Are NFL Players Employees? (Shocking Secrets Of American Football Players!)

Last Updated on October 29, 2023 by Alex PT

NFL players are considered employees of their respective teams, subject to the same employment laws and regulations as other employees. They are also covered by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which outlines their rights and responsibilities as employees.

The table below consists of the three elements used by the IRS to tell whether the individuals working for you are contractors or employees. 

Three Elements Used By The IRS To Tell Whether The Individuals Working For You Are Contractors Or EmployeesFunctions Of The NFLPA
Behavioral ControlNegotiates and monitors insurance and retirement benefits
Financial ControlProvides some other member services and activities
Types of RelationshipProvides help to charitable and community organizations

Are NFL Players Employees?

  1. Employment Status
    NFL players are indeed considered employees, but they are not traditional employees in the common sense of the term. They are part of a unique employment classification known as “statutory employees”. This categorization places them as workers performing services under an agreement with the management of the National Football League.
  2. Employer-Employee Relationship
    Even though these professional athletes are employees, their relationship with their employer(s) is unique. Their employer is not just the specific team for which they play, but it also encompasses the NFL as a whole. They are also represented by the NFL Players Association, which further defines and protects their employment rights.
  3. Employment Contract
    Just like any other employees, NFL players sign an employment contract, which is often referred to as the “Player Contract”. The terms of these contracts are determined through collective bargaining between the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Corporate EntitySignificance
TeamDirect employer. Provides wages, training and all work-related necessities
NFLOverall ruling body. Maintains and enforces rules and regulations across all teams
NFL Players AssociationRepresents players’ rights. Negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the NFL
  1. Earnings
    NFL players receive a salary for their employment. This remuneration consists of a base salary with additional bonuses possible. They are typically compensated handsomely for their work, but the nature of their job differs greatly from most standard employees.
  2. Rights and Benefits
    Similarly to other employees, NFL players have certain rights and benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks. The exact benefits they receive depend largely on the specifics of their contracts and can include things like personal trainers, team medical staff, and more.
  3. Working Conditions
    Working conditions for NFL players can be quite demanding compared to traditional work environments. Intense physical training, frequent travel, and high performance pressures are common aspects of their employment.
  4. Job Security
    Job security is a significant factor that differentiates NFL players from typical employees. The contracts for NFL players are usually not fully guaranteed, which means that a player can be released from his contract at any point and not be paid the remainder of his contract.

What Type Of Employee Is An NFL Player?

NFL players are a unique type of employee, and their employment structure is distinct from traditional roles. Here are the key details:

  1. Professional Athletes: NFL players are professional athletes who play football at the highest level. They are employed to perform on the field and are subject to the rules and regulations set by the NFL.
  2. Contracts: Players sign employment contracts with NFL teams. These contracts outline the terms of employment, including salary, bonuses, and other benefits. Contracts can vary in length and value based on a player’s experience and position.
  3. Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): The employment relationship between NFL players and the league is governed by the CBA negotiated between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). The CBA covers issues like salaries, working conditions, player safety, and more.
  4. Salaries and Compensation: NFL players receive salaries, signing bonuses, performance-based bonuses, and other forms of compensation. Their earnings vary widely based on factors like experience, skill, and position.
  5. Player Draft: Many NFL players enter the league through the NFL Draft. Teams select college players to join their roster, and these rookies sign contracts. Undrafted players can also sign with teams as free agents.
  6. Franchise Tags: Teams have the option to use the franchise tag, which designates a player as a franchise player and ensures a minimum salary for one year.
  7. Roster Cuts and Trades: NFL teams can release or trade players during the season. This aspect of the employment relationship can lead to uncertainty and career mobility.
  8. Player Benefits: The NFL and NFLPA provide various benefits to players, including health insurance, retirement plans, and post-career assistance.
  9. Player’s Union: The NFLPA serves as the players’ union, advocating for their interests in negotiations with the league. It plays a vital role in shaping the employment terms and conditions for NFL players.
  10. Performance Expectations: NFL players are expected to perform at a high level on the field and adhere to the league’s code of conduct off the field. Violations can lead to fines, suspensions, or other penalties.
  11. Short Career Span: The average NFL career is relatively short, typically lasting just a few years, making financial planning and post-football career considerations important for players.

What’s The NFLPA?

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

Why Do Professional Football Players Want A Union?

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

2. So why do specialized football players would like a union?

3. The union allows players to stand in concert to defend their families, health, and rights.

4. The union was developed in 1956. Players used their combined power to push owners to supply fundamentals including fresh uniforms and more secure equipment.

5. The process of ours is really representing players’ passions during negotiations for the following CBA also as to be able to make players that’s certain are up to date and effectively prepared for them.

