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Report: NFLPA telling players to prepare for 2-year strike

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In a report from ESPN, the of the NFLPA DeMaurice Smith stated the players will need to sit for 2 seasons if they choose to have a work stoppage

NFL: DEC 22 Steelers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano, NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith stated players need to prepare for a 2-year strike if they choose to go the route of a work stoppage for the 2021 season.

“I’m here with a group of people who are willing to take a labor action,” Smith told ESPN on Tuesday. “And people need to understand that it’s really easy to call for a work stoppage; it’s really hard to win one. So that’s why I started notifying players four years ago about saving their checks, making changes to their debt structure, and the reality is that if we want to hold out and get everything we want, that’s probably going to mean a two-year strike.”

While at first glance it appears the NFLPA is ready for a long work stoppage because they are key issues they feel need resolved, looking deeper it appears Smith’s warning may be more towards players who feel they need to strike for issues which may not be backbreaking to the negotiation process. In reality, most NFL players are not prepared to go two years without a paycheck. Therefore, this warning was probably more for the players as they go down this road rather than to owners or fans.

“Any collective bargaining deal is going to be a package of things,” Smith told ESPN. “Is it going to be an agreement where you get 100% of everything you want? Probably not, and one of the reasons that we’re in a position of bargaining right now is because the league didn’t get everything they wanted in 2011. If they would have retained the unilateral right to increase games, my guess is we wouldn’t be talking about the possibility of an early deal.”

One of the biggest issues with almost every Collective Bargaining Agreement is money. One main issue the players are looking for is a greater share of the revenue generated by the league. The owners, on the the hand, are looking to do more things to increase the revenue. The players would like to finally get to a 50-50 revenue split while the league is looking to increase the number of games in the regular season-schedule.

Graziano laid out the timeline for the NFLPA and the owners in coming to a new deal. The first step taken will be today when union reps meet.

The meeting Thursday will include player reps from 30 of the 32 teams — all but the 49ers and Chiefs, who are preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl. No vote is currently expected to be taken at that meeting, but the union hopes that everyone comes out of it with some idea of where things stand and what kind of action the players want to take going forward.

Whenever it is that players and owners agree on a proposed new CBA, the 32 team player reps would have to vote on it first, and it would need a two-thirds majority vote in order to advance to the next step. That next step is a vote of literally every single player in the league, and that would only require a simple majority to pass. The owners need two-thirds of their membership to support a new CBA before it can be ratified.

Assuming no vote is taken this week, the next likely flex point would be the NFLPA’s annual meeting in March in Key Biscayne. At that meeting the NFLPA will have to elect a new president, since current president Eric Winston is no longer on a team and therefore, according to the NFLPA’s rules, can no longer hold the position. In addition to that election, players likely will take some sort of CBA-related vote at their March meeting. Either they’d vote on a proposed new CBA or, if that’s not an option, they likely would hold a vote on whether to authorize a player strike in 2021 if no new deal is approved by then.

The good news is both sides are working together now in order to get a new deal in place. With restrictions on player’s contracts and other things affected by this being the last year of the current CBA, coming to a new deal would greatly benefit teams such as the Steelers. With the league wanting to add another game to the schedule, the NFLPA may not want a new CBA until after this season. Only time will tell if the two sides can come together sooner than later on an agreement. If the answer is later, players will have to decide if a work stoppage in 2021 is something they are willing to carry out long enough to be effective in receiving their demands without hurting player’s financial stability.

The full article by ESPN’s Dan Graziano can be seen here: