse to keep the status quo)? Sure. Could there be a strike (players refuse to play without a new agreement)? Sure. But will there be? Nobody, including God—and those at ESPN who think they are—knows the answer.
This morning on Mike & Mike, I heard an ESPN columnist discussing the complaint that the NFL filed yesterday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Players’ Association. He then proceeded to compare the current NFL labor situation to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, which is an utterly ridiculous proposition. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the columnist’s name.
Regardless of whether he really believed what he was saying, or whether he just didn’t do his homework, making that kind of statement this early in the game is not only premature and reckless, but there is no good that can come from it. All it will do is make football fans uneasy and uptight. Lest we forget how damaging the MLB strike was to the game of baseball. It took years for baseball to earn its way back into America’s family rooms; of course, after that the game’s popularity suffered again after the steroid scandal erupted. But here’s why the two situations are completely unrelated:
First, in the 1994 MLB labor dispute, it was the players that filed an NLRB complaint against the owners, not the other way around, as is the case today. Second, the players didn’t file that complaint until after they had already been on strike for roughly six months, and didn’t do so until Congress and President Clinton stepped in to try to end the strike. Here, the current CBA hasn’t even expired, and even if/when it does, there are six months between that date and the start of the next NFL season.
I don’t believe that an NFL strike/lockout is out of the question, but given the commercially-driven attitude of Roger Goodell and the new, No Fun League, and the amount of money that stands to be lost as the result of any work stoppage, I don’t think that a strike or lockout is likely. Nevertheless, if the season were delayed because the dispute remains unresolved, as fans we could all luck out, by being spared the Chinese torture of having to watch the NFL preseason.
For a more in-depth analysis of the substantive issues and applicable law relating to the NFL’s complaint, check out this post at www.laborrelationstoday.com.