At a time when NFL players seem to be realizing that better pay will come only through labor strife, the NFL Players Association has a message for its membership: “Save now. Fight later.”
The union recently posted a video on Twitter with that message. The message to save money is a sensible one even without a potential work stoppage in four years.
But the fundamental problem continues to be this -- many of the players who may be expected to go without pay in 2021 have none to save now because they’re currently playing in college or high school. So they will have saved little or nothing, or otherwise may have nothing, if/when a strike happens. Still, plenty of guys presently in the NFL will still be in the NFL in four years, and if as many of them as possible have enough money to go a year without playing, the players have a chance of winning.
It’s nevertheless a small chance, in part because the league would likely hire replacement players and continue to stage games, like the league did in 1987. And as the games go on and players who want to play are tempted to return and get paid to play football, it can all fall apart. Like 1987.
Then there’s the “fight later” aspect of the message. Frankly, players can fight now. (Or, more accurately, in about nine months.) None of them are required to show up for the voluntary portion of the annual offseason program, which is essentially a license to legally strike from every April through June. If they can’t muster the will to collectively boycott the offseason program at some point over the next three offseasons, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to launch and maintain a work stoppage after the next four football seasons.