Posted by Will Brinson
Earlier today, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that the NFLPA plans to work throughout the weekend despite a report that the players were going to take off until Monday.
A source of Freeman's notes, too, that "the players seem to be in no hurry to ratify the CBA."
Of course, the reality is that the CBA won't just be ratified by a majority vote from the players.
There's actually a couple of things that have to happen first, where a settlement of the lawsuits is reached, the union is reformed and then the remaining issues are collectively bargained.
So let's take a look at what, precisely, will need to happen for us to get on the path to kicking off the football (off)season.
For starters, there are still a number of issues that need to be resolved, including grievances between the NFLPA and NFL, $320 million in back benefits that the NFLPA believes it's due from 2010, how to handle substance-abuse and drug testing (HGH testing isn't going to be a clear-cut answer, despite what Jeff Pash says).
No, this doesn't include handling allegedly disgruntled plaintiff Vincent Jackson, who seems intent on being freed from the franchise tag and/or recouping money from the time he lost during his previous seasons as a restricted free agent.
But Jackson is involved in the first step of the process, which is wrapping up the settlement.
For that to happen, the two sides need to agree on the settlement's final deal points and language. (Ever dealt with a lawyer and/or lawsuit before? This sort of thing can get heated, minute and complicated.) To reach a settlement, the two sides will also need to figure out what to do with the lockout insurance case.
Once the NFLPA's executive board votes to send this to the named plaintiffs (they've done so in a conditional fashion already), Tom Brady and the rest of the named plaintiffs have to sign off on the settlement.
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As soon as that happens and the court approves the settlement, the players can begin reforming the union. That requires some serious paperwork, though it's likely the trade association known as the NFLPA will have such items squared away. Most important, it also requires 51 percent of the players turning in their union cards and re-forming.
Yes, it's possible this could happen electronically, but it's more than likely that we end up seeing team facilities opened so players can come in and sign the cards and re-form.
It's also possible that incorporating such a process could be a conditional part of the settlement, though it can't be demanded by either side necessarily and shouldn't be a dealbreaker.
Once the players are re-unionized, the two sides can collectively bargain the remaining issues mentioned above.
What this means, more than anything, is that we're not just a simple vote away from getting football back. Though the owners ratified a proposal that might not have been seen by the players, and though we might feel "halfway done," there's still work ahead before we get a new CBA.
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