Monday, August 29, 2011

The NFL CBA and Contract Holdouts

The Tennessee Titans put Chris Johnson, their standout running back, on the their reserve/did not report to training camp list today. Chris Johnson has held out for much of training camp in his own personal lockout because he wants to renegotiate his current playing contract to make him one of the highest paid players in the league. The holdout tactic is nothing new as players such as Emmitt Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson have used the tactic before. I thought that this was such a big issue that something would be included in the new collective bargaining agreement that would limit the practice.

Johnson is in the fourth year of a five year deal where he is scheduled to make $1.065 million this season, which would barely cover the $840,000 in potential fines that he has rung up for missing practices. Under Article 42, Section 1 (vi) of the new CBA, any unexcused late reporting or absence from preseason training camp by a player under contract comes with a $30,000 a day fine.

It is obvious that these fines have not been effective in stopping or deterring contract holdouts from occurring. I am currently writing and editing a law journal article on this topic where I propose that players and their teams enter into mandatory mediation prior to holding out, as opposed to salary or non-binding arbitration, which is prescribed for disputes over minimum contracts. I will either post that article or let you know where you can read it if I find a Journal to publish it. Nonetheless, the new CBA did not do enough to address the holdout epidemic and it will be costly to the players' teams and their fans. If and when Chris Johnson returns to the field for the Titans, he will be way behind the learning curve, which will have negative effect on the teams chances on winning the Super Bowl this season.

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