The 2018 NFL season is underway and fans are excited and eager to watch their favorite players and manage their fantasy teams. But, behind the scenes players and owners are preparing for a different kind of battle, one that occurs nearly every decade and shows no signs of getting any easier.
The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is a labor contract between the NFLPA (NFL Players Association) and the owners of the league that covers issues like player salary, guaranteed contract limits, retired benefits, rookie contracts, appeals processes, and other legal and contract matters.
Perhaps the biggest issue is how to divide up the NFL’s annual nine billion dollar profit, which under the old CBA, had the owners claim one billion of that profit to start, then divide 60% of the remaining eight billion among the rest of the league.
The CBA is a unique document where it would seem the owners have all the power in negotiations. However, the players have used a lockout technique in order to even the bargaining field. The current CBA, set to expire after the 2020 season, has been in effect since the 2011, a year in which the players held out on a lockout for four months.
When players lockout, it is equivalent to a strike by a labor union. The players refused to attend any team functions, practices, meetings, and biggest of all in the pockets of the NFL owners: regular season games.
Although the last lockout did not stop any regular season or preseason games, San Francisco 49er Richard Sherman, who is also the representative in these labor talks for his team, has predicted a different outcome in 2020.
Sherman was asked by reporters late last week what he thought would happen in 2020 and he replied bluntly: “It’s (a lockout) going to happen, so it’s not like guys are guessing.”
Sherman went on to explain how the players plan on refusing to change anything about the current CBA, tying the hands of the owners to either accept these terms or lose money for each empty seat in their stadium come 2021.
Relationships between owners and players have been tested at best over the years, and the suspected exile of Colin Kapernick by the NFL owners has not helped those relations in the slightest. Fans should enjoy the next few seasons of NFL football, because the potential for a 2021 season without it is very possible.
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