The NFLPA threatened this move a couple of weeks ago, and it appears to have been prepared to go through with it all along. According to the NFL Network, the players’ union has officially ‘decertified’ by turning in the paperwork in a Minneapolis court. In other words, the union is no more. However, it will continue on as a ‘professional trade association’; a name that conjures images of blacksmiths and carpenters.
Now that the union is dissolved, individual players are free to file anti-trust suits against the NFL, a move that will cause the NFL no end of grief. It’s a unique maneuver, not something anyone expected to see early on. Nonetheless, it’s leverage for future talks. Also, according to NFL Network Legal Analyst, Gary Roberts, the players feel they have an ally in Judge David Doty who has been overseeing this mediation.
The federal mediator, himself, noted that there is “no constructive purpose” to continue talks. The talks were far too narrow on both sides. In other words, irreconcilable differences have forced this issue.
Charges will be filed on behalf of big name players such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. All that remains is to see what the NFL’s countermove will be. It’s possible the NFL will be forced to not only open it’s books, but pay damages if it the courts decide it hasn’t acted in good faith. If the NFL foresees such an outcome, look for the league to start making concessions soon.