Every time the NFL and the NFLPA square off in their latest skirmish over anything from a mundane detail to something as huge as a collective bargaining agreement, the NFL is able to take the high ground and “negotiate” terms that are “beneficial” to both sides. Who are we kidding? The NFL does negotiate with the NFLPA, but the NFL never winds up on the short end of the stick. The fact is that the NFLPA loses almost every time.
With the relatively large number of players currently in the league being arrested for DUIs, Mike Florio is reporting that the NFL has in fact been trying to make penalties against those players more severe, but he NFLPA has been resistant. This scenario brings me to the first reason the NFLPA always loses. They’re constantly defending the indefensible. Sticking with our example, can you really defend not being more strict on guys that break the law in a way that endangers innocent lives?
It’s still not clear if Justin Blackmon will be suspended for his recent DUI, and the incident wasn’t even his first time being arrested for a DUI. Florio believes the NFLPA would be willing to accept harsher punishments if the league let a neutral arbitrator hear appeals, but the NFL isn’t going to budge on that front because, in the end, they’ll get exactly what they want with no concessions.
The second reason the NFLPA always loses to the NFL is that they lack bargaining currency known as leverage. Players need their jobs to maintain their standard of living, but the owners don’t necessarily need all of their players. The only scenario that’s even close to an exception here is when the players and owners are negotiating a new CBA, and the players aren’t working. Even then, the owners can maintain their own standard of living for years or in many cases decades. Players, on the other hand, often run out of money alarmingly quickly after they stop receiving paychecks. Once again, advantage NFL.
The only saving grace for the NFLPA should be public opinion. During last year’s lockout, I sat firmly on the fence for most of the dispute, but in the end, I sided with the owners, not the players. Why? Because the owners were able to come off as the lesser of two evils. Guys like Drew Brees aren’t helping the NFLPA, and bountygate has only reinforced those feelings. In many ways, this ties back in to defending the indefensible. The NFLPA needs to build a better image.
Roger Goodell’s batting average against the players’ union is phenomenal. He almost always wins. To an outside observer, though, the reason is obvious. Goodell and the NFL owners know what the NFLPA will do before it ever acts, and the owners hold nearly all of the leverage. The NFLPA always loses; that’s just the reality of the NFL today.