Buy Or Sell: Both NFL And NFLPA ‘Won’ In Return-To-Play Protocol Negotiations

NFL, NFLPA logos

The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.

That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.

Topic Statement: Both the NFL and the NFLPA ‘won’ the return-to-play negotiation process as it pertains to their plans to play amid a viral pandemic.

Explanation: We live in a society that tries to make us pick ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ about seemingly just about everything. Every trade, every deal, every roster move has a winner and a loser. The CBA talks are always framed that way, and the NFLPA is often seen as the losers. Have they lost this time? Or won? Have they drawn even?


I call back to what one representative of the NFLPA said after it was revealed that the NFL agreed that there would be no preseason. He said, in so many words, that nobody caved to anybody. Rather, both parties had to cave to the virus.

Yes, it seems like the NFLPA got some major concessions, highlighted by the fact that there won’t be a preseason this year. Perhaps this is one issue that they won on. But it’s also something that felt inevitable, with the alternative being impractical.

Generally speaking, many of the key points here have been mutually beneficial, such as the creation of the reserve/Covid-19 list. Both sides should have wanted this. The opt-out plans are also pretty straightforwardly simple, though I imagine the NFLPA would have wanted a longer deadline.


It was being reported for weeks that the NFL was resolute on playing two preseason games. But NFLPA embarked on a messaging campaign, including a number of prominent players taking to social media to get their point across…and then suddenly some of the major dominoes started to fall their way.

On the other hand, as significant as some of the issues were, most of them were obvious. The NFL still has the upper hand as far as economics goes, as they will essentially dictate what the salary cap will look like for the next several years, which could result in the suppression of play salaries, both at the top end and for the ‘middle class’ of the NFL.

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