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Report: Petition with NLRB seeks union for NFL running backs

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell participates during practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Florham Park, N.J., Thursday, July 25, 2019. Bell signed with the Jets after sitting out all of last season rather than accept the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise tag. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell participates during practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Florham Park, N.J., Thursday, July 25, 2019. Bell signed with the Jets after sitting out all of last season rather than accept the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise tag. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)
Associated Press

A petition reportedly has been filed with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to create a separate union for NFL running backs.

According to the website Law360, the petition was filed Thursday by the International Brotherhood of Professional Running Backs and focuses on the shorter careers for players at the position.

“These employees have unique career structures; and the current one-size fits all unit is inappropriate,” the petition says of players’ representation by the NFL Players Association. “Excluded: All other player groups,” it said.

The NFL Management Council and the union have begun preliminary negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement. The current 10-year deal expires in March 2021.

A message to the players’ union seeking comment was not immediately answered.

Running backs often draw attention for their holdouts, with Dallas star Ezekiel Elliott currently missing Cowboys training camp. Last year, Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire season rather than sign his franchise tag tender with Pittsburgh. He subsequently became a free agent and signed with the New York Jets for $52.5 million over four years.

The average pro career for a running back is 2.57 years, by far the shortest of any position. Their average salary through the 2018 season was $1.291 million, which ranked below every position but long snapper. Fullback was at $995,145, but there are few fullbacks in the NFL.

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