When Marshawn Lynch, then a running back for the Seattle Seahawks, called into the NFL Network to let them know he was officially holding out from the team’s training session, he joined a long and questionably illustrious list of NFL players who are so incensed about something brewing within their organization that they decide to abstain from franchise activities until they can reach some reasonable resolution to the problem at hand. (And look where Lynch is now.)
This, almost without fail, goes something like the team pays the player more money than they were paying him before he started holding out. That’s not to say that NFL teams are particularly fond of this behavior, or aren’t willing to play hardball — a holdout can last for an entire season or longer, as player and organization refuse to meet anywhere near the middle.
It’s also a wildly variable ploy; some guys, like Chris Johnson, went through a pattern of holding out routinely and without much success. Carson Palmer held out because, you know, those Bengals teams were bad and they weren’t going to get very much better in the near future. Incidentally, the Bengals felt the same way about Palmer, and they eventually traded him to the Raiders.
But the NFL holdout will continue for as long as there are financial disagreements between the players and ownership, since the few people gifted enough to make it to the NFL are left with few ways to leverage any sort of bargaining power with the teams that contract them to play. These are the most infamous holdouts in recent NFL history.