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Union believes overtime changes are a subject for bargaining

During the Q&A period of last Wednesday’s conference call with Competition Committe co-chair Rich McKay, a certain Internet hack with whom you might be acquainted posed the following questions regarding the proposed changes to the overtime procedure: “Has the union signed off on it?  If not, will union approval be sought before this will be finalized?”

Said McKay in response:  “No.  What we do, when we meet with the NFL Players Association, we tell them what’s on our plate.  That’s on about the third day in Indianapolis [during the Scouting Combine].   So it’s not like we’ve sat there and written down all our proposals and what they will look like.  We will send them our proposals.  They don’t traditionally vote or have a vote.
But I will say this.  They usually have input.

“In this case I will be quite frank,” McKay added.  “The players have always said to us consistently over probably the last five to six years, ‘Overtime works well, sudden death is a good way to go.’  For this one, it’s not like we spent a lot time with them saying we still believe this proposal is sudden death, it’s just modified in a certain way.
But the game can still end on one play at any time.  But I would say to you that players traditionally have thought, as a lot of coaches have thought, the system works okay.  It’s sudden death.   It works okay.   Let’s keep it as it is.
We will send them this proposal.   If we hear any feedback, we’ll obviously listen to it and tell the membership what it is.”

But here’s the catch.  NFLPA Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs George Atallah told us this afternoon via e-mail (in what our friend Richard Deitsch of SI.com might agree was an “exclusive interview“) that the union believes the question of lengthening games via modified overtime must be cleared with the players.

“We believe the OT proposal needs to be bargained,” Atallah said.  “Obviously,
I expect that they [the owners] don’t.”

Generally speaking, labor law requires the parties to bargain over work rules that have a direct impact on the terms and conditions of employment.  Since the proposed overtime change potentially extends work hours during postseason games, it appears to us at first blush that the union is right.

This means that, before implementing the rule, the NFL and the union would have to reach an agreement.  If, as McKay said, the players don’t want the current procedure to change, the NFL would be required to give them something in return, such as more money for postseason games.

This potential complication could be enough to kill a proposal that already seems to be wobbling.  Then again, it’s also possible that the union’s opposition to the move could, given the current climate, galvanize the owners to push for change — and to force the union to fight.

Though we badly want to see the overtime rule change, we actually prefer in this instance that the league find a way to avoid this battle, and to focus instead on securing permission to expand overtime in 2011, as part of the new CBA.

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12 Responses to “Union believes overtime changes are a subject for bargaining”
  1. Caldon says: Mar 22, 2010 3:59 PM

    Since the proposed overtime change potentially extends work hours during postseason games, it appears to us at first blush that the union is right.
    ———–
    The players are already commited to up to a full quarter of additional plays under the current rules (15 mins). The proposed rule adjustments do not change that committment, there is still only a max of 15 additional mins that can be played. This does not extend work hours at all. Therefore, they do not have a leg to stand on using this argument.

  2. budman999 says: Mar 22, 2010 4:20 PM

    There would be no extra time. there is already a 15 minute overtime period,thus there would not be any extra time to be negotiated.Also in overtime the first team would obviosly have to punt on 4th down if they were not in fg range,if they kick a fg the other team would always have 4 downs to get 1st downs and try to tie or win the game.does this really seem fair?

  3. I didn't hear no bell. says: Mar 22, 2010 4:20 PM

    Really? The Union is going to use this as a bargaining chip? So much for playing for the love of the game.
    In addition, I’d love to see all these football players experience what life is like when they’re not earning the money they do in the league. I say it’d be a real humbling experience.

  4. DFWXpress says: Mar 22, 2010 4:22 PM

    Why is anytime owners want to scratch their jock itch the players want to include it with the labor agreement?
    They are losing what made this a great league to follow.

  5. Gautam says: Mar 22, 2010 4:32 PM

    can somebody please explain to me how this is different from the current scenario ? The players have already agreed to 15 or more minutes of overtime, how is this different from earlier ?

  6. ChunkyAssVomit says: Mar 22, 2010 4:34 PM

    One of these days the Players Union is just going to go away.
    Owners are going to say “if you want to play, here are the terms (and tens of millions of dollars), if not, we’ll find someone else who will.
    Players Unions are outdated business models… and if their is protracted strike or lockout, many people will see that the game is really all about the money, and not the games.
    I’m already tired of the carping and crying on both sides.

  7. jbraider says: Mar 22, 2010 4:35 PM

    The players are already commited to up to a full quarter of additional plays under the current rules (15 mins). The proposed rule adjustments do not change that committment, there is still only a max of 15 additional mins that can be played. This does not extend work hours at all. Therefore, they do not have a leg to stand on using this argument.
    ___________
    You could not be more wrong.
    The fact that a football game, and an overtime period are defined in terms of minutes is irrelevant. A football minute is not a real minute, football players do not punch a timeclock nor are they paid by the hour. There responsibility under the CBA is to play until the game is over. Any change that impacts the level of effort they are responsible for represents a change to the terms of the contract.
    The players’ responsibilities in overtime play is a pseudo-random quantity. It can only be expressed as an expected value (mean) with some probability distribution. The league’s proposal would uniformly increase the mean / distribution and therefore is a change to the terms of the contract.

  8. Curran says: Mar 22, 2010 4:37 PM

    Caldon –The maximum is the same, however, the minimum potentially increases tremendously. Leveraging this stance, they do have a leg to stand on because the minimum amount of overtime played theoretically now increases under current rules.

  9. Renoberger says: Mar 22, 2010 5:15 PM

    This rule would possibly lengthen a game substantially. A FG ends a game now, but with the proposed rule another field goal wold continue tha game. So you have at least one extra drive, and with another FG, who knows how many more drives. Since it is the players getting injured, not the coaches, owners, writers or fans, they should have a say. Especially since this rule change is a B league gimmick rule change.
    Move the kick-off to the 40, deal done.

  10. edgy1957 says: Mar 22, 2010 6:18 PM

    Ok, so some of you guys believe that there’s no extra time. Well, try this one on for size: you’re wrong. Under the current rules, if a team scores, the game is over but NOT under the proposed rules and if both teams end up being tied after exchanging a couple of field goals or even a couple of touchdowns, the game goes on and on and on and …..

  11. 8man says: Mar 22, 2010 6:35 PM

    I’m sure the players the NFL replaces these union guys with won’t mind playing in overtime.
    Even the overpaid baseball players don’t complain about extra innings.
    Don’t bargain. Fire them all and start over. There are enough colleges and universities to field all the rosters.

  12. Tom Shannon says: Mar 23, 2010 8:12 AM

    This shouldn’t be a subject for negotiation. The CBA negotiations are complicated enough as it is. If its a matter of tweaking the proposal, OK. If its a matter of making concessions, forget it.
    The players (as individuals) are competitive and they want a fair game. They have the same interest in changing the rule that the league does. If they don’t think the change is worth the risk of lengthening the games, then as an owner, you don’t vote for it, period. I’m sure any resistance by the union will kill the proposal not just this year but for as long as that resistance lasts. Its just not worth the trouble nor is it important enough to give anything up for.

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