The Ultimate ‘Wedge’ Buster??

By Mike Florio
Updated: February 20, 2010

NEW YORK — When the National Football League announced that former NFLPA president Troy Vincent had taken a job with the league office, heads jerked throughout the football-following world.

The man who long coveted the chance to run the union — and who was rejected by the rank and file a year ago after a multiple-month smear campaign — had joined forces with management. Of all the former players whom the league could have hired, the league chose Vincent.

Predictably, some believe that the NFL will use Vincent as a “wedge” to divide players, per Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal.

Even more predictably, the league denies any such motivation, explaining that Vincent say the job posted online and applied for it.

In our view, however, everything the league does until a new CBA is finalized must first be scrutinized from the perspective of the labor situation.

Though the NFL hasn’t said it, the cumulative impact of its actions of late send a clear message — getting a new labor deal on terms favorable to the owners occupies the top spot on the league’s to-do list.

And the league surely wants to drive a wedge between the players and the union, for the same reasons the union would love to drive a wedge between the owners.

As one source recently pointed out, this labor fight will be a war of attrition, with the side that realizes the most internal harm the most likely to cry “uncle.”

The risk, of course, is that efforts to divide the players could in reality unite them. For example, to the extent that some players are experiencing buyer’s remorse regarding the decision to choose De Smith and not Vincent, Vincent’s perceived defection could erase those doubts.

So, basically, this thing continues to get more and more interesting.