About NFLPA Frequently Asked Questions
How does the union work?
Player Members on each NFL team elect both a Player Representative and an Alternate Player Representative to serve on the Board of Player Representatives. The NFLPA works from the bottom-up. All power and authority to do anything in the NFLPA comes from the Board of Reps-who are elected by the player members.
The Board of Player Reps meets at least once a year, and makes all of the important decisions for the organization. For example, the Board:
- sets annual membership dues;
- adopts an annual budget;
- elects a President and ten Vice-Presidents for two-year terms;
- elects an Executive Director;
- drafts and implements regulations governing the agents and the maximum fees they can charge players;
- authorizes safety studies.
What is the role of the Player Reps?
In addition to serving on the Board of Rep, the Player Rep (and the Alternate):
- collect membership dues or check-off cards from their teammates;
- help teammates with grievances and fine appeals;
- collect group licensing authorizations from other team members;
- act as spokesmen for the organization on their team and in their local communities;
- bring important issues to the full Board for action.
What is a grievance?
A grievance is a dispute between a player and a club or the League concerning his individual contract or the CBA. The NFLPA normally represents the individual player in his grievance, and is successful in considerably more than half of the cases. Filing a grievance is a legally guaranteed right of the player, so long as the grievance has merit. A player cannot be discriminated against for filing a claim. There are two types of grievances.
An injury grievance applies when a player is released by a team while he is injured and unable to play. A typical injury grievance involves a player who comes to camp, passes the physical, later suffers an injury or re-injury, and then is cut by the team during the same year. To have a valid injury grievance, the player must file within twenty-five (25) days of when he is released by the club. If a player wins an injury grievance, he gets the salary he would have received if the club had kept him until he was healthy. However, he can only win salary for the year he is injured, and not for any subsequent years. The non-injury grievance procedure applies to most other disputes between players and clubs.
Examples of non-injury grievances include:
- a player challenges a fine or suspension by his club;
- a player claims an incentive bonus which is disputed by the club;
- a player can't play because of a previous year's injury and claims the collectively-bargained Injury Protection Benefit.
For non-injury grievances (most other cases), a player must file within fifty (50) days from the date the dispute arises. For example, a player who files a grievance over a club fine would need to file his case within fifty days of when the fine was imposed by the head coach.
Are NFL players eligible for workers’ compensation?
Players Injured while playing for their club maybe entitled to benefits under state workers’ compensation laws. Although there are differences from state-to-state, workers’ compensation benefits generally take three different forms (some or all of which may be available to you):
-Disability pay or wage loss benefits to provide compensation for any wages lost as the result of injury;
-Lump-sum benefits to provide compensation for permanent loss of function. This may be available even if you are still being paid salary in some states;
-Medical benefits for medical expenses related to the work injury. This may be your most important benefit as the Club will not pay for medical treatment after you leave the team and private insurance may not cover a work-related injury.
YOU must act to protect your right to workers’ compensation for your injury. Failing to act will result in the loss of these important benefits. There are time limitations for filing and the time limitations begin to run in many states from the date of injury, whether you are being paid or not!
Therefore, if you have not already done so, you should immediately contact a member of the NFLPA Workers’ Compensation Panel Attorneys in your team city to discuss your injury and potential claim for benefits.
What medical rights do players have?
The CBA gives players the right to a second medical opinion concerning their physical ability or inability to play football. The club must pay for this provided the player:
- First consults with the club physician prior to seeing the second opinion physician; and
- Makes sure that the physician rendering the second opinion provides the club with a copy of his/her report.
If a player is a candidate for surgery, he has the right to select a surgeon of his choice to perform the surgery. However, unless the surgery is an emergency, the player must first consult the club physician and give due consideration to any recommendation made by the club physician. All medical bills are to be paid by the club.
The CBA also gives a player the right to examine his medical or trainers' records twice a year--once during the pre-season and again after the regular season. Also, a player or former player may obtain a copy of his medical file upon request during the off-season, and his personal physician may obtain a copy of his medical records at any time. If the club physician notifies any club representative that a player has a medical condition which could adversely affect his performance or health, the physician must also notify the player. If the condition can be significantly aggravated by the player continuing to play, the physician must notify the player of this in writing before he can return to the field.
What is termination pay?
The Termination Pay benefit provides a guarantee of 100% of a player's "paragraph 5 [base] salary" if he has completed four or more credited seasons. A player must be released after the club's first regular season game to get the benefit, and he must have made the active/inactive list at some point in the season. A player must claim termination pay between the end of the regular season and no later than February 1. If the claim is made before or after those dates it may not be valid.
How is the Salary Cap adjusted?
The free agency/cap system has built-in protections for players assuring that various dollar amounts for minimum salaries and tenders will increase along with league revenues during the term of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Since gate revenues increase each year along with built-in increases in network TV contracts, there is a higher cap each year. Meanwhile, individual clubs have to spend at least 84% of the Salary Cap on player salaries and benefits each year, and the clubs as a group have to average over 50% to be in compliance with the CBA rules.
How long does the current CBA go?
In 2011, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a new CBA. The 2011 CBA extends through the 2020 season.