NFLPA Response: With These Benevolent Owners, Who Needs A Union?

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After our editorial urging NFL players to form a union ran yesterday, we received the below reply from NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Atallah.


To the Deadspin Editorial Board from all NFL Players:

Everybody knows that unions are bad for the NFL and bad for America. They only stand in the way of progress and do not allow America's captains of industry to grow the game with benevolence for players and fans. Imagine how far the NFL would regress if players banded together and fought for better wages, hours, working conditions and benefits? It would be an apocalypse. It is obvious that all the progress made in these areas over the years is a result of the grand generosity of the NFL and NFL owners.


It was the NFL owners who granted free agency to NFL players and gave them the right to shop their talents on the open market. Without this type of foresight and leadership, NFL players would still be restricted to one team for their entire careers. In fact, NFL owners are so progressive that in the 2011 CBA they willingly gave up minimum cash spending for every team and set up a revenue sharing system with the players, allowing for equal and shared growth for the first time ever.

The NFL knows the importance of improving hours and working conditions, which is why they willingly stopped an 18-game schedule from happening and ended two-a-day practices all on their own. Why? Because the #NFLCares. They really do take player health and safety seriously and no union had to tell them to do that.

The players don't need to band together to fight for neutral arbitration either. The NFL realized on its own, over hard-fought discussions with itself over three years, that due process was required in the new drug policies and inserted true neutral arbitration. They did the same thing a few years ago as it related to fines for on-field conduct. What other professional sports league willingly dusted off a previous commissioner to oversee and eventually overrule a current commissioner, as it did in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal? And did you read Judge Barbara Jones's decision in the Ray Rice case? Classic NFL impartiality, once again. The NFL really does believe in fairness.

As to former players, NFL owners are a revelation and rival the most progressive American business institutions for the availability and administration of benefits to their employees. Did you know that NFL owners contribute directly to a Legacy Fund for former players? Or that there is a new neurocognitive benefit available? In the last round of negotiations, these new age business leaders really wanted to help support employees who wore the uniform decades ago and led the company to unprecedented success, so they sacrificed from the goodness of their hearts and their pockets to make it happen.


Sure, the NFL does silly things from time to time like disciplining players twice for the same offense, ignoring contracts, and threatening players who don't show up to the most important media event of all time, but those are minor issues that the League resolves all by itself, and never without logic or transparency. NFL players can always trust that NFL owners will be proactive and have their best interests in mind.

So we ask the esteemed Deadspin Editorial Board: Who needs a union with all this self-imposed progress?


George Atallah is the Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFLPA.