On Tuesday night, we caught wind of rumors that frustrations regarding the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before the start of the uncapped year in March 2010 were giving rise to talk of a players strike for the playoffs.
When acknowledging the rumors, we also pointed out that it could never happen, due to a clear term in the CBA preventing a strike by the players or a lockout by the owners prior to the expiration of the contract that both sides signed.
On Wednesday, Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas denied, strongly, that there has been talk of a postseason strike.
“To be blunt, it’s a flat-out, bald-faced, capital-letters lie,” Thomas told Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports. “We’re not the ones who are
interested in not playing. We want to play. We’re not going on strike.
We signed this agreement and we’re fine with
it. We’re happy. We don’t want to stop playing football.”
With all due respect, Adalius, it’s not a “flat-out, bald-faced, capital-letters lie.” Or any other type of lie. The rumor exists. We heard it from a league source who has connections with many players, teams, agents, and — yes — the union.
Speaking of the union, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah declined to respond to Cole’s request for comment on the rumors of a playoff strike. And, frankly, that’s disappointing. All Atallah had to say was, “We fully intend to honor our contractual commitments.” [Editor's note: To make it clear, Atallah didn't actually say this. He just should have.] His reluctance to say anything about the situation makes us wonder whether he feared a follow-up question that might have forced him to admit that, yes, all options have been considered and that, indeed, the possibility of a postseason walkout was discussed, but ultimately rejected.
So, as we had hoped, this rumor will apparently die a quick death. But Thomas’ words shed further light on the leverage that the owners possess in this situation.
“You play the entire season to get to
the playoffs,” Thomas told Cole. “That’s when, as a player, you want to play the most. You
want to go to the Super Bowl and you have four weeks to get there. You
think we want to stop that? That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”
In other words, the players want to play NFL football — and the only way they can play NFL football is if the owners let them play NFL football. As of 2011, the only way that’ll happen is if the players accept whatever deal the owners are willing to give them.