Union contends new OT system must be collectively bargained
UPDATED (12:07 p.m.)...
ORLANDO, Fla.--The NFL Players Association contends that it should have a say about the new overtime format for postseason games approved by the league Tuesday.
George Atallah, the union's assistant executive director of external affairs, said the union believes that the new overtime system must be collectively bargained with the players.
Atallah declined further comment.
The league disputed the union's contention.
"The rule change does not have to be collectively bargained," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
According to the league, its obligation to the union under the collective bargaining agreement was to discuss the issue with the players and get their input.
"We did that," Goodell said. "At the end of the day, just like with the coaches [some of whom objected to the process by which the new overtime format was approved], the ownership has to make the decision."
It's not clear how the dispute would be resolved if the union presses the issue. The union perhaps could file a case with Stephen Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania law professor who serves as the NFL's special master, putting him in charge of resolving disputes between the franchise owners and the union arising from their collective bargaining agreement.
The owners voted, 28-4, here Tuesday to approve the new system, which had been recommended by the NFL's rule-making competition committee. The owners approved the new overtime format for postseason games only, but left open the possibility of using the new system in regular season games at some point. That issue is to be revisited at an owners' meeting scheduled for May in Dallas, or next year.
The players expressed the view that the overtime system should not be changed when players and union representatives met with members of the competition committee last month at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
The new overtime system eliminates the possibility of a team winning a postseason game with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.
Competition committee members have said they didn't propose the new system for regular season games in part because of wariness that the possibility of longer games would increase the risk of injuries being suffered by players.
The owners' vote to approve the new overtime system comes with them in the process of attempting to negotiate a new labor deal with the union. There has been little apparent progress in the bargaining and the sport has entered a year without a salary cap. Union leaders have said they expect the owners to lock out the players in 2011.
Under the new system, the team that gets the ball first in overtime can win the game with a touchdown. If that team gets a field goal, the other club gets a possession and can win the game with a touchdown or tie it with a field goal. If it gets a tying field goal, the game is sudden death from there. If neither team scores on its first possession of overtime, the game proceeds on a sudden-death basis.
Competition committee members said they proposed the rule because of a 16-year trend in which the team that got the ball first in overtime had come to win a significantly higher percentage of the games.
Regular season games, at least for now, will continue to be played under the current overtime system, in which a coin flip determines which team gets possession first and the first team to score wins.
March 24, 2010; 9:17 AM ET
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