The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with players is set to expire in 2021, and the NFLPA hopes players are better prepared for a lengthier labor battle with the league.
In 2011, the NFL lockout lasted over four months, but didn’t cut into the regular season or force the cancellation of any preseason games except the Hall of Fame Game. It may have lasted longer if players had better prepared for their time out of work, according to NFLPA executive George Atallah.
In an interview with Alex Marvez and Geoff Schwartz of SiriusXM NFL Radio, Atallah said the poor planning of many players forced the hand of the union in negotiations six years ago.
"We wound up in a situation where unfortunately (savings) didn’t happen across the league as much as it could have happened,” Atallah said.
The NFLPA prepared for a lockout by taking out a $44 million insurance policy that would’ve paid each player $200,000 if the entire season was scrapped. But that wasn’t enough for some players. Vince Young and Bryant McKinnie were among players who took out sizable high-interest loans to get through the lockout, causing financial issues for those players in the future.
"In 2009, we were faced with a major sort of signal that the owners were going to try and lock players out,” Atallah said. “We were trying to get as many players prepared as possible."
The 2011 lockout ended after 132 days, and most have since declared the NFL the big winners in the negotiation. With another labor dispute on the horizon, the NFLPA is trying to proactively teach the values of money management so it has more leverage for a longer fight.
"We need players of every generation to really help the young guys understand what it takes to go through some 'labor strife,'" he said. “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."
If players heed that warning and fill their doomsday supplies, it could mean we’re in for a big fight in 2021 between the NFLPA and NFL. If players don’t, they’ll likely be on the losing end of the collective bargaining agreement once again.