Could someone explain the football strike/lockout?

What are the issue(s)? Is it that the owners want to pay less money than in the past or is it that the players want too much of an increase?

As I understand it, there is a lockout in effect. Why didn’t the owners simply say, “work under the old contract until we reach a settlement”? or is it a case of “If some (but no all) players go on strike, we might as well shut down completely”

As I understand it, the union was dissolved. Did the union effectively do that on it’s own as a negotiating tactic, or did the players really think the union was not acting in their best interest? If there is no union, who is negotiating with the owners?


Well, to answer the last part of your question, the union dissolved so that individual players could sue the owners under anti-trust laws. Now why that had to happen, I’m not going to take the time to look into; but that is why they did it.

It’s basically a reverse strike. The owners are saying that they don’t like how negotiations are proceeding and saying don’t bother coming to work until we say otherwise.

Often when a labour contract expires, it is extended until a new one was signed.

The issue is that the currently the owners take 10% off the top and split the remaining revenues with players. What they want to do is take 20% off the top and split the remaining revenue with players. The players are willing to keep playing under the current agreement but the owners are not and have locked out the players.
The union decertified after it was unable to reach an agreement with the owners. The players can then sue the league under antitrust legislation which they could not have done had they been involved in a union which collectively bargained the rules. If the league is found to have violated the antitrust laws, this will provide incentive for the owners to agree to the unions demand instead of getting sued by every player in the league. As soon as the owners signal a willingness to make an agreement amenable to the players or the players get tired of being locked out the union will reform and the status quo ante will resume with a new agreement.


Greedy million/billionaires squabbling about how to divvy up the multi-billion-dollar pie their monopoly industry produces every year.

When there are no revenues coming in next fall, they’ll quickly come to terms and we’ll see an agreement put in place.

As some sports commentator said about the last hockey strike- when millionaires fight billionaires in a game of chicken, generally the billionaires will win.

AsI understand, if the owners have across-industry agreement how to deal with dozens of independent players, then that’s anti-trust collusion. Just like airlines or computer makers can’t agree to divvy up he country and set prices. If players association and owners have an agreement, that’s not collusion.

…but as I understand it, the agreement that the NFL (IE, the owners) made with the networks is such that the networks have to pay the NFL for the right to broadcast the games next year even if there aren’t any games to broadcast.

The NFL (IE, the owners) will eventually have to reimburse the networks after the season if in fact there were no games to broadcast during any week - but only after the season ends.

So it will be quite a while before the owners start to feel the pinch of no revenues - long after the players (who won’t be receiving any of that network money) are feeling that particular pinch.

On the other hand, IIRC the NHL was unquestionably having financial trouble during that labor fight. ESPN dramatically overpaid for their previous TV contract and they weren’t being offered anywhere near the amount for the renewal. The player’s contracts and demands were genuinely out of line with revenue projections.

As of yet, many/most are still rather dubious on the NFL owner’s claims of financial problems.

That was the plan anyway. Judge Doty put a stop to it.

The owners can’t force the players to work under an expired contract. The players de-certified their union so that they could file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. It’s a tactic they used after the 1987 strike (and they eventually won their lawsuit). Nobody negotiates on behalf of the players… there is no negotiating going on, just the lawsuit.

As to the issues at stake, the simple answer is that it’s a disagreement about how much of the revenues should go to players. The more complex answer is that each side has a number of changes they’d like to implement – the owners want to add HGH testing and expand the schedule from 16 to 18 games; the players want to expand post-NFL health benefits and provide benefits to players who can’t play because of concussions. Much of this tension has arisen because they haven’t negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement for 25 years. They kept renewing the previous one every few years to avoid the heavy costs caused by two strikes in six years (1982 and 1987). But they’ve maintained labor peace by simply ignoring all of the new issues that arose during the interim.