NBC Sports

If Cyrus Mehri gets the job, he vows to get quickly to work. He’ll have little choice.

In the press release issued after HBO televised the announcement of Mehri’s candidacy to take the reins of the NFL Players Association, Mehri issued a press release in which he vowed to negotiate a new labor deal early.

“America’s Game deserves better,” Mehri said. “We will provide a new vision, new innovations, and a new successful path forward for NFL players. We will bring out the best of all stakeholders in America’s Game. In doing so, we will show America, and particularly our youth that, despite differences, the NFLPA and the NFL can amicably resolve disputes and shepherd America’s Game forward into a new golden era. And we will begin by urging that negotiations on a new CBA start early. The players cannot afford to wait three years.”

It all sounds good on paper (or on your screen), but it will be hard to do an early deal absent real leverage. And with the current labor deal in place through 2020, there’s no leverage until it expires — and until the players show the resolve to strike.

That’s the challenge the NFLPA always will face, regardless of who’s running it. The deal done in 2011 resulted directly from the reality that the players didn’t want the lockout to linger into the regular season, so they took the best deal they could get. And the ongoing growth in the salary cap coupled with reduced offseason and in-season practice intensity show that the deal isn’t nearly as bad as the critics (who has fallen conspicuously silent over the last four years) claimed.

Of course, that won’t matter in the throes of a full-blown campaign. As we all learned last year, truth can be twisted and distorted and hollow promises can be made in order to get votes, regardless of whether those promises ever become action.

Ultimately, the only action that will matter for the players is this: A resolve to utilize the same tools under the labor laws that the owners already are sharpening. No executive director — Smith, Mehri, Gene Upshaw, or any of the others who will come out of the woodwork between now and March — can get the best possible deal is the rank-and-file aren’t willing to file out of the locker rooms and practice facilities for as long as it takes to get the deal that they want.

NBC Sports. (2017, August 23). Mike Florio. Mehri wants to start CBA negotiations early. Retrieved from http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/08/23/mehri-wants-to-start-cba-negotiations-early/