Elegy For the Dying College Athlete Employee: NLRB General Counsel, Dashing Out the Door, Gets Valiant

NLRB General Counsel Griffin has obviously been stewing. A year ago, the NLRB had decided they just wanted to keep drinking PBR’s in their banquette out back, up ’til closing time. There wasn’t, they decreed, any reason to do anything at all different. What, after all, their decision on the Northwestern union-cert campaign pronounced, is at all wrong with, well . . . just keeping things the way they are?

Griffin knew, when they did it, how cowardly were those NLRB members. Maybe, even (and we will never know), he might’ve cornered one or two of them, sprinting to catch the Metro: “How,” he might’ve challenged them, “How, ‘could you walk away from this, the way you have?’

But they are hurried. There are other things in their lives. Kids, soccer out in Fairfax County. A great outdoor concert somewhere close by, in all the steam. It’s easy and, really, how important could any of this all, possibly, be?

So General Counsel Griffin decides. It’s late one night, and he knows that he has some slight heft, what he puts out on press release will get a broad read.  A broad read. So he gives it a rip.

Griffin, the flaks then say, says that college athletes are employees. They are so oppressively controlled, Griffins says, that they must be employees of those private colleges.

Griffin is right. But he’s wrong. The arc of governance is now working hard and fast against him, and Griffin will soon be a footnote. He will, a couple years later, maybe have some fellow find him, maybe a law school classmate, out in the left field bleachers at Nationals Park on a steamy DC evening out, or maybe at Wolf Trap — and the guy will pop him, because it’s been a while: what, the fellow with two blue cups in his hands will wonder — what  happened with all the NLRB stuff, and the college player employees?

It might be 2018. Maybe ’19. But the NLRB is no close relative, any longer, of what Griffin knew in early 2017.  There’s a whole new regime, they blew it all up. It was worse than Taft-Hartley in 1948. Mostly, it’s all gone, really. These NLRB guys now, they’re all scared, hedgehogs, running from burrow to burrow, and unions, basically, are dead.

“Employees?” Griffin responds. “Employees? Nah. Not really” It was, he mutters to himself, “it was all,”  thinking of Joni Mitchell –“it was all just a dream some of us had.”

Copyright William Wilson 2017

 

 

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About brewonsouthu

Michigan and Big Ten fan, former lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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