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Risks And Rewards Of Decertification As NFL Lockout Looms

The NFL and NFLPA are currently in negotiations to come to an agreement on a new CBA, which expires at midnight on Thursday, March 3rd. If a deal doesn't get done -- and it's not expected to -- then we could see a lockout, which would be the NFL's move, or decertification, which would be the NFLPA's move.

What's the good and the bad associated with decertification? Andrew Brandt of National Football Post calls it a "high risk, high reward" scenario for the union. The reward is blocking a lockout and gaining legal leverage in negotiations. There are several risks, though, Brandt writes.

The NFL will fight the strategy both through its existing claim with the NLRB and in delaying the hearing of any antitrust claims. Through delaying adjudication of claims into the fall, the NFL will hope for union solidarity to slip in the face of game checks being lost, resulting in a backfire to the union.

The NFL filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the NFLPA's supposed threat of decertification is not bargaining in good faith which, as Brandt points out, is ironic because the latest ruling on the TV contracts case found the league had been planning for a lockout long before. The issue of delaying anything into the fall becomes more complicated with the latest ruling on the TV contracts, that the NFL may not have access to the $4 billion in network money.

Brandt also writes that, though the NFLPA has done the necessary homework on decertification, he doesn't think they've ever wanted to use it. Because of language in the current CBA, the union would have to do this before the expiration of the labor agreement -- in other words, tomorrow.