We’ve heard from time to time over the past several weeks that some within the union power structure actually want the owners to lock out the players. But we’ve refrained from posting on it because it all sounded a little far-fetched (like, you know, the plot of Quarterback of the Future).
But in the wake of David Cornwell’s item from last week regarding his belief that the NFL’s plan isn’t to lock out the players but to impose unilaterally new work rules and then force the players to accept those rules and strike, a source with knowledge of the situation tells us that Cornwell’s article “caused a stir” at the union — and that some in the union believe that long-time outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler wants to force a lockout.
If the owners lock out the players, the union would then be in position to attempt to wreak havoc through the political connections of Executive Director De Smith, who already has suggested mutually harmful strategies like attacking the NFL’s broadcasting antitrust exemption and the tax-exempt status of the league office.
The thinking is that the union will get the best possible deal only with that kind of leverage, and that leverage of that kind will come only if the owners padlock the gates.
Implicit in this mindset is a belief within the union that a strike in the face of unilaterally-imposed work rules would fail, just as the 1982 and 1987 strikes failed.
A union source who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue strongly doubted the accuracy of the allegation. And the source reiterated he contention that the NFL has hired Bob Batterman, who orchestrated the NHL lockout and who is deeply involved in a possible MLS lockout.
We still believe firmly that the ultimate goal should be to get a deal done — and for the league and the union to behave more like partners and less like enemies. Maybe the best way to make that happen in the short term would involve the union asking Kessler to step aside and the league parting ways with Batterman. We know it won’t happen but, hey, we can dream, too.