Posted by Will Brinson
So, as it turns out, there IS some sort of deadline involving the NFL labor strife -- and, according to NFLPA Union leader DeMaurice Smith, it's passed.
Except it's just an "internal deadline," and it was discovered by the Associated Press on Saturday, in the New England Patriots locker room, in the form of a letter and written by Professor Plum Smith himself to the players, urging them to save now that a lockout is all but certain, as the time has come and gone for negotiating a new CBA.
"That deadline has now passed," he wrote. "It is important that you protect yourself and your family."
According to the AP report, the letter was dated Wednesday and just happened to be "strewn across a table" in the Pats locker room in the middle of Saturday media availability. When a reporter inquired as to, you know, what the hell the letter was doing out in the open, a Pats employee "flipped the copies face-down."
A couple of things: first, football players should be saving money anyway, regardless of the labor situation in the NFL. Irrationally plowing through millions of dollars with nary a thought to the future is just begging for Chapter 7.
Secondly, it's worth noting that the union claimed in the letter that the league plans to cancel healthcare for the union and they'll file a grievance with the NFL over the cancellation because of language in the CBA specifically requiring teams to provide health insurance "through the Plan Year in which they are released or otherwise sever employment." Healthcare plans typically refresh at the start of the calendar year, meaning teams would technically owe through the end of 2011 when it comes to health coverage, unless there's an argument that the CBA is negated and therefore it's not a requirement (or something along those lines). Either way, healthcare coverage will be a sticking point for friendly negotiations once this gets heated.
"You're going to cancel somebody's health insurance and maybe they've got a baby that's due in the offseason?" Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light said. "Yeah, it gets personal."
Finally, are we really supposed to bite on this as being a legitimate "accidental find"? That's not to say the AP reporter didn't actually discover the letters, but the players want us to believe that a ton of copies distributed from the union to the players just happened to get left on a table in a locker room (frequently inhabited by the press, mind you) for five days without anyone thinking "Hey, maybe we shouldn't let the world know about our internal deadline?"
Because that seems about as plausible as the notion that these two sides can't figure out a way to split up a ton of money before the 2010 season ends so that fans can go on their merry way and keep caring about football as the NFL's popularity continues to reach new heights.
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