For months, one of the pre-asterisked NFLPA’s strategies for gaining leverage against a lockout came from generating political pressure. By lobbying Congress to squeeze the NFL via threats to its sacred broadcast antitrust exemption, the league in theory may have become less inclined to squeeze the players.
The tactic has not been effective, due in large part to gains made by the Republicans during the mid-term elections. Now, a former senator has argued that it’s time for Congress to get involved.
Arlen Specter, a long-time Republican who switched to the Democratic party in 2009 and lost his bid for re-election at the primary level in 2010, writes in an op-ed for the New York Times that Congress should force a resolution of the labor dispute. Specifically, Specter believes Congress should hinge the antitrust exemption upon the parties’ agreement to binding arbitration based on each side’s last, best offer. Under this approach, a third party would weigh the respective final offers, and choose one or the other.
The last 11 words from Specter, whose last involvement with the NFL involved extensive criticism of the league and the Patriots for the Spygate scandal, make the most sense; Specter concludes by pointing out that “even the mere threat of such legislation might induce a settlement.” But with all signs currently pointing to the strong possibility of a settlement, it’s still too early for Congress to become involved.
If/when the current talks disintegrate, it may be time for Specter’s suggestion to gain some steam.