SNIDER: NFL labor deal can still succeed

Rick Snider
February 21, 2020 - 4:29 pm
NFL labor deal can still succeed

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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Labor peace is still possible in the NFL.

Forget the NFL Players Association's executive committee voted 6-5 not to recommend the latest collective bargaining agreement by NFL owners on Friday. The proposal will still go to the 2,100-member union that requires only majority approval.

Sure, the executive council's rejection carries some weight with membership, but owners smartly included sweeteners to those not making the mega-millions. Tom Brady doesn't care about a $90,000 raise, but those earning the minimum do. Those on the bubble will like two more active roster jobs and two more practice squad spots. The populace will decide this offer's worth, as they should.

It's not a perfect deal. Owners will continue to make a fortune and why not – capitalism is still our currency and making money is not a crime. Many players will still be broken and battered, but everyone knows the risks going into it.

The new perks include no suspensions for testing positive for marijuana anymore, while testing is confined to a two-week period instead of four months. Some players contend marijuana is better for pain management than opioids. (And frankly, some just want to get high.) That marijuana's now legal in 11 states and its medical use is allowed in 33 states bolsters players' right to use it.

There will be less hitting in practices to keep bodies fresher. No more Junction Boys training camps, though in recent years contact was already reduced. There's one less preseason game. Too bad it wasn't cut by two.

In return, the NFL would finally gets its coveted 17th regular-season game that some players oppose, knowing it will lead to 18 eventually. That owners capped the extra game's pay at $250,000, rather than one-sixteenth of the player's contract, isn't fair to some players. That seemed the deal's most egregious move by owners.

The NFL is trying to cut a new deal 18 months before its current agreement ends so it can negotiate new TV monies this summer, knowing labor costs while offering additional games. There's nothing wrong with that and the NFL threw in some incentives to know those costs and avoid another ugly showdown.

Ultimately, if players reject this deal, owners will retaliate with replacement players in 2021. That move was a disaster in 1987, but owners know blowback would be temporary. They'd force the union into a lesser deal using a lockout.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was smart enough to convince owners there's more than enough money for everyone to have mega-yachts like Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and still pay players well. Better for everyone to give a little now than fight to the last penny in 2021.

Whether players will understand that too, we'll soon see. The NFLPA knows it can squeeze a little more from owners. Lifetime healthcare for vested veterans would be huge. But the vote may come down to the guys on the end of the bench and they see only today, not tomorrow.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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