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NFLPA tries to decertify, head off lockout by owners

DeMaurice Smith speaks during a news conference. (Undated

DeMaurice Smith speaks during a news conference. (Undated file photo) Credit: Getty Images

When in doubt, fall back on old successes.

That’s what the NFL Players Association plans to do this week as its next step in pursuing a new collective bargaining agreement with the league's owners.

Lawyers for the NFLPA are expected to go before U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty and ask that he decertify the union, a tactic the union last used in 1989 to get a new CBA that included a free agency system.

If Doty grants the NFLPA’s petition, it will virtually eliminate the league’s anti-trust exemption and leave it open to lawsuits from individual players. The last time the union decertified, it was Reggie White’s suit that eventually brought a 1993 settlement and a CBA agreement.

If the union successfully decertifies, the owners will be prohibited from locking out the players once the old CBA expires at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. But it may not be that simple a matter. The owners lodged a Valentine’s Day suit against the union that alleged unfair labor practices, and that could block the injunction. It will be up to Doty, who has overseen the current CBA since 1993, to decide which move has more merit.

While the lawyers prepare to haggle, representatives of both sides are expected to meet in one last mediated bargaining session in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, after which the owners are expected to meet in Northern Virginia to approve lockout plans.

None of this has affected the 330 collegians running, throwing and lifting before the league’s coaches and general managers at the NFL Scouting Combine, which concludes Tuesday in Indianapolis. The Giants received some good news out there over the weekend as injured defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who missed most of last season, was cleared to take his rehabbing of a herniated neck disc onto the practice field.

Giants general manager Jerry Reese said in a statement that Kiwanuka is “fully committed to returning to football” — only hours after he proclaimed the defensive end’s career in jeopardy.

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