NFL Files Grievance Against Union

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The NFL has taken a significant step by filing a grievance, alleging that the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) provided counsel to running backs to exaggerate injuries, a move that the league contends is aimed at bolstering their negotiating leverage.

On September 11, the NFL lodged a grievance against the NFL Players Association, alleging that union leaders, including president JC Tretter, recommended running backs to “contemplate simulating or amplifying injuries” as a strategy to enhance their bargaining power in contract negotiations.

The NFL’s complaint, which is set for review by an arbitrator, was detailed in a memo addressed to the league’s management council executive committee. The league asserted that the union had made this suggestion to running backs during a pre-season Zoom meeting.

The league contended that any player who followed the union’s advice by feigning an injury would be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

“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,'” the memo said.

“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.”

The league’s grievance is seeking an injunction to halt such improper conduct by the union, along with any other remedies that the arbitrator deems appropriate.

Notably, star running backs Saquon Barkley of the Giants and Josh Jacobs of the Raiders have chosen not to sign their $10.1 million franchise tags, expressing dissatisfaction with the absence of long-term contracts. Meanwhile, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor finds himself embroiled in a contract dispute and, due to offseason ankle surgery recovery, began the season on the physically unable to perform list.

In a podcast interview with former NFL player Ross Tucker back in July, JC Tretter openly discussed the contractual challenges faced by running backs in the league.

“You need to try to create as much leverage as you possibly can,” Tretter said.

“And that’s the tough thing with the franchise tag, or being restricted in movement, is it decreases your leverage, but then you have to find creative ways to build leverage elsewhere.

“I think we’ve seen issues — now, I don’t think anybody would say they were fake injuries, but we’ve seen players who didn’t want to be where they currently are, have injuries that made them unable to practice and play, but you’re not able to get fined, and you’re not able to be punished for not reporting.

“So, there are issues like that. I don’t think I’m allowed to ever recommend that, at least publicly, but I think each player needs to find a way to build up leverage to try to get a fair deal. And that’s really what all these guys are looking for, is to be compensated fairly.”

 

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