NFL

NFL labor crisis – sides scramble as deadline approaches

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The CBA expires in less than a couple of days and none of the questions on everyone minds have yet been answered. Will the NFL move to lock out its football players, cutting all communication channels with them and thus putting the 2011 season in jeopardy? Will the NFLPA decertify, allowing its members to go at it on their own under the anti-trust umbrella? Would such a decertification – which would mean that players would give up their collective bargaining rights – save the upcoming season?

With $9 billion on the line though, it isn’t really in anybody’s interest to lose the 2011 season, or is it? The NFLPA and the league are set to resume federally mediated negotiations on Wednesday, and in the meantime, the owners are gathering in Chantilly, VA, to decide on the best course of action. The NFLPA scored one for the players when a US District Court Judge overturned a February 1 decision which denied the NFLPA’s request to have $4 billion of the money paid by various networks to the league be placed in escrow in case the 2011 season went down the drain. The Judge also took note of the fact that the negotiations that the league had conducted in the matter were against the players’ interests. The fate of the above said funds has not yet been decided.

While the National Football League pretty much ignored the judge’s decision, the NFLPA claimed that it provided evidence that owners had in fact planned to lock players out for the last 2 years. TV contracts were apparently negotiated in such a way that they would guarantee money for the owners in case of a lockout, all this while minimizing revenues during seasons when players would get a share of the pie. According to Jeff Pash, the league’s head negotiator, the league would do everything within its means to get something done before the CBA deadline and thus to avoid the lockout.

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