The inevitable has come. The NFL Players Association has decertified as of 2PM Pacific time today and no longer exists as a union, renouncing its authority to bargain on behalf of NFL players.
Despite a dizzying and rather funny series of 11th-hour Twitter skirmishes, the NFLPA and the league owners were unable to find common ground. With ten minutes until the 5pm ET deadline for decertification, the union gave the owners the ultimatum to release 10 years of audited financial information - heavily guarded information and the pivot point for all the negotiations thus far - or decertification would occur. The owners failed to agree in time, the deadline passed, and the union made good on its threat.
The greatest significance of the union ceasing to exist is that it removes the league's protection against antitrust lawsuits brought on by the players, who can now seek a legal injunction that would prevent the lockout threatened by the owners. This is serious power on the part of the players, especially in light of the fact that the overseeing judge, David Doty, has a history of decisions favoring the players.
In other words, this does not rule out a 2011 NFL season. It also does not affect the draft, which will occur as normal. It does, however, forebode a long and ugly courtroom fight, an unpredictable and labor-dominated offseason, hazy and false information typical to high-profile courtroom cases, and leftover animosity that could sow the seeds for another labor dispute years down the road - as the last dispute did for this one.
We here at 17 Power will provide any pertinent headlines and opinions on the labor dispute that come forth, but our main goal is to strive to remain focused on the draft and the Seahawks during this time. Someone has to keep the Internet sane.