Labor peace continues to be a relative term.
While there will be no strike or lockout for at least another nine years, the NFL and the NFL Players Association continue to enjoy a relationship only slightly cozier than Kennedy and Khrushchev.
The union believes that a unilateral change in the equipment requirements constitutes an adjustment to working conditions, for which bargaining would be required.
Part of the problem is that the NFLPA contends the league hasn’t provided “firm data” to show that wearing leg pads would decrease injuries. (It’s unclear what “firm data” would be required other than “common sense.” Or maybe someone from the union could take a padded knee to a padded right thigh, followed immediately by a bare knee to a bare left thigh.)
It could be that the union is resisting in order to secure some other concession in return. As a result, the NFL would have been wise to ask for permission to make the leg pads mandatory back in March, when the union was scrambling to ensure that the 2012 salary cap would increase over 2011.