To recap, the CBA has expired, the players’ union has decertified, the teams have imposed a player lockout, and the newly non-unionized players have filed an anti-trust lawsuit. Things do not look good.
However, a couple things need to be pointed out here. First off, the draft will most likely still occur in spite of the NFLPA’s efforts to get draft prospects to boycott the event. The very first paragraph of the portion of the CBA covering the draft (specifically Article XVI, Section 1) stipulates that “There shall be an Annual Selection Meeting (the “College Draft” or “Draft”) each League Year during the term of this Agreement and in the League Year immediately following the expiration or termination of this Agreement.” According to my lawyer wife, this clause should still have legal effect even though the CBA has expired, and sports law prof Michael McCann seems to agree with that assessment.
But why decertify and take the league to court? Well, because it’s worked in the past. The union’s strikes in ’82 and ’87 resulted in only marginal gains, so the NFLPA decertified after those failures and took the fight to court. A string of victories followed over the next few years, eventually forcing the NFL to sign a new CBA in 1993 that allowed free agency, among other things. (Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has written a good, quick recap of these previous labor disputes.)
But while it took the NFLPA six years to force the NFL to reach a more equitable compromise through legal victories, football was still played without a CBA. Heck, Redskins and 49ers might even prefer an expired CBA, seeing as how each team won two Super Bowls apiece in those six seasons. So, although the lockout is currently keeping the league from engaging in business as usual, there’s hope for us fans that we’ll still get to see games even in the event of a protracted legal battle.
Unless it becomes clear that the draft or regular season will actually be cancelled, I see no reason why we should let the disputes of billionaire owners and millionaire players ruin our fun. I want to talk football, you all want to talk football, and that’s just what we’re going to keep doing here at Seahawk Addicts. We remain open for business, and tomorrow new articles will start going up again. Not today, though — my wife and one of my stepdaughters are both home sick, and I should go take care of them even though they’ll most likely infect me in the process. It’s a good thing I like them.
(If you’re curious, you can download the full 299 page text of the CBA here. It also works wonders as a sleep aid — for particularly tough cases of insomnia, I recommend Article XXIV: Guaranteed League-Wide Salary, Salary Cap, & Minimum Team Salary. If 63 pages of monetary sub-clauses can’t put you to sleep, nothing will.)