The NFL Players Association and the league were unable to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining and as a result, the NFLPA filed the necessary paper work to officially decertify Friday evening at 5 p.m. EST, making a lockout all but certain.
"The NFL Players Association ... has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the NFL. The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of the current and former professional football players."
The current CBA does not expire until 11:59 p.m., but the NFLPA had a 5 p.m. deadline to decertify. But choosing to go that route, the union has effectively chosen to fight the owners in court with a legal battle rather than negotiations. NFLPA executive director De Smith address the media briefly around 4:45 p.m., saying, "We informed the owners that significant differences remained, that if there was going to be a request for an extension that we asked for 10 years of audited financial records to accompany any extension." Basically, the players want to know how the owners are spending their money, but the owners are not budging on that issues.
The league issued their own statement Friday night, reading, in part:
At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification' and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.
The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.
The NFL is expected to officially lock out the players Friday at midnight, with the next step being a battle in the courts.