The NFL announced Monday it is filing a complaint against the NFLPA, claiming the union advised players to feign injuries to influence contract negotiations.
The league announced the complaint in a memo reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The memo names NFLPA president and former Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter.
“Early last summer and throughout training camp, leaders of the NFL Players Association, including President J.C. Tretter, have become increasingly vocal in advising NFL players dissatisfied with their current contracts to consider feigning or exaggerating injuries to avoid service as a way to increase their influence. in contract negotiations,” the memo reads.
The ongoing negotiations became contentious this offseason as All-Pros Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Jonathan Taylor failed to secure long-term contracts. Barkley and Jacobs ultimately signed one-year deals after being placed on the franchise tag, while Taylor remains sidelined on the physically unable to perform list in the final year of his rookie contract.
Other high-profile running backs, including Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry, spoke out in support of their fellow players reportedly participated in a Zoom meeting to discuss how the state of running back pay can be improved. Colts owners Jim Irsay criticized the running back complaints and meetings as “bad faith” at the behest of their agents.
The NFL memo referenced that running back meeting.
“We have become aware of a formal Zoom hosted by the NFLPA with certain NFL running backs in which this advice was conveyed,” the memo continues. “This conduct is a clear violation of the union’s commitment to ‘use the best efforts to perform faithfully.’ the terms of the [CBA]’ and ‘to ensure that the terms and conditions of all NFL player contracts are fully executed by players.’
“The union’s conduct is also reckless as any player who chooses to follow this advice and improperly omits services under his player contract will be subject to disciplinary action and financial liability under the CBA, the club’s rules and/or the player contract.”
The NFLPA disputed the memo in a brief statement, Pelissero reported.
“This is ridiculous and without merit,” reads the statement.
Tretter referenced injuries when discussing contract leverage on the Ross Tucker Podcast in July.
“You should try to create as much influence as you can…”
— Ross Tucker Podcast (@RossTuckerPod) July 18, 2023
“You have to try to create as much influence as possible in every situation,” Tretter said. “And that’s the difficult thing about the franchise tag, or movement restrictions: it reduces your influence. But then you have to find creative ways to exert influence elsewhere.
“I think we’ve seen issues – now I don’t think anyone would ever say there were fake injuries – but we’ve seen players who didn’t want to be where they are, with injuries that kept them from practicing. and play. But you cannot be fined or punished if you do not report the crime.
“So there are those kinds of problems. I don’t think I should ever recommend that, at least not publicly, but I think every player has to find a way to build leverage to try to get a fair deal. And that’s actually what all these guys are looking for: to be fairly compensated.”
Tretter did not immediately make a statement after news of the NFL memo broke.