Why would NFL, NFLPA pull the plug on three days of CBA talks?

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A three-day collective bargaining session set for this week suddenly became a one-day event, capped by a nothing-to-see-here joint statement from the NFL and the NFL Players Association calling the meeting “productive, constructive, and beneficial” for both sides (it always sound better with three adjectives).

Let’s think about that one for a second. The two sides set aside three days for the purposes of chipping away at a mountain of issues between management and labor, but they abruptly pressed pause during the first day on supposedly “productive, constructive, and beneficial” talks, interrupting an apparently positive vibe while waiting 12 days to resume.

It makes no sense, and it makes me wonder what’s really going on.

Here’s a theory/hypothesis/whatever: The initial three CBA sessions from April through June were about establishing a positive tone and perhaps kicking around some ideas (like 18 games with a 16-game per-player limit), creating the impression that everyone is getting along. Then came Wednesday’s session, when for the first time the league and the union got down to business on the biggest issues, like the overall revenue split (the most important issue) and the bigger-than-most-in-the-media-realize concept of stadium credits (which necessarily impacts the revenue split by taking money off the top).

If they were truly making progress on these key issues, wouldn’t they keep going? And if the truth is (as it may be) that they quickly realized a brick wall was looming, would it make sense to pull the plug before things got ugly, pretend that the positive vibe still exists, and then retreat to their respective corners to figure out how to proceed on July 29, when the interpersonal dynamics necessarily will be streamlined by the absence of members of the NFLPA Executive Committee who will be at training camp?

That’s my guess as to what happened. Those initial three sessions were all about preemptively taking the heat out of the kitchen before the kitchen could get hot, and now there’s a mutual sense that the temperature is starting to increase.

If my guess is right (and everyone once in a while one of my guesses is), it shouldn’t surprise anyone. CBA talks always entail a certain amount of animosity, pain, and strife. In this case, it’s fair to wonder whether the NFL and NFLPA have decided to shield the public from potential ugliness that helps no one, as the parties try to work out a new deal while acting like everything is working perfectly well.

It’s an ambitious goal, if that’s indeed the goal. Too ambitious. Because it’s obvious that, even though the NFL couches a new labor deal as an “extension” of the current one, it’s not nearly as simple as both sides agreeing that everything is working and that they should recommit for another eight to 10 years.

The NFL will want to make significant changes to the 2011 CBA, and the NFLPA will want to make significant changes to it as well. At some point, there’s a battle that will need to be engaged or the talks never will be resolved. That first battle may be coming on July 29 . . . even if after a knock-down-drag-out encounter the two sides stagger out of the room like Balboa and Creed and claim that they were merely running on the beach.

41 responses to “Why would NFL, NFLPA pull the plug on three days of CBA talks?

  1. Haven’t heard any alarm bells from the union about putting away funds for a shutout so maybe they are closer than anyone thinks. That being said the league has always had the upper hand in these deals…

  2. Maybe because there is no rush and they can conclude that it is good enough for now. I think it’s a positive

  3. DeMaurice Smith wants a strike. So he and his crew will try to convince the rank and file a strike is warranted. That will require them thinking the issues are worth it and that they can win with a strike. Good luck with that.

  4. This far out, there’s no incentive for the league to be fair and no reason for the players to concede anything. It’ll be done when it has to be done.

  5. Maybe the NFLPA realized the league trying to ram a new agreement down their throat before it could be properly studied to find where the owners were screwing them did not make sense to agree to.

    In no other business for example do the employees help pay for the building they work in. The owners realizing that public money is drying up and nobody wants welfare for billionaires, so now they’re trying to screw the players into paying should be totally unacceptable to the NFLPA.

  6. Wouldn’t the talks also have been postponed if the NFL negotiators put a detailed plan on the table that required input from the team representatives? With training camps opening it would be imperative to get the material into the hands of the representatives before they became inundated with preparations for the season. The NFLPA would also need time to digest the plan before responding. A continuation of talks might result in confusion and conflict if the NFLPA was required to respond prematurely. I have been in such situations many times and view the temporary interruptions in talks to be positive – particularly as the next talks have already been scheduled. While the reason may be conflict guessing at the reasons does nothing more than potentially inflame or confuse the fans.

  7. If I were the president of the NFLPA I would tell the owners that I don’t care about 18 game schedules, practice time, or access to the players. Those are just distractions of the main issue. Not a concern for my union. What I’m infested in negotiating is guaranteed contracts, Roster payroll inflation that accurately matches the growth of League revenue, and amendments to the Franchise Tag. Now let’s talk business.

