Late Friday afternoon the negotiations between the NFL and its players came to an end.

Next stop is U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

The NFL Players Association filed for decertification just before the 4 p.m. CST deadline, kicking off what could be called the legal end of this dispute.

Here’s where things get ugly and will require the intervention of the court and Judge David Doty to push these two parties towards a new labor agreement. It was not an unexpected outcome; in fact the NFL says the decertification is what the players planned to do from the start. Early Friday, the NFL made a proposal to the players that in some ways was a significant change to what the sides had talked about before. The union demanded more financial information that they’ve been seeing and the proposal and request went nowhere.

The NFL will be locking out the players at 11 p.m. CST on Friday.

The NFLPA’s next step is already in the works – an anti-trust lawsuit against the league, seeking an injunction that would bar the owners from locking the doors. That suit carries the names of superstars like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Vincent Jackson, along with Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel, soon to be drafted Texas A&M LB Von Miller and several others.

Both sides had plenty to say about the decisions made by the other on Friday and it wasn’t pretty.

“There was a commitment to litigate all along,” NFL negotiator Jeff Pash said of the players. “We were meeting with them after 4 o’clock this afternoon talking about the proposal we gave them this morning and we find out in the next hour that they’ve filed to decertify.”

“He has lied to you about what happened today,” said NFLPA outside legal counsel Jim Quinn. “The proposal they introduced today included elements that we rejected over the last two weeks. Again and again, the same rehashed proposals. In the proposal they presented today they wanted the players to give them a $5 billion gift.”

The league came back with more on the Friday proposal.

“The union left a very good deal on the table,” the NFL said in a statement. “It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years.)

“The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes.”

Here are the basics on the situation:

  • The union’s decertification makes them a trade association for the players, not a union with the right to collectively bargaining. The NFLPA can serve as a clearinghouse and represent players in other manners like marketing rights, etc.
  • An owners’ lockout will postpone the start of free agency and any off-season workout programs by individual teams.
  • The events of Friday will have no effect on the NFL Draft; it will go off as planned on April 28-29-30.
  • The players’ anti-trust suit includes an injunction that would bar the owners from locking out the players and from instituting new work rules.
  • If the injunction is granted, then Judge Doty will establish the work rules, likely continuing the NFL rules that were used last season.
  • The league can appeal any ruling by Doty, and that’s likely given the owners feeling that the judge is biased against them.
  • The NFLPA’s oversight of agents representing NFL players ended with the decertification.


  • March 11, 2011  - david says:

    I dont understand and hope someone can explain to me. So the union is not happy and they decertify. They then sue the owners as individuals. Once the thing is settled they will form the union again. Not that I am taking players or owners side but that just doesnt seem right. How can the players do that? Who do the owners negotiate with now that there is no union?

  • March 12, 2011  - Michael says:

    Bob, what happend to all the comments that were here following this article? They seem to have disappeared.

  • March 12, 2011  - Tim says:

    The players were crazy not to take the last proposal, if what’s been reported is true. Demaurice Smith has an ego driven agenda. He’s trying to make a name of himself.

    Don’t know why you’ve been taking down posts Bob???

  • March 12, 2011  - el cid says:

    I doubt we will ever understand the interworkings of these two groups. But I garantee they will be back some day with price increases, demands with leaving town as the threat, and we will probably dig in our pockets or demand our elected officials dign into our pockets to “save” the day. Bread and circus’, just like Roman days.

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