While players often sent inconsistent messages regarding their views on replacement officials, the NFL Players Association was clear and unambiguous. The union didn’t want replacements, and the union wanted the regular officials to be returned to duty.
Now that the lockout is over, the NFLPA has rolled out the green carpet for the men in black and white. “Our workplace is safer with the return of our professional referees,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “We welcome our fellow Union members back on our field.”
And here’s the part where we tell it like it is, as we sometimes do. The NFLPA did little to bring about the end of this lockout. Yes, letters were sent and statements were issued, but it was all talk. And it gained no traction.
At a time when the NFLPA has become as litigious as an union in America, why didn’t the NFLPA file a grievance under the CBA or a federal lawsuit or a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board?
While a strike never would have happened, the union could have organized a more sustained outcry from high-profile players. Instead, men like Tom Brady — one of the plaintiff’s in last year’s collusion lawsuit — consistently has shrugged at the presence of less-than-stellar officials.
We agree with many of the things the NFLPA is doing, and we believe that, as the NFL grows richer and more powerful, it’s important for the union and others to provide real checks and balances. In this case, however, the NFLPA could have done more and should have done it sooner.
Who knows? With the right amount of pressure being applied to the situation, the lockout could have been ended before Monday night, when long-term damage was inflicted on the shield.