6. In 2011, we negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) following an eighteen-week lockout by the proprietors.

7. In March 2020, we negotiated the existing CBA, which runs in the 2030 season.

8. The existing CBA brought brand new income to the people of ours, similar to a higher share for revenue, expanded roster sizes of the shoes, a large bump in minimum salaries, wellness & safety advances, rookie contract rewards, along with several other issues.

What Does The Union Do?


1. Represents most players in problems relating to wages, time, and working conditions as well as protects the rights of theirs as professional football players

2. Makes particular the conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are in fact met

3. Negotiates and monitors retirement and insurance benefits

4. Provides other member services and activities

5. Provides assistance to charitable as well as community groups • Enhances as well as defends the photograph of players and also the profession of theirs on as well as away from the field How does the union work?

6. The NFLPA works out of the bottom up. Most authority as well as the power to take action in the NFLPA are taken by the Board of Reps which are elected by the professional players.

7. Player Members on every NFL team elect equally a Player Representative as well as an alternate Player Representative to provide on the Board of Player Representatives (The Board of Player Reps).

8. The Board of Player Reps fulfills at least one time annually and makes the essential options because of the company.

Can NFL Players Be Sacked By Their Employers?

1. Employee freedom of speech depends upon an assortment of laws. When dealing with the issue of an employee’s freedom of speech, the initial question to question is in fact from what law this purported correct derives. First of all, there is constitutional free speech, that derives from the very first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional rights to speech which doesn’t cost anything to put on to public employees, the place that the employee’s need for speech that is free, on balance, is really higher in comparison to the employer’s explanation for curbing the speech. Separate and aside from the constitutional free speech is in fact the idea of contractual free speech, that typically is an employee’s to free speech that happens out of an employment agreement with a fixed term or perhaps a unionized employee’s collective bargaining agreement.

2. NFL teams are likely personal actors, which could imply players do not have constitutional free speech rights in that situation; however, you are going to find some real discussions on the contrary. While a court is really likely to conclude that NFL teams are in fact personal actors, this is not certain. In reality, one 1978 federal choice, Ludtke v. Kuhn, kept that New York City’s involvement with the lease arrangement on the old Yankee Stadium changed Major League Baseball’s decision to prevent female reporters from putting in the Yankees’ clubhouse out of individual activity in state action. For this identical reason, one may argue the significant public financing for NFL stadiums, moreover, the tax breaks offered to NFL clubs might alter particular clubs into public actors.

3. Beyond the publicly funded stadium distinction, President Trump’s repeated calls for NFL teams to fire players could shift the public-private analysis. The difference may be difficult to the amount that staff tends to make the determination to fire a professional player to appease the president. Though there is a little accessible precedent which includes a private employer firing an employee for a speech at the urging associated with a federal employee, constitutional protections of speech which doesn’t cost anything are in fact targeted at stopping the government from intruding on specific expression ― specifically where this phrase relates to federal speech. Thus, in case an NFL team fired an individual dependent on speech condemned by President Trump from fear of normally losing federal tax as well as financial assistance breaks, one could make an intelligent argument which the staff members should be considered an innocent instrumentality associated with a public actor in this particular atmosphere.

4. The NFL collective bargaining agreement might help players with regard to contractual free speech. Regardless if teams constitute public actors for purposes of constitutional free speech analysis, players may have certain protections against getting fired for public protests under the collective bargaining agreement along with the typical player contracts of theirs. Indeed, NFL players aren’t at-will personnel but only are employed for a phrase of years. As the newest court decision in Mendenhall v. Hanesbrands details, an athlete hired to a contract for just a phrase of years cannot be fired for training political speech unless exercising that speech violates the conditions of the underlying contract. In case an NFL team really wants to “fire” a professional player for not standing up for the national anthem (in the sensation of “fire” meaning not paying the professional player for the majority of the contract) of his, the staff members is going to have to demonstrate- Positive Many Meanings – the player’s conduct violated the morals clause in the league’s regular professional player agreement.

6. Based on the collective bargaining agreement, any team punishment is really susceptible to bodily arbitration. Aside from the borders on NFL teams’ rights to “fire” players based on the normal participant agreement, the collective bargaining agreement enables players the right to challenge any such punishment through a setup arbitration procedure

Consequently, regardless of whether people preferred to have action against a participant, the team owner might not have the absolute and final say of the problem.

For these reasons, it’s not clear whether an NFL team may really fire a player for refusing to stand for the national anthem. At present, this’s really an open problem, though we are able to hope it never materializes into actual litigation.


We’ve come to the final session of this article. We hope you found resources in your quest to know if the NFL players are employees.


Leave a Comment