NFL, NFLPA dispute over money won’t keep football from happening

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As the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to haggle over whether and to what extent players will be paid in the event that games are canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, some are suggesting that, if the league and the union can’t reach a deal over money, there will be no football in 2020. That’s simply not the case.

The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement — ratified by the NFLPA after the pandemic began — already addresses the situation. Because the CBA contains no force majeure clause, the players currently are entitled to full pay in 2020, even if games are canceled. The league’s only argument regarding reduced pay comes under the Standard Player Contract, which suggests that the duty to pay base salary does not arise until at least one game has been played.

In other words, if there are no games, the players get no pay. If, however, there is only one game, the players get full pay.

Through these negotiations, the league is trying to create a force majeure clause on the fly, getting players to agree to be paid only for games that are played, even though the league has had the ability within the confines of every single CBA negotiation that ever has occurred to ask for a force majeure clause. The league’s sole protection in the event of a pandemic comes from the mutual duty to negotiate in good faith as to the impact of lost 2020 revenues on the 2021 salary cap.

Nothing stops the players from agreeing to a force majeure clause in order to reduce the overall 2020 losses that would need to be addressed in the future, but the players don’t have to agree to one. And if the two sides don’t strike a deal as to player pay in 2020, the current CBA will control. Most importantly, the absence of a deal on money won’t allow the owners to lock out the players.

That said, there’s a chance (in theory) that the league would be more inclined to pull the plug on the entire season, if faced with the possibility of owing the players full pay even if only one game is played, but no pay if no games are played. As one league source remarked yesterday, some teams would likely prefer to scrap the season than to risk owing the full amount of the 2020 player payroll even if only a handful of 2020 games ultimately are played.

Regardless, the league can’t take the position that there will be no football in 2020 if the players don’t agree to modify the CBA when it comes to the issue of player compensation. As the NFL would say (and has said) when it comes to aspects of the CBA that the players don’t like, it’s a collectively-bargained issue.

Which is a tactful way of saying, “Tough crap.”

13 responses to “NFL, NFLPA dispute over money won’t keep football from happening

  1. I definitely want to watch football as a avid fan but if I were the owners I wouldn’t trust these players, kids mostly, not to quit after 1 game citing safety concerns. And kicking back, getting paid like alot of people are doing these days.

  2. Owners will not allow a game to be played (no preseason already) unless there is an income and salary adjustment. They can’t be that dumb? Can they ?

  3. You don’t become a multi billionaire making bad financial decisions, there will be no NFL football in 2020.

  4. I have been a die hard NFL fan for close to 50 years. The only games I wouldn’t watch were the replacement players games. It was a bad product.

    But, I think I will take a pass on this season. I think it will be a fairly diluted product. No fans. no real emotion, people just drawing a paycheck. Key players will get the virus, others will have injuries because of insufficient training.

    I would watch a few games for interest. Brady and Gronk against Brees. Cam Newton in Foxboro. See how Burrow looks. A peek at Chase Young. But probably not full games.

  5. And if the players don’t play after game one, guess what happens to the salary cap next year? Good luck getting a free agent deal, and good luck to the very substantial number of players cut so teams can get under the cap. It would be very shortsighted of the players to abandon the season after a few games.

    Much like it would be shortsighted to cancel the entire season if you are the owners. The NFL is not impervious to fan outrage, and they could take a hit in popularity if the owners did that.

    Cooler heads will prevail, just like in the other sports, and an agreement will be reached. Business partners that are destined to work together for years to come usually will make compromises to keep the peace.

  6. my best guess is owners and NFLPA will agree to a 10% cut this yr or in escrow (same difference players not getting that back) and likely cap reduced next yr by another 20 million (approx 10% from the current 200m cap) with whatever difference made up by 2022. no chance the players convince owners accept to blend the losses into the next 10 yrs. therefore if the revenue shortfall created by this yr pandemic having minimal to zero fans is a loss of 60 million relative to the salary cap then a reduction of 20m in the next 3 yrs starting this yr

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