By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s like déjà vu for the NFL and NFLPA, as the two sides barrel toward another potential lockout. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and NFLPA, signed in 2011, is due to expire again in 2021. After they apparently didn’t get enough to listen in 2011, the NFLPA is once again giving NFL players the same advice they gave six years ago.
Save more money.
That’s what George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director of external affairs, said to Alex Marvez and Geoff Schwartz on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday. He acknowledged that the NFLPA ultimately had to sign the new CBA with the NFL before the 2011 preseason because players weren’t sufficiently prepared to endure a lockout and lose game checks. As a result, the NFLPA had to make financial concessions to the league’s owners that they otherwise may not have had to make.
“We wound up in a situation where unfortunately, [savings] didn’t happen across the league as much as it could have happened,” said Atallah, via Marvez on The Sporting News.
Atallah is also hoping that players who went through the brief offseason lockout of 2011 to pass the advice along to players who have come into the league since then.
“We need players of every generation to really help the young guys understand what it takes to go through some ‘labor strife,'” said Atallah. “For the players who went through it in 2011, the union administration and player leadership did everything it could to prepare players across the league. I think it needs to happen again with the same sort of fervor.”
The NFLPA is as cognizant as any organization of the reality that many NFL players, while certainly highly paid, live beyond their means in terms of lifetime earnings and don’t save money at a rate the Players Association would deem satisfactory. The NFLPA reportedly took out a $44 million insurance policy in 2011 that would have paid every eligible player $200,000 in the event of a season-long lockout.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ NFLPA rep, guard Ramon Foster, urged his fellow players last August to start saving money for a potential 2021 lockout. Foster believes a work stoppage may be the only way to force NFL owners to make concessions of their own on the next CBA.
“Hit them in the pocket. That way, money always talks,” said Foster. “For us to do that, we have to save on our end.”
The NFL’s minimum player salary will be $465,000 in 2017, up from $325,000 in 2010, while the average player salary still hovers around $2 million. With a little extra space to save money, it would behoove the players to take a short-term hit for the benefit of their long-term financial security.
Still, if an NFL lockout happens in 2021, the only people guaranteed to lose are the fans.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.