Last month, the NFL Players Association elected a new Executive Committee and president. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, they’re getting together for the next two days to meet with “high-ranking NFL officials.”
The purpose, as identified by Schefter, is to “emphasize the importance of player conduct” in the wake of the 2013 bullying scandal.
Labor meetings typically have a push and a pull, with one side wanting something and the other side wanting something else in return. Even when the thing one side wants helps the other side, the other side typically looks for something back. That’s just the way it works — even if at times it makes little sense. That could make it hard to make any progress regarding player behavior, since anything the league wants to do surely will be met by a request for the union for some other concession.
Moreover, it seems like more items should be on the agenda for a two-day meeting. The HGH issue inexplicably remains unresolved nearly three years after an agreement was reached to test, and the launch of offseason workouts highlights the current lose-lose scenario that keeps players from working as much as they may want to work in the offseason.
And how about the outdated rule that requires immediate funding of fully guaranteed salary and bonuses? Adopted at a time when the NFLPA had concerns about the ability of some teams to have the money to honor the commitment, there’s currently no question about the solvency of any NFL teams. And so NFL teams now often hide behind the funding obligation to avoid fully guaranteeing money beyond the first year of a contract.
Ditching the funding requirement would result in more players getting fully guaranteed money in the second and maybe third years of their contracts, preventing situations in which a player is dumped after a year or two, before money guaranteed for injury only becomes fully guaranteed.
Of course, to ditch the funding requirement, the league would want something in return.
The point of this post (if there is one) is that the NFL and the NFLPA have plenty of things to talk about that sweep far more broadly than a previously unprecedented bullying situation. The teams and the league already have the tools to discipline players who misbehave, and the teams and the league have the resources and motivation to properly educate players on what they can and can’t do. It would make much more sense to spend two days talking about issues in which bargaining could result in “side letters” to the CBA that would address issues that sweep far more broadly than the one situation in which a player had a bad reaction to one of the various jerks who pop up in most if not all locker rooms, at every level of every sport.
Maybe they’ll spend time on other issues. Either way, it’s hard to imagine two full days will be devoted to a topic on which the league already has the power that it needs to ensure better behavior in the future.