The NFL has accused the NFLPA of advising players to feign injury. What do we know?
Though details continue to emerge, what is clear is that the NFL has essentially accused the NFLPA of advising RBs to fake injury in contract negotiations.
The claims of the league if even halfway true could have far-reaching consequences for not just players and teams, but the league itself. This is not to say this situation is black and white, indeed, there are layers to this but rest assured this is serious.
NFL files grievance against NFLPA
According to a press release on Monday, the NFL communicated through a memo the filing of a grievance against the NFLPA. Specifically named in the memo, was NFLPA president and former Cleveland Browns center, JC Tretter.
“Beginning this past summer and continuing through training camp, NFL Players Association leadership, including President JC Tretter, have become increasingly vocal in advising NFL players dissatisfied with their current contracts to consider feigning or exaggerating injuries to withhold service as a way to increase their leverage in contract negotiations,” the memo reads.
How does the NFL’s issue with NFLPA fit the current context?
If even you’re a casual football fan, it’s impossible that you didn’t see that running back negotiations were the hot topic of this last offseason. From Saquon Barkley to Jonathan Taylor, there were several players in that position that made their position clear: ‘We’re undervalued.’ As a result, they held out for better contracts. Where Barkley is concerned, he eventually signed a one-year deal, while Taylor who failed to secure a long-term contract is currently on the ‘physically unable to perform’ (PUP) list as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. There are of course a number of others, however, with the complaints being largely the same, perhaps it’s worth noting that on the opposite side - ownership - an example of how the ‘rebellion’ was taken can be found in Colts owner, Jim Irsay, who saw the running back issues as a result of the “bad faith” encouraged by their agents.
So what does the NFL memo say?
In reference to complaints and meetings held by running backs, the league used the term ‘reckless’ when describing what it believed to be the association’s errors.
“We have become aware of a formal Zoom hosted by the NFLPA with certain NFL running backs in which this advice was conveyed,” the memo continues. “This conduct is a clear violation of the union’s agreement to use ‘best efforts to faithfully carry out the terms and conditions of the [CBA]’ and ‘to see that the terms and conditions of all NFL player contracts are carried out in full by players.’ Further to that the memo stated: “The union’s conduct is also reckless as any player that chooses to follow this advice and improperly withhold services under his player contract will be subject to discipline and financial liability under the CBA, club rules and/or the player’s contract.”
Thus far the NFLPA has only made a brief statement in response. “This is ridiculous and without merit,” the statement reads.