Only a few weeks ago, the league had all the leverage over the NFLPA in CBA negotiations. How quickly things have changed.
As the two sides meet today with just over 48 hours remaining on the already twice extended collective bargaining agreement deadline, the major sticking point continues to be financial transparency.
And it looks like we have a stalemate.
But the owners no longer have the upper hand in the negotiation room, and decertification and litigation heavily favour the union. That’s why I remain more optimistic than most observers.
I get the feeling the owners realize that as long as Judge David Doty presides over legal proceedings involving the league and the players association, there’s little chance they’re going to get their lockout insurance money, and there’s also a very good chance that they’ll eventually be forced to open their books anyway.
If the union decertifies prior to 5:00 p.m. ET Friday, an antitrust lawsuit aimed at blocking a lockout would follow almost immediately. In court, it’s almost an inevitability that the NFL would be asked to reveal its audited financial statements.
So the league can’t win this staring contest. We all know this. Between now and Friday afternoon, the two sides will likely go back and forth on how to find an appropriate, confidential procedure for sharing financial information, and the owners will eventually be forced to cry uncle and open the books before once again extending the CBA expiration deadline.