March 11, 2011
The NFL Players Association has decided to decertify and has taken steps in court to formalize.
After 16 days of mediated talks with the NFL, the sides could not reach agreement on a new deal.
The decision to file for decertification required a unanimous vote from the players. It is expected that the NFL's response will be to lock out the players. Decertification would allow the union to sue under antitrust laws if there is a lockout.
The players union issued the following statement Friday afternoon:
"The NFL Players Association announced today it has informed the NFL, NFL clubs and other necessary parties that it has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League.The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that the league's preference was for negotiation instead of litigation but expressed optimism.
"We will be prepared to negotiate and agreement that's fair to the players and fair to the clubs," Goodell said.
NFLPA union head DeMaurice Smith met with the media shortly before the deadline of 2 p.m. Pacific on Friday and had this to say:
"We met with the owners until about 4 o'clock today," Smith said outside the mediator's office. "We discussed a proposal they had presented. At this time, significant differences continue to remain. We informed the owners that ... if there was going to be a request for an extension, that we asked for 10 years of audited financial information to accompany that extension."
The league is heading toward its first work stoppage from 1987.
"The parties have not achieved an overall agreement," federal mediator George Cohen said, "nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held competing positions that separated them on core issues.
"No useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time."