The rules they are a-changin’.
Amid multiple reports that the NFL Players Association will send the current CBA proposal to full membership for a simple-majority vote to ratify it regardless of the outcome of the vote conducted by the 32-man board of player representatives — and despite NFLPA Constitution language apparently to the contrary — the NFLPA has made an adjustment.
Per a league source, the NFLPA will be submitting the full CBA to all players for a formal vote only if a simple majority of the board of player representatives approves the deal.
“There has been some confusion about the process governing the Board of Player Representatives vote on the proposed CBA,” the union said in a memo sent to all agents on Monday. “The proposed CBA is sent to the full player Membership for a ratification vote ONLY if a majority of the Board votes to send it to them. If a majority of the Board does NOT vote to send the proposed CBA to the full player membership, it will NOT be sent. If 2/3 or more of the Board votes to recommend to full player membership that the proposed CBA be ratified, it will be sent with a formal recommendation.”
The relevant language from Article VI of the CBA appeared in a Friday item. Article VI says nothing about a majority vote of the board of player representatives being a prerequisite to a vote by all players, referencing only a two-thirds, non-binding vote that would amount to a formal recommendation from the board to all members of the union.
That said, Article VI has language suggesting that the board must reach an agreement with the league before a CBA is considered for potential ratification. It’s possible that the board, exercising its powers under Article V of the NFLPA Constitution, has interpreted Article VI to require agreement between the board and the league, and that said agreement must be reflected by a majority vote of the board.
However it happened, the rules definitely are different now than they were on Friday. On Friday, it was regarded as a given that a majority vote of all players would trump whatever the board’s vote may be. Now, the board can block a full vote, if 16 or more members of the board of player representatives vote no.
The ensuing message to the league is clear: “Don’t assume that, even if the board balks at your best offer, more than half of all players will approve the deal. They won’t even get a chance to vote unless at least 17 members of the board sign off on the agreement.”
Of course, there’s a chance this is an unsupportable interpretation of the NFLPA Constitution. But, as a practical matter, who’s going to do anything about it? As one source recently explained it to PFT, the vast majority of players are paying no attention to this process. A player who isn’t a member of the board or the Executive Committee would have to fight this, and the chances of that happening are highly unlikely.