Deadline Closes In On Eve Of Lockout


UDPATE 1: The NFLPA and the NFL have begun negotiations today.  The NFLPA was not in attendance this morning.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Tonight we were all supposed to be sitting around our computers, radios, and TV’s awaiting the first word on who would be the first free agent signed by any team.  Then who would be the first to be signed by the Dolphins.  And so on and so on and so on.  Instead, we all may simply go to bed early and wake up tomorrow wondering if there will be a football season at all.  Let alone a free agent period.

The deadline for the current collective bargaining agreement is here.  At 12:01 am tomorrow, there is no agreement unless both sides agree to a deadline extension.  The question then becomes will the NFL lockout the players?

Before that happens, the NFLPA will need to make a decision on their own side of the table.  Whether or not to decertify.  The NFLPA has until 6:00 eastern time, 5:00 pm central time to make that decision.  After 5:00 central, Minnesota judge David S. Doty of the US District Courts will no longer have jurisdiction over the NFL and the NFLPA as his time with the current CBA will expire.  If a deal is in place before then, Judge Doty will continue to hold sway over legal matters until the expiration of the next contract.  The NFL does not want Doty overseeing anything, so no deal will be announced before 5 central.

So what happens if the NFLPA decides to decertify?  Continue reading for the steps that could take place throughout the day and tonight.

The stages of progression today are quite simple compared to the rhetoric of the last few weeks and in fact the last two years.  The few remaining owners in Washington, D.C. are meeting with the federal mediator alone.  The NFLPA reps are back at their offices awaiting word to join them.  Something that is not expected to happen until later.

We all know that at the heart of this mess are three things critical to the negotiations. A:  The owners want more of the 9 billion dollar profits, B:  The owners want an 18 game schedule, and C:  The owners want a rookie wage scale.  We also know that the NFLPA wants, A:  To not give up more money to the owners from that 9 billion, B:  a better retirement system in place for players, C:  no 18 games schedule, D:  are flexible on the rookie wage scale.

So while they banter back and forth making what many believe is little or no progress, the questions to decertify and/or lockout come into play.

If the NFLPA does not decertify they can in another 6 months.  That however will have no bearing on keeping the owners from locking out the players.  If the NFLPA stays a union, they will be able to continue negotiations.  If they decertify it goes to court as there are federal anti-trust laws in place that would not allow the NFL teams to operate in a collusion type manner.  The question of whether or not the 32 NFL teams are considered independent businesses instead of one business is the main key to that question.

If the NFLPA decides to decertify, then football will likely continue as usual but without free agency in all likelihood while the whole labor discord is sorted out in court.

Another interesting tidbit on the decision to decertify, according to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel, a decision to decertify would immediately render all player contracts with agents voided.  Imagine the chaos that would cause.

At midnight tonight, the CBA expires and depending on what happens with the NFLPA’s decision to decertify, the owners will have a choice.  Lockout the players or not lock them out.

If the owners lockout the players then they will hold the key to whether or not there is or is not football.  They can keep the players locked out until they get the deal they want or start losing money.  It’s also a good bet that negotiations between the two sides would come to a screeching halt until late summer.

In the event of a lockout, players will have no contact with NFL teams.  They can not get medical treatment at team facilities (but doctors can still see them outside of the facility), they will not have insurance (one players wife induced labor two days ago to avoid having to pay for the bills).

The events of today are simple:

5:00 central 6:00 eastern:  The NFLPA needs to decide whether to decertify (taking note that the NFL will not make an agreement until after that to rid US District Court Judge David Doty of his duties over the league business).

At 5:01 central Doty is out of the picture and the clock begins to tick down to mid-night IF the NFLPA stays intact.

Midnight – The NFL owners will make a decision to lockout the players and in all likelihood end negotiations until later this summer.

Tomorrow – we can all expect one of three outcomes.  1:  The players are locked out.  2:  The NFLPA has chosen to decertify (we’ll know that today).  3:  The two sides have agreed to some type of extension.  Know this.  In the event of an extension, the NFLPA can not decertify but the owners can impose a lockout if the extension is made after 5:00 central time.

All of this means one thing.  The 2011 off-season hangs in the decision of a bunch of people arguing over billions of dollars.