  8. Actually Demaurice Smith did in fact say a few weeks back that players should save money to prepare for a work stoppage. That was about a month ago or so.

    I always thought if the players ever wanted to have an effective strike, they should do it in week 16 or 17 of a running season. Right before the playoffs. That would definitely get the owners attention and bring them to the table to negotiate quickly and effectively.

  9. The NFL is not the bad guy here. The NFL employs thousands of people directly and tens of thousands indirectly.
    Whom exactly are the players and NFLPA looking out for? Themselves of course.
    The NFLPA always planned to walk away from the talks because it advances their narrative that the NFL is evil and greedy when in reality it is the players and the NFLPA that are evil and GREEDY! The NFLPA knows that the media is on their side too so that is an incentive for the NFLPA and players to act like spoiled brats.

  10. “The NFL is not the bad guy here. The NFL employs thousands of people directly and tens of thousands indirectly.
    Whom exactly are the players and NFLPA looking out for? Themselves of course.
    The NFLPA always planned to walk away from the talks because it advances their narrative that the NFL is evil and greedy when in reality it is the players and the NFLPA that are evil and GREEDY! The NFLPA knows that the media is on their side too so that is an incentive for the NFLPA and players to act like spoiled brats”

    I agree to an extent. As far as the players go, I say get rid of the franchise tag. I don’t think it’s fair to string a guy along on 1 year deals (irregardless of what he’s making per year). Also, if you want to throw the players a bone, get rid of marijuana testing.

  11. They realized they agreed on everything, so went away to find something worth negotiating.

  12. Just what goes on in these type of things. Walk away if talks aren’t progressing. Regroup and try again later. Goals are just goals. When the CBA expires then each side will have to determine what they’ll do.

  13. dryzzt23 says:
    July 18, 2019 at 11:48 am
    The NFL is not the bad guy here. The NFL employs thousands of people directly and tens of thousands indirectly.
    Whom exactly are the players and NFLPA looking out for? Themselves of course.
    The NFLPA always planned to walk away from the talks because it advances their narrative that the NFL is evil and greedy when in reality it is the players and the NFLPA that are evil and GREEDY! The NFLPA knows that the media is on their side too so that is an incentive for the NFLPA and players to act like spoiled brats.

    ________________

    Do you honestly beleive that the owners started businesses and purchased NFL teams to provide jobs for people? Everyone in this equation is out to make money for themselves, period end of story.

    No one is evil here, but everyone is greedy. Even the owners, even me, even you. We always want to make money and could always stand to make more. Both sides deserve to be rich for their contribution to the sport.

  14. Why? The players need to strike to make changes to the CBA and limit Roger’s power.
    Get rid of the kangaroo court, the league shouldn’t be acting as if they are a law enforcement agency. Give the players some privacy and get the media out of everything. The media should be presenting the game not imposing themselves into the game.

  15. Pension increases? Where is that money coming from? Are the PLAYERS contributing to that funding source? Of course not.
    Talk is cheap until the bill comes due, and the players want everything but are unwilling to take any risks, incur liability, contribute to anything, or PAY for anything.

  16. Haven’t heard any alarm bells from the union about putting away funds for a shutout so maybe they are closer than anyone thinks. That being said the league has always had the upper hand in these deals…
    ______________________________________________

    Last month they warned players to begin saving and arranging finances in preparation for a 2020 holdout. In the end, theres a lot of issues to work out, but I dont think its necessarily impassible. The NFL wants 18 games, a larger stadium fund and better media deals. I think the NFLPA would consider those if the NFL caves on guaranteed contracts, the elimination of 2 preseason games, revised drug and punishment rules, safety research and a modest revenue split increase. NFL gets its revenue increases and shiny stadiums, the players get more money, simplified contracts, more safety and better rule enforcement. Everyone wins.

    Or they can all whine to the media like they did last time and leave a sour taste in everyones mouths

  17. Do fans understand what the owners did to the players in the last two CBA’s?
    The owners made a deal in 2006 and two years later, when they didn’t like the
    promises they made, they opted out.
    When the opt out was triggered there was a two year work-out in which
    certain benefits for both sides were taken away. For instance the owners
    stoped their contribution to players 401 K. In the last season of 2009-2010
    there was no salary cap.
    What also happened during the 2 year work out was that the owners
    refused to meet, the owners violated federal labor laws by colluding
    ( they had an inside agreement that no team would exceed an agreed upon
    salary cap) .
    Then the owners locked out the players. The lockout ended with immense givebacks
    of benefits and money by the players to the owners.
    No wonder the players are being careful and perhaps are getting hot. They
    can’t trust Goodell.

