The NFLPA has “renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League.” So what does that mean?It means the players can no longer collectively bargain. (Sorry, Wisconsin!) They are merely a trade association at the mercy of the NFL.
So league has a couple of options. The CBA expires at midnight, at which point they can continue to operate under the current rules. (Not going to happen.) Another option is to unilaterally impose their last negotiating offer. (Unlikely, since they didn’t really want to offer that in the first place.)
Or they can impose a lockout and block the players from working. This is what is most likely to happen. At that point, individual players can file an anti-trust lawsuit (it may have already happened), asking a judge to block the lockout on the grounds that the NFL is operating an unfair monopoly. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and several other stars have already agreed to take the lead in any such lawsuits. (A union cannot file such claims, that’s why they had to decertify.)
At that point, almost anything is possible. If a judge sides with the union, the court can block a lockout and possibly force the 2011 season to be played under the current rules.) They could rule in favour of the league and force the union back to the table. Any number of motions, injections, and court orders could be issued over the next few months … but they will come from the courts.
In the meantime, the business of the NFL stops. No free agency. No trades. No regulation of agents. No offseason practices. No film sessions. No playbooks. The Draft will happen, but teams won’t be able to sign their players. Office workers and assistant coaches will be laid off or take pay cuts. Everything stop until this is solved.
The bottom line is that neither side believed that the other was negotiating in good faith, and both believed that a work stoppage is exactly what the other side wanted. It was the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy.
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