NFL, NFLPA Issue Joint Statement On Status OF CBA Negotiations

All too frequently these days, the fans of football are reminded that the game is ultimately a business. Even though some might say it, I’m pretty confident that very few if any of these players would still be playing for free. Not that there’s anything wrong with that or that anything else should be expected.

The point is, the existence of the NFL is tenuous and depends upon the stability of a number of business agreements and the ability of multiple parties to uphold their responsibilities within those agreements. We just saw with the collapse of the Alliance of American Football how precarious things can be.

In the National Football League, the most crucial document that keeps the whole tent from falling into itself is the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the current one is set to expire in 2011. The last time the NFL and the NFLPA had to iron out the details of an agreement, which lasted 10 years, we had an uncapped year followed by a lockout the year after. 11th-hour intervention prevented it from bleeding into the season.

So it’s a pretty big deal that the next CBA is around the corner. And both sides have already offered some fiery language about the future negotiations, particularly on the NFLPA’s behalf, whose constituents feel that they gave up too much the last time around.

A hopeful step in the right direction was taken yesterday in which the two parties jointly issued a statement regarding the status of negotiations, which reads as follows:

“Today, the members of the NFL’s Management Council and the NFLPA’s Executive Committee met to discuss negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The League and the Union have committed to meet regularly in the coming months, which will involve staff, NFL leadership, members of the NFLPA Executive Committee and Player Representatives”.

That’s not a lot to sink your teeth into, but it’s significant at least that they are initiating the process now, because, well…the sooner the better. There are some major issues that are going to have to be addressed in the next CBA, including but not limited to the league’s drug policy, coaching access to players in the offseason, and the power of the commissioner, particularly as it comes to discipline.

None of this is going to prevent negotiations from getting tense, from dialogue from faltering and even pausing, and even potentially for it to drag into a future season, preventing games from being played. This figures to be one of the more contentious CBA negotiations in a few cycles, so nobody should expect a clean and tidy process.

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