It could be posturing. It could be pragmatism. Either way, the NFL Players Association has prepared a digital pamphlet that advises players on how to handle a looming work stoppage.
The “Work Stoppage Guide,” a copy of which PFT has obtained, includes specific advice on how to being saving money, in the event that the plug gets pulled after the 2020 season. The guide includes an “ABC” approach — adjust, budget, cut — that recommends cooking at home instead of eating out, cancelling unused subscriptions, adopting a weekly “no spending day,” reviewing investments, implementing a “friends and family policy” regarding money given to those who commonly ask for some of it, avoiding the co-signing of loans, making arrangements for child support and/or alimony to allow temporarily reduced payments during a work stoppage, renting unoccupied homes or bedrooms to offset mortgage expenses, saving at least half of each game check, making any essential home repairs now, renting instead of buying a home, delaying the purchasing of any cars until after the CBA is signed, selling any car that hasn’t been driven in six months, reducing clothing purchases, selling clothes that haven’t been worn in over a year, getting a line of credit in place now for use if necessary during a work stoppage, and more.
Elsewhere in the “Work Stoppage Guide” appears an update on the status of the labor deal and the negotiations, and it seems to imply that the “work stoppage” would come in the form of a lockout, not a strike. Although the signs and signals of a lockout have not been as clear under the current labor deal as they were under the last one, the NFLPA has been bracing for the possibility that one or more of the areas in which the NFL hopes to improve its standing (like stadium credits) could result in ownership preventing the players from working until they cave on that issue.
That’s the most important distinction to remember as this process proceeds. Ownership’s nuclear option is to shut down the operation until labor gives in. Labor’s nuclear option is to walk out the door. In 1987, the players walked out during the regular season, with the goal of putting maximum pressure on ownership. When the strike collapsed a few weeks later, it became regarded as a given that a strike isn’t sustainable for NFL players.
While the NFLPA could at some point begin setting the table for a strike, for now they’re advising players to save under the vague notion that owners will eventually lock them out. Either way, the players need to be able to match the willingness of owners to get by without football revenue, and the “Work Stoppage Guide” is part of the effort by the players to get themselves ready — and/or to convince the owners that they will be.