Back in 2011, the NFLPA itself was prepared with a strong work stoppage strategy. As soon as it became clear that there would be no agreement in place with owners by the time the deadline passed, the union decertified itself and took the NFL to court as a means of settling the labor dispute.
NFLPA leadership, however, does not feel that the players themselves were especially well-prepared last time around. Why? They didn't have enough money saved.
Why is this coming up now? Four years out from another potential work stoppage (the 2011 collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021), Atallah wants players to be prepared with more savings so that they can extract more concessions from the owners next time. "Money management is probably the No. 1 thing that we have tried to impress upon players over the last couple of years," he said.
"We need players of every generation to really help the young guys understand what it takes to go through some labor strife. For the players who went through it in 2011, the union administration and player leadership did everything it could to prepare players across the league. I think it needs to happen again with the same sort of fervor."
Atallah said he doesn't know which issues will be important to the union by the time 2021 rolls around because the composition of its membership is always changing, but he acknowledged that the players won't be able to work on deals for their preferred issues if they don't show the owners that they can last longer than the four months they held out for their checks last time.