In November 2009, we posted that there were rumors flying that the players would stage a playoff strike.
Though we explained that a strike would be illegal and ill-advised and thus highly unlikely, the reaction to the mere suggestion of a playoff strike provoked a strong reaction.
“To be blunt, it’s a flat-out, bald-faced, capital-letters lie,” former Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas told Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports at the time. “We’re not the ones who are interested in not playing. We want to play. We’re not going on strike. We signed this agreement and we’re fine with it. We’re happy. We don’t want to stop playing football.”
The union declined to comment at the time on the situation, which made us wonder whether the union had assessed the situation and opted against a postseason walkout.
Now, a guy who played for the Giants in 2009 and who now works for ESPN has suggested in a series of tweets that players should “stand up” and walk out now, given that they possess maximum leverage. (Antonio Pierce has since claimed he did not “urge” players to strike, but we think his Twitter page speaks for itself.)
As we explained it in 2009, the Collective Bargaining Agreement plainly states that a strike by the players or a lockout by the owners is not permitted during the term of the deal. And since the deal currently lasts through the end of the current season, the players simply can’t refuse to work.
Any strike before March 4 would be illegal, and the players would face multi-million-dollar fines and damages awards, if the action ultimately were to disrupt the postseason and prevent playoff games from occurring. (The league has commented on the illegality of a playoff strike at NFLLabor.com.)
When we posted the prior item regarding talk of a 2009 playoff strike, we were accused by some of being irresponsible for merely mentioning that the possibility was being discussed. It’ll be interesting to see whether Pierce has to answer any tough questions within ESPN — the network that abandoned a fictional show about pro football when pressured by the league to do so — for recklessly, in our view, encouraging players to consider a blatantly illegal action.
But, hey, at least Pierce didn’t call anyone sweet cakes.