NFL Players' Union--who does the negotation?

Otherwise known as, fucking unions how do they work?

Are the people actually doing the negotating for the Player’s union actual NFL football players? Or do unions hire people specifically trained to negotiate these kinds of things? Or do the players’ agents handle this stuff?

er wut?

I’m guessing the answer to this question generalizes to some extent to other unions as well?

The executive director of the NFLPA is DeMaurice Smith, a DC lawyer. I don’t know that he actually is the one negotiating but I would imagine he’s more than qualified to.

When some members’ pay tends to be in the millions, you want really good lawyers to go over the contract terms with a fine-toothed comb. When you have details like who owns a player’s public image, and what happens if the player is wearing the logo which is team property, in some commercial endeavour, etc… You can see the issues can get complex. You can bet the billionaire team owners get the best lawyers they can get. Both sides tell their negotiators what they want; if the negotiators come to some compromise on an issue, they check back to see if that is good enough. Then they leave to the experts the details of writing a contract that says what both sides agree on without loopholes.

I’ll note that NFLPA decertified as a collective bargaining unit last night, meaning each player can now pursue individually pursue a remedy. (I’m way open to clarification or correction on that.) In this case, that means a bunch of federal antitrust lawsuits. I’m believe Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees among others have already filed suit. I haven’t a clue how this affects future collective negotiation methods, but I’m assuming it’ll be for the negative as far as the collective portion goes.

I don’t understand why if the NFLPA dissolved itself, that means that the players can individually pursue anti-trust lawsuits. Was it simply that previously the players accepted the trust status of the owners because they had their own organization, but that now they’re on their own, the players will pursue this?

Decertification allows them to sue, to resolve the issues in court rather than as part of collective bargaining. They took the same action during the 1987 work stoppage, and re-certified after the suit was resolved. Expect the same to happen this time.

While each of the ~1700 union members could file their own suit, it makes sense to pursue a single case. Ten players have joined to file suit, including not just Brees, Brady, and Manning (arguably, the game’s three biggest stars) but three players who are free agents, three who are under contract, and a college player who hasn’t yet been drafted.

(for the record, they are: San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber and defensive end Brian Robison, Patriots guard Logan Mankins, New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel, and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller)

Each team has (had) a union rep, many were at the discussions before the decertification/lockout. Drew Breeze was the Saints’ players’ rep, for example.

Nitpick. Brees is not the union rep for the Saints. Jon Stinchcomb is, and Will Smith is the alternate. Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning are parties to the antitrust lawsuit primarily because they have such a high profile.

The NFLPA has removed all union content from their website (it redirects to, but a list of the team reps is available through google cache.