NFLPA takes fight to Congress

Even in the midst of the playoffs, when fans may not be concentrating on the NFL’s failure to reach a collective bargaining agreement, the NFL Players’ Association has sought to urge Congress to force team owners to act before March 3.  Between 2008, when league officials decided not to extend the current agreement, and 2010, when the agreement actually expired, the NFLPA tripled its lobbying spending over the years before.

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth told Politico that players need to “level the playing field” before Congress, considering the league has had a strong lobbying presence on the Hill for years.  (For more on the NFL’s lobbying history, see lobbyists.info’s free white paper “Political Activity of the National Football League.”)  He argues that if there is a lockout next season, he, along with his wife and newborn child, would be left without health insurance.

Players contend that Congress can exercise its oversight authority to force the league, which has been granted an antitrust exemption, to force the league’s hand, though Congress traditionally has stayed out of labor fights.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lavar Smith (R-Tx.) says the committee does not have any hearings scheduled, and the chairman does not seem interested in the dispute.

“The NFL and NFLPA are literally and figuratively big boys.  They do not need Congress’s help to referee every business dispute.  That’s what courts and labor negotiation processes are for,” Smith told Politico.

Jeff Pash, the NFL’s chief negotiator, says he is frustrated with the NFLPA’s lack of effort at the negotiating table, stating that the players are spending much more time and energy in the media and on Capitol Hill than actually trying to work out a deal with owners.

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