The NFL players are locked out and if you listen to what’s coming out of some NFL offices you may start wondering if there is going to be a season. The Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions have both announced that any ticket holders who have purchased tickets will receive a full refund plus added interest if there is no season while the NY Jets have declined the option to add interest to any money handed back over to the fan. While this isn’t a slam dunk certainty, it’s disheartening to see teams looking towards no games in September although we all know that is a possibility.
We simply don’t want to hear it.
Amid all of this talk however is news coming from Adam Schefter of ESPN that the “NFL Trade Commission” formerly known as the NFLPA is still possibly acting like their former self. According to Schefter, the whatever the hell they call themselves these days is instructing incoming players to boycott the April draft in an attempt to show unity. In fact, it’s being reported that the defunct NFLPA is threatening to pull the top 15-20 prospects and move them to another network for the purposes of allowing the players to be interviewed and not losing as much of “their” day as they can.
This brings up several questions such as how can they “union” who is not a union tell any rookies what to do? We’ll get to that in a moment.
My first thought was what “rival” network would they move the “drafted players” too? I suppose the thought of a “rival” network means that maybe they plan on hosting on the CW or maybe even PBS. I mean seriously, NBC, FOX, CBS, and ESPN are not going to do anything to piss off the owners or the league when two years from now their contracts will be up and they will have to renegotiate. While it could be possible that one of those 4 who already host television deals with the league would jump at the chance to have an exclusive deal with the players but I don’t buy it.
The next question on that front is who exactly would they negotiate with? The NFLPA doesn’t exist so who will be contacting the Network on the players behalf? Drew Brees? Tom Brady? And if so, then who would be contacting them to tell them what and how to do it? Oh, yeah, the “trade commission” that really isn’t a union.
The fact that incoming rookie Von Miller is part of the 10 player contingent filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL it makes sense that the players reps would try and keep the incoming class from doing anything that will put money into the pocket of the league. The NFL Draft is one of the most watched sporting events on television and with the lockout possibly still in affect, the players will want to have a voice in how the NFL is treated by it’s rookie class (who by the way will not officially become part of the league until the labor dispute is over.)
The first scheduled hearing is set for April 6th and Judge David Doty will NOT be presiding over the case. After two other judges found ways to get out of trying the case, Judge Susan Nelson will be. She set the hearing date that will open up arguments about the NFLPA’s decertification to be a “sham” as well as the claim by the 10 players that the NFL is violating US Anti-trust laws by locking out a non-union group of employees.
For my money, I’m not sure why the NFL doesn’t simply proclaim all 32 teams independent businesses and that the NFL itself is a 33rd independent business that hosts the other 32. In that way, the NFL could become sort of a “club” in which 32 businesses (32 teams) simply join that club and abide by that companies rules. This would allow the teams to follow strict guidelines established by the league. While the teams could theoretically leave the league at any time, everyone knows they wouldn’t. In this way the league rules would apply, the NFL Draft would continue as is, as would free agency, and the real hurdle would then be how to pay out the television contracts and other profits generated.
All of that is my own thoughts and has nothing to do with the fact that the NFLPA, although now decertified, are acting as though they are still repping the players. As a “trade commission” they support the players interests as laborers as well as their rights, but nothing more. Considering that incoming freshman are not NFL employees and thus not NFL players, they have no “support” of those players and shouldn’t be telling anyone to not attend any NFL functions.
I wonder if the NFL will bring this up when they try and prove that the decertification was a sham in order to file litigation papers?
What I do know is this, no one knows anything about what is going to happen between now and April 6th or any day after that.