There seems to be dissent in the ranks of players, as their designated reps continue the mediation sideshow in a Federal district court. According to Daniel Kaplan at the Sports Business Journal, a group of "as many as 70 players" is planning to file a motion with Judge Nelson's court seeking specific representation in the antitrust suit against the NFL filed by Brady, et al.
This group of so-called "mid-tier" players was unhappy that the first round of mediation ended the way it did last month. Reading between the lines - not too much of a stretch here - that sounds as though this group of players wanted the NFLPA to give more consideration to the last-minute offer made by the NFL, moments before the deadline to decertify as a union.
How this all shakes out remains to be seen It does, however, signal some dissent among the players, a group that's been mostly united through the labor battle, thus far. Public dissension among players would be smiled upon by the league and owners, who could no doubt use it as a big wedge at the bargaining table and the court of public opinion.
It is important to remember that this is a relatively small group of players. The NFLPA, the former NFLPA, represented nearly 2,000. The players reportedly fought the NFL's rookie wage scale proposal that would have had a big impact on "mid-tier" veteran players in the free agent market, i.e. these guys. Was this group of players so unhappy with the breakdown of talks that they would have been willing to swallow a deal like this? Or were they just confident that it was ultimately a push? As one-sided as the owners' proposal might have been, the mid-tier guys would have suffered potentially because of the rookie wage scale issue, but more so because salaries for those players will take the biggest hit compared to what they are now as owners continue to throw dollars at big time free agents or ponying up extensions for franchise-type players.
Player rep Mike Vrabel responded to the news as you might expect.
That's why we're here. That's why Ben [Leber] and I are here. We're players here to represent players and De works for us. They do (have a seat). And if they're unhappy with that seat, we have to vote in a new executive committee, and a new board of reps.
Wake me when this nightmare's over.
[Note by VanRam, 04/20/11 3:25 PM EDT ] Could this potentially change the playing field in the court battle? Florio at Pro Football Talk notes that the league could file a brief ASAP noting that Vrabel's comments prove their argument that the NFLPA decertification was a "sham" move.