The NFL has filed a grievance against the NFL Players Association, alleging that union leaders, including president JC Tretter, have advised running backs to "consider feigning or exaggerating injuries" to help increase their leverage in contract negotiations.
The grievance was filed Sept. 11 and will be reviewed by an arbitrator.
In a memo sent to the league's management council executive committee and obtained by The Associated Press, the NFL said the union made the suggestion to running backs during a Zoom meeting before the season.
Any player who took the union's advice and faked an injury would be violating the collective bargaining agreement, the league argued.
"This conduct is a clear violation of the union's agreement to use 'best efforts to faithfully carry out the terms and conditions of the [CBA]' and 'to see that the terms and conditions of all NFL Player Contracts are carried out in full by players,'" the memo said. "The union's conduct is also reckless as any player that chooses to follow this advice and improperly withhold services under his player contract will be subject to discipline and financial liability under the CBA, club rules, and/or the player's contract."
The league's grievance seeks for the union to "cease and desist from such improper conduct as well as other remedies that the arbitrator may deem appropriate."
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has been involved in a contract dispute and was placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the season because he's recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
Tretter spoke openly about the contract issues running backs are facing on former NFL player Ross Tucker's podcast in July.
"You need to try to create as much leverage as you possibly can," Tretter said. "And that's the tough thing with the franchise tag, or being restricted in movement, is it decreases your leverage, but then you have to find creative ways to build leverage elsewhere. I think we've seen issues -- now, I don't think anybody would say they were fake injuries, but we've seen players who didn't want to be where they currently are, have injuries that made them unable to practice and play, but you're not able to get fined, and you're not able to be punished for not reporting.
"So, there are issues like that. I don't think I'm allowed to ever recommend that, at least publicly, but I think each player needs to find a way to build up leverage to try to get a fair deal. And that's really what all these guys are looking for, is to be compensated fairly."