The 2020 NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement is the first one in quite some time of which former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney was not a part. Upon his passing a few years ago, it was remarked by a number of integral figures in prior negotiations that he regularly played the role of bridge builder and peacekeeper during the often tense discussions.
It’s not clear what role his son, current Steelers president Art Rooney II, may have played during the past year in working out the latest CBA, formally approved yesterday, which will now run through the 2030 season and will be in place for the next 11 years.
These things often go unsaid while they are happening, though, and Rooney, like his father, is among the most respected owners in the league, even if he might not be as hands-on as his father was. He does conduct business somewhat differently from his father, but much else remains the same. He issued a statement yesterday about the CBA.
“We are excited to have come to terms with the NFLPA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that I believe is fair for the players, teams, and our fans”, he began. It is worth noting that, with nearly 2000 players voting, the union only approved the deal by about 60 votes in total. Even the owners did not unanimously vote to approve the deal.
“Many people worked very hard at finalizing this agreement”, he added, calling it “a win-win arrangement that will allow the NFL to continue to grow and provide significant increased benefits to both current and retired players”.
While there is no doubt that there were some gains made by players in important areas, the chief sticking point for most who voted against it was surely the non-negotiable addition of a 17th regular season game, which was a non-starter as far as issues go. The union was seemingly not allowed to respond with any similar ‘non-negotiable’ issue.
The beauty of all of this, though, is the fact that it no longer matters who has a problem with what on either side, in the sense that there is nothing either of them can do about it anymore for the next decade. There will be labor peace on the horizon during that time, barring something drastic and unforeseen.
That is all most fans care about. Like the typical customer at the butcher, they are not concerned with how the sausage is made. They just want to enjoy the finished product. That is our right as consumers, and neither side wants to air its dirty laundry unnecessarily, because it doesn’t look good for the league either way. But now, whatever reservations may linger, we now have a resolution, and can all move forward.