The NFL has been deliberately slow in confronting the idea of a canceled or highly modified season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but some details of the league’s talks with its players union over the possibility is starting to leak out.
So far, the NFLPA isn’t liking what it’s hearing.
The NFLPA informed its board of representatives on Tuesday that the NFL had proposed 35 percent of player salaries in 2020 be held in escrow to help manage costs for the season, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Basically, the league wants to hold back a sizable chunk of player salaries in anticipation of decreased revenues to some or all teams being unable to allow fans into games.
The union’s reaction to the proposal wasn’t very welcoming, according to an executive.
How did the NFLPA react to the NFL's proposal to escrow 35% of player salaries this season?
NFLPA executive Don Davis told players on a conference call: "Basically, we told them to kick rocks."
Union's stance is any escrow deal must be collectively bargained. https://t.co/b3c7ihAOiD
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 7, 2020
It’s not hard to understand why players would react to the idea in such faction. NFL owners have raked in profits and seen their franchise values skyrocket into the billions for years with player pay lagging behind. Now, the league wants the players to help absorb its losses the one year it might not be profitable, and in a season in which they will face the dangers of a pandemic.
More players reacted to the news of the proposal on Twitter, and their universal rejection and derision of the idea indicates the idea probably isn’t going to get much traction.
NFL players react to league’s escrow idea
Lol everyone will sit out and not play until they get their stuff together before we do this 😂 https://t.co/cqOuQfQvr8
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) July 7, 2020
— Taylor Lewan (@TaylorLewan77) July 8, 2020
We should get a bonus if we play!!! We putting our family’s at risk. https://t.co/bQI5Bp7IFB
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) July 7, 2020
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward reacted by retweeting this agent’s take on the proposal.
NFL; “hey guys go risk your life and your families lives while we fly in our private jets and sit in our private sky boxes and watch you possibly die for our profits and entertainment. Also let us hold 35% of your money and keep the interest and profits!” Sure Jan https://t.co/j8SH6iORjn
— DEC Management (@davidcanter) July 7, 2020
Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer followed suit with agent Drew Rosenhaus.
This is an absurd ask by the NFL. If anything the players deserve a bonus for playing with the added risk of contracting Covid 19 and potentially passing it on to their families. https://t.co/4REP0ToP4E
— Drew Rosenhaus (@RosenhausSports) July 7, 2020
Former players also didn’t seem very keen on the idea.
Billionaires love to make people think they are always hurting. https://t.co/RxSN5dlHhj
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) July 7, 2020
If these billionaires don’t GTFOH https://t.co/Pcc5wMBL6d
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) July 7, 2020
Puppeteers trying to save some money . https://t.co/bmKDoA5V9K
— Ryan Grant (@RyanGrant25) July 7, 2020
This is gonna be a contentious couple of weeks between the NFL and the NFLPA.
I HOPE it stays behind closed doors but, I feel like this tweet is a rather large implication that it will not.
Ultimately season will be played tho... right?
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) July 7, 2020
If this is all starting to feel very familiar, you might also be a baseball fan. MLB and the MLBPA went back and forth with proposals for weeks, with doomed ideas like revenue sharing and sliding scale wages publicly dismissed within minutes of them being reported.
MLB negotiations eventually resulted in an impasse over the number of games played in the 2020 season, at which point MLB commissioner Rob Manfred simply imposed a 60-game season and potentially faced a grievance from the MLBPA.
Hopefully, the NFL fight doesn’t get nearly as ugly. That might be easier said than done.
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