Sunday, March 6, 2011

If Union Decertifies Will There Be Football in 2011?

We've heard a lot about the NFLPA decertifying (or technically disclaiming interest). In a nutshell, that means that the Union would dissolve (or transform into a trade association) and the players could then sue the NFL for antitrust violations, such as free agency rules and roster limits. Yes these are antitrust violation (or competition violations) because competitors, such as the 32 NFL teams, can't get together and impose restrictions on the marketplace.

For a primer on decertification, click here. It's all explained in this article.

Right now, these antitrust violations are found in the CBA, so the NFL is insulated from liability. So that means the players can't sue. However, once the Union decertifies, and the NFL unilaterally imposes league-wide regulations such as a roster size limits and free agency, the players could then sue for these newly imposed antitrust violations. No CBA will be in place at that time, so the NFL would no longer be protected.

For NFL fans, including poolies in keeper leagues who were looking forward to protecting Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis at a relative discount, the question is this:

If the Union decertifies, will there be football in 2011?

In all likelihood, the answer is yes.

How? When the Union decertifies, it will immediately seek an injunction to block a lockout. This means the league will lose its power to institute a lockout.

Why might it be tough for the NFL to lockout the players post-decertification? Once the Union decertifies, an attempt by the owners to lock them out could be challenged as an antitrust violation. The argument would be that the teams have unreasonably restrained trade by agreeing not to deal with all of the players. The players could also argue that the lockout is an unfair labor practice because it interferes with their right to choose whether or not to form a union.

So there may well be football in 2011, however, this time without a CBA in place.

And most importantly, Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis are in play.

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