De Smith: Lockout or strike in 2021 is “almost a virtual certainty”

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Four seasons remain under the current labor deal, but the drums of labor war already are beating.

“I think that the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout in 2021 is almost a virtual certainty,” NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith recently told Albert Breer in a video posted at SI.com.

There can be a lockout without games being forfeited; that’s what happened in 2011. So will there be games missed if there’s a work stoppage in 2021?

“I don’t know now, but let’s look at our history,” Smith said. “The owners do a deal in 2006 and opt out in 2008. We do a deal in 2011 with no opt outs because we like the benefits under the current deal and we didn’t want to give the owners a chance to opt out and take back the gains that we currently have. . . . So we have a new deal where if it doesn’t get fixed you head into a certain small-A armageddon.”

In many respects, the situation will be influenced by whether the owners seek to make gains, whether the players seek to make gains, or both. It’s possible that the owners, who complained incessantly about the 2006 deal and never say a peep about the current deal (and all that that implies), will be playing defense in 2021, content to continue under the current terms and daring the players to strike.

Ultimately the question could be whether the players would miss game checks. Many believe that ship sailed for good in 1987, when the use of replacement players caused the players to crater after only a few weeks. The last major work stoppage came in 1982. That year, a strike reduced the regular season to nine games.

If the players are going to strike in 2021, those who will still be in the league need to save their money, and the union needs to have a plan to provide revenue for future players who currently are in college or high school. Above all else, the players need to be willing to go without football.

The best litmus test for the will to strike in the future could be an effort to boycott on a mass basis the voluntary portion of the offseason program. While players with significant workout bonuses may not be inclined to stay away, if enough players skip OTAs to make the session essentially meaningless, that would provide ownership with a capital-W warning shot for what may come in time.

40 responses to “De Smith: Lockout or strike in 2021 is “almost a virtual certainty”

  1. Good to know he has an open outlook. I’m in a teacher’s union and every time we have negotiations our leaders are optimistic. The big difference between them and MeMaurice is that they actually want to strike a deal.

  2. I hope they walk. I also hope fans waken up and say I’ll watch another sport. Between the greed and self entitlement by the players and the owners, time to get smart and not support the NFL. These players continue to show the world they have no accountability or reasonability off the field with some of their actions. None of them live the in the real work world, yet this head of union and some of these player cry cry cry. I stopped watching baseball when they decided to strike, I can watch something else. Why continue to pay what it cost to go to an NFL game. With all the rules and stoppage of play it has lost it excitement. Now the players want to use the field for their own political agenda, who cares. Fantasy leagues can be done for any sport, when actually that is the only interest many fans have in games.

  3. I wonder if owners will instruct GM’s to pay players a large bonus if they attend off season workouts in 2021, just to make many of the players not want to strike.

  4. I can’t think of a sports union that has poorer leadership than the NFLPA.

    Their may be a lock out but I can guarantee you, the owners will not be the ones hurt the most. Either by lock out or future contract.

    They have generational wealth. Players, at best, are simply rich (there is a difference). 32 owners that have to be of the same mind vs how many competing interests and financial situations in the NFLPA? 1700? Good luck. 1/2 the teams can’t even get 11 guys to play together at any given time on the field, how’s the union going to get 1700 guys to be solid?

    Not happening.

    Strike, lock out etc – players will learn (again) that the fans enjoy the sport much more than they enjoy any individual player. That’s why fans are generational, not seasonal.

  5. A strike on 2021 would make 2020 the least year I watch NFL football and it probably is a certainty since they want NBA contracts.

  6. As a life long Union man, I support the players in a strike. Those suggesting the players are greedy don’t see the big picture. Players are entitled to collectively bargain for a fair contract. The NFL is the richest sport in the history of the world. The players, putting their bodies and lives on the line, should have a fair share of NFL profits.

  7. Awesome. One of the few things in my life that keep me going, and they already know that they arent capable of settling things in the next four years. Thanks guys.

