WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith addresses reporters after the league and the NFL Players Association failed to reach an agreement in labor talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFLPA has filed for decertification and will no longer be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the players. Players will now be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** DeMaurice Smith
In the past 24 hours, the NFL as you know it has changed drastically. To recap, the players have decertified their union.
Former Bear, alternate players rep and Grizzly Detailer Hunter Hillenmeyer gives you a breakdown of why the players felt this move was necessary here.
Then individual players then filed a lawsuit against the owners, claiming antitrust violations. While superstar players Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are all parties to the lawsuit, no Bear is.
The NFL owners then took the step of locking out the players, and released a statement detailing the move. It reads, in part:
The clubs believe that this step is the most effective way to accelerate efforts to reach a new agreement without disruption to the 2011 season ... Our message to the fans is this: We know that you are not interested in any disruption to your enjoyment of the NFL. We know that you want football. You will have football. This will be resolved. Our mission is to do so as soon as possible and put in place with the players an improved collective bargaining agreement that builds on our past success and makes the future of football and the NFL even better – for the teams, players, and fans.
Bears president Ted Phillips followed up with a statement from the team, echoing the owners' thoughts:
We’re disappointed in the need to take this step, but it is necessary for the long- term health of our league. Ultimately we believe an agreement will be reached at the bargaining table. As an individual club, our team focus is on our preparation for the 2011 season and we want Bears fans to know we are going to continue to do everything we can within the League rules to prepare for a championship season. Our immediate focus is on preparing for the draft. We also continue to evaluate our team and will be ready to take advantage of all avenues to improve our team once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Some aspects of this offseason may look different, but our commitment to winning remains the same. We need to build off the success we had in 2010. We are committed to our fan base and appreciate their patience throughout this process. We will do our best to create opportunities for Bears fans to ask questions and keep them informed of what is happening with their team and the labor discussions. We still plan to host fan events this offseason starting with our “Ultimate Weekend” which includes our Draft Party and Bears Expo at Soldier Field. A deal will get done and we expect to play football in 2011. Our goal remains the same as we prepare to play, bringing a Super Bowl title back to Chicago.
The reassuring part of their message is that they are confident that football will be played this fall, but until a collective bargaining agreement is signed, football is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed? Plenty of posturing, litigation and fingerpointing.