In what may trigger a bit of nostalgia, it’s almost somewhat nice to hear James Harrison rail against the NFL, the NFLPA, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement once again. Though he is now in retirement after over a decade and a half in the NFL, he remains in-tuned to what is going on in the league, and of course retains a number of relationships with current and former players and coaches.
Harrison, obviously, spent the bulk of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose players were the only team in the league to vote against ratifying the CBA that passed in 2011, which remains in effect through the 2020 season unless a new CBA is ratified between now and then.
He and some prominent current members on the roster believe players should vote no. Not because the current deal is not better than the previous one—though it can be argued that the 17-game season eliminates any other gains made—but because it’s simply not good enough.
In a Twitter message, Harrison even went so far as to say that “this deal shouldn’t have even been on the table”, and railed against NFLPA leadership, singling out DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the union, calling him “the same person who gave us that terrible deal in 2011”.
The @NFLPA has the WORST leadership under @DeSmithNFLPA! The same person who gave us that terrible deal in 2011 (@steelers voted no) just tried the same thing in 2020! This deal shouldn’t have even been on the table! Do what’s best for the players or go work for the @NFL! https://t.co/l4jCLTZfUu
— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) February 27, 2020
CBA negotiations the last time around were more rancorous than they currently are, though time will tell if that remains true. It will depend upon whether the union body votes to ratify the offer currently on the table, because if not, we could see things get very ugly.
The last time around did result in a brief lockout that bled into the training camp portion of the offseason and restricted or eliminated key parts of the spring and summer football calendar, but the players balked once it came time to put their money where the owners’ mouths were, facing the possibility of missing game checks.
The union is trying to better prepare for a potential work stoppage. They already have a fund that would pay all players $250,000 in the event of a lockout or strike, in addition to three years of residual checks from Madden NFL games, adding another $60,000 or so before taxes.
As I wrote about earlier today, some veterans who are particularly opposed to the CBA are also beginning to put together a separate, additional fund the make sure that all players would be taken care for in 2021 in the event of a work stoppage, which includes the Pouncey brothers.
The fear from these veterans is that the threat of missed checks and opportunities for the young players and those on the fringes of the roster will force them to ratify the CBA. Frankly, that’s still most likely to happen.
Luckily for Harrison, he won’t have to worry about playing even one game, let along 17.