September 17, 2010

NFL Apocalypse looming - can baseball take advantage?

Players from four teams (so far) have voted to decertify the NFLPA, essentially voting to break up their own union. This will provide them leverage to sue the NFL in the event of a lockout due to labor laws involving collective bargaining. Logic-wise I'm not sure why this makes sense - if the union decertifies they can't, well, bargain, but they can still apparently negotiate as a "trade organization" (though I'm not all that sure how the labor laws work out there). There would be no more grievances, and the NFL would have control over how the players are marketed. But it does provide the owners more of an incentive to work out a new deal before the current one expires I guess.

I'm very interested to see what will happen if we do see a stoppage in the NFL. The 94 strike absolutely murdered baseball. The NFL *may* have passed it by then in ratings but baseball was still the national sport. The Venn diagram of baseball fans and football fans has a pretty big intersection so I would not be surprised if people blame the players.

However, one difference between football and baseball is that the casual fan does not imagine he or she can play professional football (FG kickers excepted). As we saw last week players get injured all the time, and it feels like the concussion issue is finally starting to seep its way into the national sports fan consciousness. Not just anyone can take a bone-crunching tackle from Ray Lewis. But they certainly don't have sympathy with any high-paid star who stops producing (though the NFL mitigates this by just cutting them, thanks to the ridiculous non-guaranteed contracts bandied around).

Can baseball jump in to fill the void? Well, I guess it *could*, but I'm not so sure that Bud Selig is the guy to lead the way. MLB has its own CBA to negotiate soon too, though things don't sound quite as dire on that front. Now that Fehr is gone I wonder if the union doesn't have as much teeth. We'll just have to see how it goes.


Mercurial Outfielder said...

The chief advantage of de-certifying is that the players can now sue the owners for anti-trust violations, because the owners will essentially be forced to act as one.

Remember, the players want NFLPA broken up this way because NFLPA has essentially become a puppet of ownership, thanks to the inept leadership of the late Gene Upshaw.

Berselius said...

Yeah, Gene Upshaw was a terrible union leader. It was really strange when he died and everyone pretended he hadn't been working hand-in-glove with ownership.

The most ridiculous legacy of the NFLPA is the prevalence of non-guaranteed contracts. For guys whose careers could be over at the snap of a finger, you'd think that of *any* player's union they would push the hardest for this.

On a completely different note, I wouldn't be surprised to see some pushback on some of the draft money and that kind of stuff. I can't believe that Sam Fucking Bradford is getting $50 million guaranteed before he ever took a snap. Yada yada market forces, but still, the dude is already carrying *multiple* surgeries going into the NFL.