As the world adjusts to the ramifications of a raging coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it's hard to imagine it was only a few weeks ago when the NFL found itself locked in a heated standoff with the NFLPA over the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides negotiated for months and still could not escape the ire of players who wanted the final proposal shot down. It was instead ratified following a narrow victory on March 14, but it's now facing a new problem. Eric Reid, and passionate advocate for players, is seeking to have the new CBA scrapped following an apparent change in the language of the deal that occurred after the votes were tallied.
"The change in CBA language after the vote, even if it were minor, is a big deal and grounds for invalidation," he said on social media. "But here the change has a major and direct impact on hundreds more disabled players and their families. Investigate. Invalidate."
Reid submitted a letter to the NFL and NFLPA through his attorneys, Ray Genco and Ben Meiselas, that revealed changes to the wording of the league's disability plan and himself posted screenshots on Twitter of the before and after language. Following the change, players who applied for Social Security disability insurance payments before Jan. 1, 2015 are now boxed out, with offsets being applied only to those who submitted an application after that date.
It's a change that could negatively impact thousands of former players, and Reid wants answers and a re-vote. In the aforementioned letter, his attorneys wrote:
"We have considered a number of potential remedial measures, but given the lack of transparency in altering the CBA and procedural and substantive infirmities we identified in our previous memo, the only acceptable solution would appear to be the immediate invalidation of the newly passed CBA and for a new vote to be taken so that players have access to all of the contractual language they are voting on. Further, we ask that you call for an independent investigation regarding how these changes occurred and the overall lack of transparency to membership during the CBA process."
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Meiselas explained more clearly why Reid wants to torpedo the CBA. Simply stated, during the course of helping ex-players navigate the language, he noticed a change in the provision from the original contract.
"We've been obviously critical of the CBA from the outset because it takes from disabled players,"Meiselas said, via SI.com. "And so in advising them, we were looking at it and pointing out where they had issues and where they were going to be likely getting less money. And then we saw it, and we go, 'I don't remember seeing this in Paragraph B.' And so Eric's letter demands the invalidation and an investigation and a re-vote -- because how do you stick in language that players didn't know they were voting for?
"It's perplexing and concerning, even if the changes were minor, that there was no transparency and no explanation. But here, the changes are major and drastically and dramatically impact disability benefits to players. ... [A re-vote] is the only logical answer."
Could there be another way to resolve this issue? Not in the eyes of Reid and his representation.
"When there's a potential manipulation of the language to an agreement, what's the alternative?" Meiselas said.
Neither the NFL nor the NFLPA have issued a statement on the matter.