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NFL labor agreement protects players’ pay during potential pandemic shutdown

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the collective bargaining agreement does not have a “force majeure” provision, which would prevent someone from fulfilling a contract because of unforeseeable circumstances.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said his players won’t be subjected to any pandemic-related pay cuts. The NBA will cut its players’ pay 25% next month.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said his players won’t be subjected to any pandemic-related pay cuts. The NBA will cut its players’ pay 25% next month.
Ric Tapia/AP Images for NFLPA

The head of the NFL Players Association says the new collective bargaining agreement does not have a similar clause to one that allows the NBA to start cutting players’ pay in mid-May.

Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said Wednesday on a call with reporters that the CBA with the NFL does not have a “force majeure” provision, which would prevent someone from fulfilling a contract because of unforeseeable circumstances. The NBA is using that clause to begin taking a 25% chunk out of players’ checks starting May 15 for a league that shut down March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NFL began its new business year March 18 and allowed teams to begin virtual offseason programs Monday. The draft begins Thursday night, with the 2020 schedule expected to be released in early May.

Smith says it’s clear under the new CBA what happens if NFL games are canceled, and the union will follow that labor deal depending on developments.

“We’re bound by a contract that we call the collective bargaining agreement,” Smith said. “And certainly it has provisions in it that are different than other sports.”