The worm continues to turn in the dispute between the NFL and the entity called the NFL Players Association (the now-decertified-former trade union). When the details of the talks concerning the new CBA began coming to light, it was revealed that the NFL owners had secured provisions in their TV deals that guarantee them revenue even in the event of a work stoppage, to the tune of roughly four and a half billion dollars. This "lockout insurance" has become a major source of friction in the CBA discussions as well as a prime aspect of the public vilification of the owners. Earlier this month it was reported that federal judge David Doty ruled in favor of the players, claiming the NFL violated the CBA in negotiating this lockout clause (what this ruling really means remains to be seen). From a PR perspective, the owners have been cast as Machiavellian figures manipulating behind the scenes to protect their own interests at the cost of the players' livelihood and the fan experience.
Now it's the players' revealing their own rainy day fund. According to a report this morning on NFL.com, the NFLPA has begun contacting eligible players to receive incremental payments from a lockout fund the organization previously established.
A number of players have received emails and paperwork from the NFLPA informing them that they are entitled to what us regular folks would call "unemployment checks."
According to an NFLPA source, the maximum payments to an individual player would total $60,000, to be paid out this offseason during the lockout. The fund was created via player dues and right's fees during 2009 and 2010. If a player was on a 53-man roster for all 34 weeks of the regular season during those two years, then he would be eligible for that maximum, $60,000 payment, which would be distributed in six projected increments beginning April 15.
Here's the exact wording of the email:
We are e-mailing you to inform you that the NFLPA Board of Player Directors approved the payout from the Lockout Fund to begin on April 15, in six installments or until the lockout ends. In order to start receiving your payments, please fill out the attached direct deposit enrollment form and return it to us with a voided check from your checking account or bank letter verifying the account information. We will e-mail you at the address that you provide on the form when payments are sent to your bank account.
Please note that any other future payments that you may receive from the NFLPA or NFL PLAYERS Inc (for example player marketing deals or royalty payments) will be deposited into this account and you will be notified via email of the deposit.
The knee-jerk reaction here is to claim that the Players Association is guilty of being as insidious as the owners in their expectation of a lockout, but in reality the NFLPA is simply doing what it's supposed to do -- look after the players. Of course, with all the bad blood surrounding the CBA negotiations, the move comes off as just another in the long daisy chain of current NFL melodrama, another posturing that both sides are setting up for a prolonged standoff.