  18. dryzzt23 says:
    July 18, 2019 at 1:04 pm
    Pension increases? Where is that money coming from? Are the PLAYERS contributing to that funding source? Of course not.
    Talk is cheap until the bill comes due, and the players want everything but are unwilling to take any risks, incur liability, contribute to anything, or PAY for anything.
    ———
    Actually the tax payers pay for everything. They pay for the stadiums, the property the stadiums are built on. The practice facilities and the land that it’s built on. The tax payers pay for security via law enforcement. I’m not exactly sure what the owners actually pay for? They sure collect the money but the the TV networks, the fans and the tax payers (fan or not) pay for everything.

  19. De Smith spent 8 years on a long well paid vacation avoiding preparing for strike. The tough guy talk is nonsense. Just an act. Once the players are in camp, he will undermine the positions promoted by EC members who can think for themselves. He will then sell out the players again like 2011.

    No strike since De designed it to fail.

  20. delfines72 says:
    July 18, 2019 at 11:34 am
    Actually Demaurice Smith did in fact say a few weeks back that players should save money to prepare for a work stoppage. That was about a month ago or so.

    I always thought if the players ever wanted to have an effective strike, they should do it in week 16 or 17 of a running season. Right before the playoffs. That would definitely get the owners attention and bring them to the table to negotiate quickly and effectively.
    +++++++++++++++

    Yeah, a strike in week 16 or 17 would get their attention. It would also get the fans’ attention. So I’m not sure it would benefit the union. It would depend to a large extent on how the owners’ responded and if they had the guts to tough it out. I remember when MLB pulled a similar tactic and it backfired big time. Took several years for the game to recover and the players were the reason.

  21. from Josina Anderson

    I was told today’s NFL & NFLPA bargaining session was “productive.” Asked why the pre-scheduled sessions ended early a source said, “there was information they needed to take back and discuss further with the other owners.”

  22. 16 game season should not change.Players should get a higher percentage of revenue. 1696 players compared to 32 owners who don’t even pay for the stadiums cause thy extort and blackmail the cities that they will leave. Players have to win this time. F the owners greed.

  23. 25% revenue share to the players. Don’t like it? Do something else.

    Break the contract that you signed – one year suspension without pay.

    If two players from your club get arrested during the season lose your next 1st round draft pick.

  24. In any Union negotiations the first thing you do is find out and clarify what the other side wants. If possible get any information about what is truly important and what is fluff. Then you go back to your respective corners and figure out a strategy. What is truly important to you, what are you willing to give, what is your bottom line. They did the first part, now they are doing the 2nd part.

    It only took a day, nothing to see here.

  25. What EVER. Billionaires fighting with Millionaires. After a while I don’t really care anymore. Everyone is making money because we all care. My give a CRAP tank is about empty.

  26. Sounds like one side was unprepared for what the other side had schemed up. The surprised side said we need to take some time to digest this. They agreed that more time was needed and put out a smiley joint statement because it really doesn’t matter to anyone else except the Billionaires and Millionaires involved…

  27. I can think of lots of potential reasons. One might be that they simply were at a place where they needed to get some questions answered before they could continue. For example they need to float something by their constituents with enough time to hear from everyone. Or they need to gather some research to move to the next step. Sometimes key issues must be fleshed out or key research is needed before they can discuss other things.

  28. The NFL has been historically willing to tell any story that fits their agenda. They can stand in a room with a 500lb gorilla raging in the corner and smile saying there is no Gorilla even as people point to it. (Actually nfl fashion would then be to hang a curtain so you cant see the corner and tell people that the contents of the corner need to be kept sealed. Each time people point out they can hear a gorilla and why does the curtain need to be there the NFL will just insist there is no gorilla and its important for the integrity of the game that they keep the curtain in place because…..well just because.) So they are pros at this and its easy for them to keep a straight face as they say that a three day negotiating session had to be terminated during the first day because it was going so well.

  29. This negotiation is going to get ugly before it’s done; and it’s going to be very difficult to feel sorry for either side. Remember gentlemen, it is ultimately the fans that enable all the prosperity you enjoy – don’t alienate your fans.

  30. I am 58 years old and I am a big fan of football. However, I must say that I just don’t care anymore. Millioaires and billionares …no sympathy for either.

  31. Goodell and D Smith are incompetent.
    Florio for Commish
    Anyone but D Smith for Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association.

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