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NFLPA: Save Now to Fight Later

Players Union puts out a video to prepare the rank and file for a potential 2021 strike.

Brian Young's picture
Aug 01, 2017

Training camp is finally here and we are just a few short weeks away from another great football season. As the new season is heating up, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has released a new video warning their members that they need to start saving now so that they will be ready for a new contract fight in four years. The campaign entitled Save Now, Fight Later, is an important message for players, but the players have another way to fight back and they don’t need to wait 9 months to take action.

Over the last few decades, football has supplanted baseball as America’s game. Sunday football routinely draws tens of thousands of fans to the stadium and millions watching on TV.  Yet as the popularity of the sport has grown, salaries have not grown as fast as in other sports. Out of the top 50 richest contracts in American sports, there is only one, Andrew Luck, whose contract makes the list, and it comes in a number 43. The average NFL salary is $2.1 million, the lowest of the big four American sports.

 

With this in mind, the NFLPA knows that they will need some leverage if they want to get a deal on par with what players in the NBA and MLB are getting.  To gain this leverage they need their platers to be in a position to take action against the league. With four years left on their collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA thinks now is the time to start preparing.  As part of their ongoing financial literacy training, the NFLPA has released a video to their members entitled Save Now. Fight Later. The goal of the video is to get the players to stop buying the second Ferrari and put the money away for a potential strike or just life after football. "We have such a long CBA that I knew my role was probably going to be to get these guys ready for the next fight," NFLPA president Eric Winston says in the video. Maybe the NFLPA has learned from the MLBPA who went on strike in 1994 to protect their players against wage killing proposals like the salary cap. Since the 1994 strike, players’ salaries have skyrocketed and owners have seen record profits.

It is definitely important for players to start preparing for a potential strike in 2020, but players can also start taking action now. Every year from April through June teams hold voluntary workouts.  These workouts essentially give the teams free practice time and while they are voluntary, most players attend.  Teams and media organizations often shame players who don’t attend with stories that they aren’t team players or that they may have an attitude or commitment issue making these workouts feel anything but voluntary. These voluntary workouts also known as OTA’s have been pushed by the teams so that they can keep better track of their players in the offseason. They were added in 2008 to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the fight over the length of the OTA’s helped lead to the impasse that caused the 2011 lockout.

In 2011, the owners did not think that the players were prepared to take action and instead locked the players out for the entire offseason.  It is clear that the owners think that the players are divided and weak.  By organizing a mass boycott of these optional practices, the NFLPA can show that their ranks are united and will be a force to reckon with. Activists players, who have the bank accounts to go on strike and not cross the picket line, will put the union in a strong position to get a player friendly contract and may actually prevent a work stoppage.

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