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Frequently asked questions about union decertification

The NFL Players Association decertified Friday as talks with the NFL about a new labor deal collapsed. Here's what the decertification means in question-and-answer form:

Q&A: What's next for players, NFL?

Can the NFLPA collectively bargain on behalf of the players?
No. No longer a union, it now becomes a trade association. It can't fight fines or suspensions or file grievances for players, either.

So, how does decertifying help the players?
All through negotiations, union leaders said they expected NFL owners to lock out the players if the collective bargaining agreement between the two sides expired. By decertifying, players can -- and did Friday -- file an antitrust suit and request an injunction that would force the league to continue fully operating. In simplest terms, by decertifying, players hope to keep professional football in business under terms they like.

Can the NFLPA do anything now in the labor dispute?
It can make its attorneys available to help the players filing the antitrust lawsuits.

Has the NFLPA decertified before?
Yes, in 1989. It formed again in 1993 after antitrust suits by the players led to a new collective bargaining agreement.

Why decertify now?
Two reasons. First, the CBA barred the players from filing antitrust lawsuits against the league for six months after the deal expired. Second, in order to possibly keep legal proceedings under the jurisdiction of U.S. District Court Judge David Doty in Minneapolis, the union needed to decertify before the current CBA expired. After two extensions, the deadline was moved to the end of Friday, and the filings came in late afternoon.

Why does the NFLPA want to remain in Doty's court?
Doty has ruled in the players' favor in the past, including last week in denying the league's right to collect $4 billion in television payments if no games are played in 2011.

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