  8. I hope they do go on strike. And I hope it lasts for at least a whole season. I want the players to lose millions and the owners to lose millions and the tv networks to decide that they’re not forking over billions to this league anymore.
    What I’d really love to see though, is the fans go on strike. Send a message to the owners and players that we aren’t going to stand for being gouged anymore. Send a message that you all make way too much money and you make us pay way too much money to see these games. And send a message that we’re sick and tired of players acting like jerks on and off the field and using their status as an NFL player to promote their political agendas.
    But I realize it’s only a dream of mine that will never come true. The fans are too cowardly to ever take a stand to make it better for themselves. The sad part is, the fans have all the leverage. Everything the NFL gets is because of the fans. Without the fans, the NFL’s revenue drops like the Hindenburg. But even if the players go on strike or the owners lock them out, as soon as they resume playing the games, the fans will march into the stadium like rats off a ship filling the stadiums again.
    I have already stopped going to the games and I refuse to buy any NFL merchandise. It’s my way of trying to have a small impact on them. If I could get even half of all the NFL fans to join me, it would be like a lightning bolt striking the owners and players. But there’s a better chance of the Jets winning the Super Bowl than that happening.

  9. The way so many of these players pizz away their money they’d better start saving first thing tomorrow. That is as long as Maurice Smith doesn’t sell them out.

  10. Why would 60% of the league that is making the minimum and isn’t guaranteed more than 10 to 50 game checks risk a single check so a guy like Richard Sherman can make 25 million a year instead of 15 million?

  11. The way so many of today’s players throw away their money they’d better start saving first thing tomorrow. That’s if impeddy dimp hat wearing Maurice Smith doesn’t sell them out again.

  12. There won’t any NBA contracts in the NFL. Dee Smith is a completely worthless tool, and he’ll get run over again. Many, if not most NFL players, are foolish and fart away millions of dollars. They are afraid of missing their next paycheck, and they don’t save much of their easily earned wealth. Since their next best career options are carrying furniture or working security at da’ club, they’ll fold like a house of cards when the NFL locks them out. Word.

  13. I really thought they would stay out until October in 2011, they really expected a bad deal. Start with Goodell’s powers to suspend anyone he wants too. Also go after the franchise tag. Ask for a bigger percentage of revenues. Don’t be pushed around.

  14. The Players will lose and be out of a job and people will not support players that make more in a season than most fans make in 5 yrs
    The Owners will lose but still be billionaires
    The Fans will lose and just go to work everyday like always
    and more and more people will find other things to do
    Bottom line is if the head of the Union is calling for a strike…..he loses too

    Nobody wins in a strike/lockout……Nobody

  15. I would guess that half the players who would be in the league in 2021 are currently in college or even high school. Good luck getting those guys to strike, who are barely on their rookie contracts or who have yet to sign an NFL contract.

  16. Tired of hearing this in every story:
    and the union needs to have a plan to provide revenue for future players who currently are in college or high school.

    Are they planning to strike for five years? If you get to the NFL in 2020 I think one year of even the minimum salary–close to half a million bucks–should be sufficient to last you for two or maybe SHOCKER three years (or ten for some fans) and they know the storm is coming. IF you get drafted in 2021, get a signing bonus! Fast! There aren’t going to be a thousand starving new guys, to even think a hundred is to say every pick in the first three rounds. 50 grand a piece for a hundred guys is only 5 million bucks, at 50 guys per team and 32 teams, it sure ain’t much per guy–maybe 3 or 4 grand–less than the fines they get for wearing their socks on the wrong feet. And that’s if they feel they need to hand out cash to draft picks for a whole season.

  17. If Goodell isn’t neutered in the next CBA the players will officially deserve what they get.

    Normally I’m the last person to support a strike but in this case it’s the only way player discipline will ever get fixed. I’m not entirely in love with the mess that is on TV every week either so …

  18. Now the NFL owners know they have to start preparing for a long strike that will help no one. Why don’t you give away your game plan and any fan support in advance, clown.

