At the beginning of this seemingly never-ending nightmare, 133 days ago, the decertification of the NFLPA was the most significant point of contention between the NFL’s owners and players. Today, as we approach what looks to be the finish line but could very well be a mirage, the recertification of the NFLPA has emerged as the chief sticking point.
And because the players aren’t satisfied with certain aspects of the league’s ratified proposal, it’s becoming apparent that the recertification process will linger and the beginning of the new league year will continue to be delayed.
While discussions continue, word is the players will not vote on a new collective bargaining agreement Friday, which means team facilities will likely now open on Sunday or Monday at the earliest.
With each passing day, we can continue to adjust this schedule until the first week of the preseason is cancelled at some point next week.
Here’s a major problem: I’ve yet to hear a single player properly verbalize what he doesn’t like about the owners’ latest proposal. I understand that they’re frustrated with something, but they aren’t explaining themselves. What I’ve gathered based on hearing guys like Heath Evans and George Wilson talk is that issues dependent on collective bargaining (benefits, drug testing and discipline) are getting in the way.
Obviously, collective bargaining can’t take place until the union has recertified. In their proposal, the owners have left the two sides a 72-hour window next week in which those issues can be negotiated. If they fail to agree on re-worked policies during that period, the league will impose the 2006 CBA for the next 10 years.
That’s what bothers the players. They don’t like that the owners are dictating the recertification timeline, and they really don’t like that the owners are attempting to impose such a short window of time to negotiate the intricate details of the next CBA.
Are there other issues on the table? Maybe. Three of the four negotiation points we dissected yesterday weren’t addressed in the outline of the proposal forwarded to the players last night. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the players may be seeking an opt-out clause seven years into the 10-year agreement.
So there are several issues to discuss and time lines may have to be expanded, but the league and the players will have to work faster if they want to save the start of the preseason.
Don’t forget, though, that we’re talking about veteran players in the NFLPA executive committee. Maybe we should be wondering if they actually care to save the start of the preseason.