It turns out last week's extension of the collective-bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players only postponed the inevitable: The NFL Players Association has voted to decertify as a union after negotiations collapsed this afternoon. The move will bring the NFL's ongoing labor fight from the negotiating room to the courtroom, and could lead to the first work stoppage in football since 1987.
Decertifying allows the players to bring antitrust legislation against the NFL, which they have promised to do should owners lock them out. Owners in turn have threatened to lock players out upon when the current labor deal expires at midnight tonight.
At issue in the talks were how best to split the ever-increasing revenues the NFL brings in. Owners want players to give up a larger slice of the revenue pie, while also implementing an 18-game season and a rookie pay cap. Players have said they are content to continue playing under the current CBA, but wouldn't mind more money going towards health insurance for retired players.
Talks broke down today over the issue of owners providing a decade's worth of audited financial records to the NFLPA. The Players Association has said such openness is key if owners want to prove that they are indeed struggling under the current labor deal, as they claim.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has been named as a possible lead plaintiff in an antitrust lawsuit, defended the NFLPA's position on Twitter: "The NFL brought this fight to us — they want $1 billion back, we just want financial information to back up that request. ... They refuse to give that information to us. They think we should just trust them. Would you?" (via The Washington Post)