  19. If the union makes the claim for more cash, it will ring hollow with the fans. Sorry, a 21 year old making millions is difficult for most folks to feel sorry for.
    But the players could make a case that the owners have played loose with safety concerns and that might stick. The owners will try again for 18 game season. I can’t imagine playing 18 regular season games THEN the playoffs.

    The owners biggest ripoff is preseason games. Maximum money to watch practice.

  20. officialgame says:
    August 18, 2017 at 6:46 am
    Now the NFL owners know they have to start preparing for a long strike that will help no one. Why don’t you give away your game plan and any fan support in advance, clown.
    ==========================
    All the union has to do is make player discipline their highest talking point and the majority fans should understand why they are walking out. Goodell isn’t smart enough to cede power and once again it will be his fault.

  21. By 2021, the way things are going on both sides, possibly a great many fans won’t give a darn if there is no football for a while. They should be talking and negotiation now, and in fact possibly even considering entering into a new agreement earlier for their mutual benefit. But that sure won’t happen.

  22. If the players are going to strike in 2021, the fans should strike in 2020. Pick one week in the middle of the 2020 season and just stay home. Walk the dog, clean the house, go to a movie, read a book, go out and help someone campaign.

    The national election in 2020 is going to be held on Tuesday November 3. Both the players and the owners are counting on us fans to act like sheep while they act like idiots and play out their little games, mainly because we always have before.

    Let’s not do it this time – Sunday October 25 can be stay at home day.

  23. The reason the NFLPA is the weakest union in professional sports is due to the Superstars making too much and the majority not making enough. There is such a wide divide in their salaries the superstars simply won’t give up the money by striking; that coupled with football players notoriously spending every penny they have makes a long strike an impossibility.Unless the union provides the necessary funds for the players to live on, any strike will be short lived. The NFLPA has always been a “ME” union not a “WE” union.

  24. laffers says:
    August 18, 2017 at 7:49 am
    The reason the NFLPA is the weakest union in professional sports is due to the Superstars making too much and the majority not making enough. There is such a wide divide in their salaries the superstars simply won’t give up the money by striking; that coupled with football players notoriously spending every penny they have makes a long strike an impossibility.Unless the union provides the necessary funds for the players to live on, any strike will be short lived. The NFLPA has always been a “ME” union not a “WE” union.
    ========================
    Even the teamsters union offer a pittance for strike pay. Strike pay isn’t the answer either. The problem is two fold. Players won’t save money in the event of a strike and players won’t go out and get a job in the event they need to. It comes down to having the resolution to not get paid in order to get what you want long term.

  25. at what % of the revenue split would the NFLPA consider fair? They get 50% of all the revenue already, anything more is just downright greedy and the owners should be willing to fire every single player and find replacement players so not a single game is missed. These players are EASILY replaceable, but the infrastructure of the 32 individual teams is not. We all know who will eventually blink first- the broke players who spent all their cash

  26. Well if they go on strike…. especially after they just did a collective bargaining agreement that was ugly….I think Im going to be done with football. I know the strike killed my love for baseball…I still check standings for my old team….but I can’t name any of the players on there anymore. The money, the whining, the toning down the game, the teams moving all over the place…. NFL is starting to feel morally wrong to enjoy….a strike will be the dagger to me.

  27. The 50% share players get is not fair. Considering owners have fewer expenses compared to other leagurs such as ZERO minor league development plus the amount of players per team, the players should in reality be in the 60-65% range.
    However if that was the case, the extra money shared would probably go to the higher profile guys plus the bottom end guys would blow all their money no matter how much more they make, just like most people in the real world who can’t budget……………..
    Hey, lets go to the club and casino, I need that new larger TV, I’m too tired let’s eat out (7 days a week), I can afford it cause there’s always another check coming!

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