Why do players need a union and what does it actually do?

What is the NFLPA?

  • The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is the union for professional football players in the National Football League.

Why do professional football players need a union?

  • The union allows players to stand together to protect their health, rights, and families.
  • The union started in 1956. Players used their combined strength to force owners to provide basics like clean uniforms and safer equipment.
  • In 2011, we negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) after an 18-week lockout by the owners.
  • That CBA focused on issues like free agency, the salary cap, rookie compensation, and minimum salaries.
  • The 2011 CBA will expire in 2021.
  • Our job is to represent players’ interests during negotiations for the next CBA and to make sure players are well informed and prepared for them.

What does the union do?

The NFLPA:

  • Represents all players in matters concerning wages, hours and working conditions and protects their rights as professional football players
  • Makes sure that the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are met
  • Negotiates and monitors retirement and insurance benefits
  • Provides other member services and activities
  • Provides assistance to charitable and community organizations
  • Enhances and defends the image of players and their profession on and off the field

How does the union work?

  • 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.
  • 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 Board of Player Reps).
  • The Board of Player Reps meets at least once a year and makes all of the important decisions for the organization.

Want to know more?

  • Explore Our History of Wins to learn how we’ve been fighting for player rights since 1956.
  • Browse Player Marketing Solutions to find out how we’re protecting group licensing rights and generating income for every NFL player through our marketing and licensing arm Players, Inc.