In case you've been living under a rock, the big news today is that the CBA between the NFL and the NFLPA expires tonight at 11:59 PM EST. So far, it doesn't look good for any last minute deal to save the day. More than likely, a lockout will begin at midnight on Friday. There are some alternative actions that could take place, including some kind of agreement to temporarily extend the CBA, or the more likely action of the NFLPA decertifying. The NFLPA spent all season getting approval from the players to decertify, so you have to think that's a likely scenario.
So, where do we stand as of now. One indication that a potential agreement on anything isn't on the horizon is the travel plans of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He left the meetings.
"We're still involved in our dialog, so there's no comment," Jones said as he was leaving a hotel in Chantilly, Va., where negotiations have been under way. Asked if he was going to stay for more mediation sessions, Jones answered, "No, I'm going back to Dallas. That's all I'll say."
It's hard to believe that Jerry would leave if something was imminent. Patriots owner Robert Kraft left the meetings, too. This, to me, is a very good indication that we're headed for a lockout. Unless...the NFLPA decertifies as a union. They would need to do it before midnight on Friday, because once the labor agreement expires, they couldn't decertify for six months. I'd say look for this to happen soon. And what does that mean?
It means that players can take the NFL to court in an antitrust case, and that would end up in the courtroom of a judge that has been kind to the players in the past when they've ended up in his courtroom. The owners could claim that the decertification is a "sham", that the union is still really in effect, but that won't likely stop the process. The players could seek an injunction against a lockout if they decertify.
ESPN has a very good article that explains all of this, here. If you have interest in the details of what's going on, I would strongly suggest you read it. Here's a snippet about what happens if the union decertifies.
The weapons are an antitrust lawsuit and an injunction that would stop the lockout. When they are an active union, the players cannot file an antitrust lawsuit and they cannot ask for an injunction. Labor unions are legally barred from such actions. When the players decertify, they become a group of individuals instead of members of a union. Their new status allows them as individuals to file an antitrust suit against the owners and to ask for an injunction that would stop the lockout. It's a difficult lawsuit, but it's a lawsuit the players can, and ultimately will, win.
Sources are already saying this is going to happen.
Sources told ESPN the union was prepared to decertify Thursday, barring a last-minute breakthrough. That action means the union no longer would represent the players, who would be giving up their rights under labor law and instead take their chances in court under antitrust law. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the union had not made its plans public.
So get ready. Lawsuits are certainly on the horizon unless a miracle last-minute deal is reached. As for the Cowboys, the coaches held a meeting with the players, and they're preparing for a lockout.
The Dallas Cowboys coaches met with players in a team meeting Wednesday in advance of a possible lockout looming Friday. The message, according to wide receiver Dez Bryant, was to stay in shape and stay prepared if there is a work stoppage.
"We talked about [the potential lockout] and everyone is concerned about that. Right now, no one knows how long it's going to last," [Sam] Young said. "We just kind of got to get prepared for the off-season. I think you come closer down to crunch time and everyone has questions, and everyone is just trying to figure out what's exactly going on. I think it was just more getting everyone prepared."
Judgment Day is here.