A group about 70 less rich, less famous NFL players are about to hire their own law firm to get them a seat at the bargaining table. What does this mean? Like everything else in tightlipped lockout land, who the fuck knows? But here's our best interpretation.
The group is reportedly comprised of players who were unhappy that deadline talks broke off last month. That alone might indicate they're unhappy with the decertified union's progress, or even the lockout in general. SportsBusiness Journal, which broke the news, makes sure to mention that the ten involved in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case are mostly established stars, but these players "are considered far lower in the pecking order [than and perhaps would have more to lose from a protracted standoff."
These 70 players want to intervene in the case to make sure they receive a place in any court-ordered mediation, and do not dispute the lawsuit. But there does appear to be some wagon-circling.
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel, one of the plaintiffs in the Brady case, told ESPN's Ed Werder during a break in Wednesday's mediation session that he was unaware of the report but said everybody on the players side is unhappy with how the mediation ended in Washington.
Vrabel said that abandoning the cause in this way would be the wrong way to demonstrate dissatisfaction.
"We all have a seat at the table already. If they're unhappy, then we should get together and elect a new executive board."
This shouldn't be a time for panic among the players, or a sign that inevitable cracks in the front have started to show. In any large union, there's never going to be unanimity on the part of members on how things are handled by their representatives. And for those making a few hundred thousand a year, their goals and limitations might be markedly different from those of multimillionaires. So while Roger Goodell and the league might be tempted to this as a large section of the players wanting to get back to work as soon as possible, it's not so drastic. It's just the rank-and-file making sure their own voices are heard.