Multiple sources are reporting that the NFL players union has officially filed the papers the de-certify their union. This means that the NFL has dissolved as a union and can no longer negotiate or bargain on the behalf of the players. The next step is likely for a number of players to file a class action lawsuit against the NFL on anti trust claims. The NFL will counter-sue to prevent the players union from dissolving and could very likely also vote to lockout the players and suspend all business.
As Andrew Brandt just said on ESPN, “It’s out of the hands of negotiators and into the hands of litigators.” There can be no more discussions between the two sides, because the NFLPA no longer exists and can not bargain on the players’ behalf.
Just minutes before today’s 5pm deadline, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith issued an ultimatum that the owners turn over 10 years of audited financial data before the union agreed to any extension of the deadline or any further negotiations. Smith likely knew that the was the one thing the owners would not do, so minutes later the NFLPA faxed the necessary papers to the court to dissolve their union.
The owners reportedly made “hundreds of millions of dollars” worth of concessions today, but the players made no counter proposals. With conflicting info coming from both sides, it’s tough to know exactly what to believe… but what is clear is that the players simply don’t trust the owners. For the players, any concessions the owners make don’t really mean anything unless they can see the owners books so they know exactly what the financial position of the league is. Of course, almost no private company would agree to fully open their books like that and the NFL is no different. As several people have noted this week, there are owners that don’t even want to open their books to each other… so the chances of them turning over their full books to the players are non-existent.
According to a statement made by federal mediator George Cohen, who had been mediating this dispute, "no constructive purpose can be served by requesting the parties to continue mediation at that this time." He said that the two had failed to come to any consensus on a number of major issues.
The only sure fire winners in the current scenario are the lawyers… who look set to to reap a bounty of billable hours with months of legal battles likely ahead.