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Ten things to know, right now, about the lockout ruling

NFL Lockout Looms As Negotiations Are Extended Getty Images

With Judge Susan Nelson lifting the lockout via court order on Monday, plenty of you have plenty of questions.

We’ve tried to anticipate 10 of them.

And then we tried to answer them.

1.  What does it mean?

In short, it means that the players’ strategy has worked, so far.  When the union decertified, the objective was to place the players in position to block a lockout.  Now, football can continue — with the players getting paid — while the two sides potentially move toward working out an agreement, at some point.

Of course, if the NFL prevails on appeal, the lockout will continue until the players agree to terms.  With the lockout lifted, the players will be able to dig in, since their ability to work and be paid won’t be riding on their willingness to strike a deal.

2.  What happens next?

The league wants to “stay” (i.e., delay) the lifting of the lockout pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. The argument will be that opening the doors temporarily and then closing them after winning the case on appeal will create an undue hardship for the league.

If the league gets a stay, the lockout will remain in effect until the appeal is resolved.

If the league doesn’t get a stay, the lockout ends — and the new “league year” starts, with free agency and trades and players being cut and offseason workouts and, basically, business as usual.  Unless and until the league wins on appeal.

3.  What will happen on appeal?

The league is confident that it will win the appeal.  The confidence comes in part from the fact that 13 of the 16 judges (active and senior status) assigned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit were nominated by Republican presidents.  Though judges sometimes stray from their pre-bench political ideologies once they land lifetime appointments, the league surely likes its chances of getting a conservative, pro-business panel.

Initially, three judges (from the active and senior status) randomly will be assigned to the case.  Persuading two of them will deliver a win.

The losing party then can file a petition for the case to be heard again before all of the active judges, and any senior status judges that served on the original three-judge panel.  Those requests aren’t granted routinely, but this isn’t a routine case.

While the loose red state/blue state, pro-business/pro-labor composition of the 8th Circuit superficially favors the NFL, the standard that applies on appeal favors the players.  The appeals court won’t be reviewing Judge Nelson’s work from scratch.  Instead, the decision will be upheld unless the appeals court determines that Judge Nelson abused her discretion.

The 89-page written ruling seems was expertly crafted to avoid a finding that Judge Nelson acted unreasonably.  Even if at least two of the three judges assigned to the case are inclined to conclude that the decertification of the union was a sham or that the courts must defer to the NLRB or that the Norris-LaGuardia Act prevents a court from enjoining a lockout, Judge Nelson’s reliance on past cases from the 8th Circuit supporting the idea that a so-called “preliminary injunction” can be obtained even if the likelihood of winning the case is lower than 50 percent, the question of whether the appellate judges believe the decertification of the union is valid doesn’t matter.  All that matters for now is whether the players have shown that they have a “fair chance of prevailing” at trial, a standard used most recently by the 8th Circuit in a case decided in 2008. For the purposes of the appeal, the judges would be required to find that Judge Nelson abused her discretion in concluding that the players have a “fair chance of prevailing” at trial.

As we explained earlier in the month, it’s similar to the deference that a referee must give to the call on the field during replay review.  Instead of substituting the referee’s judgment for the judgment of the official who made the call, the referee must look for evidence demonstrating that the call was clearly wrong.  While Judge Nelson’s decision doesn’t have quite as much leeway, it’s simply not enough for the appeals court to disagree with her interpretation of the law.  To overturn the decision to lift the lockout while the litigation proceeds, the appeals court must believe that the decision amounts to an abuse of the discretion inherent to trial courts.

4.  When will free agency start?

That depends on several factors.  If the NFL fails to finagle a stay, free agency could begin by the end of the week.

With a stay, free agency won’t happen unless and until the appeals court upholds Judge Nelson’s ruling.

Even if the league can’t delay the lifting of the lockout pending appeal, veteran players scheduled for free agency shouldn’t want the process to be rushed.  Truly big money won’t be spent unless teams have had a chance to digest the rules for 2011, to set their budgets, to assess their needs, and to develops specific plans for the players who will be targeted.

As to rookie free agents who aren’t drafted, the players should push for the immediate signing of contracts, so that teams will be able to engage in their annual post-draft land rush for 15-20 undrafted rookies.

 5.  Can players be traded?

In theory, yes.  But the league will ignore that issue until it learns whether a stay will be granted.  If the ruling isn’t stayed, however, the league will have to allow trades.

And the union will push for that to happen immediately, since it will promote the movement of players during the draft, given that draft picks and players would be available as trade compensation.

6.  Will the 2010 rules be used in 2011?

It’s unclear at this point.  Many have assumed that the NFL will simply repeat the 2010 rules, which entailed no salary cap, no salary floor, and six years to unrestricted free agency.

With the players poised to challenge any rules implemented by the teams as a violation of the antitrust laws, the NFL needs to select the rules for 2011 carefully.  If the league goes too far, the league will lose the antitrust lawsuit.  If the league crafts rules narrowly aimed at ensuring competitive balance, the league could win the antitrust lawsuit — and the players would be stuck with a system that entails none of the protections that a union provides.

7.  Will there be a rookie wage scale?

It depends.  The league can impose one, and then the players would challenge it as an antitrust violation.

8.  Will the parties continue to negotiate?

Yes.  Mediation is scheduled to resume on May 16.  The fact that the players won their motion to lift the lockout doesn’t end the case.  The antitrust lawsuit continues, and a settlement of the case would become the next labor deal between the NFL and the players.

Though players like Domonique Foxworth have said that the players never intend to re-form the union, the problem with that approach is that any settlement between the current players and the league wouldn’t be binding on the annual influx of new players, who could challenge any of the rules to which the current players agree as violations of the antitrust laws.

Thus, the only way to reach a long-term labor accord will be to negotiate a new CBA, or to see the litigation to completion, with the league learning via trial and error (and the expenditure of millions in legal fees) what can and can’t be done from an antitrust standpoint.

9.  How long could this take to resolve?

Years.  But once the ruling lifting the lockout is finalized via the appeals process, football would continue until the antitrust case ends, as it did in the 1990s after the union decertified.

10.  What happens to the “lockout insurance” case?

It still moves forward, even if there is no lockout (and thus no reason to use “lockout insurance”).  Judge David Doty found last month that the league violated the CBA but failing to maximize the television revenue.  At a minimum, the players are entitled to any money that the league “left on the table” when negotiating ongoing payments during a lockout instead of getting more money during the years of the deal not affected by a work stoppage.

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62 Responses to “Ten things to know, right now, about the lockout ruling”
  1. lovesportsandsurfing says: Apr 26, 2011 12:52 AM

    10 things we really didnt need to know.

  2. footballfanatic3431 says: Apr 26, 2011 12:57 AM

    Fans still lose. These guys are really pissing me off. Maybe I should start following basketball a lot closer..

  3. dvnelson72 says: Apr 26, 2011 1:01 AM

    I vote for the league to institute 2010 rules, with 2 changes.

    No minimum salary and no salary floor.

    Start cutting the bottom 20% for each team and signing players for 50k/year.

    Sign undrafteds to the same…

    See how quick the pressur gets put on the union and the big earners of the league.

  4. nflwatcher says: Apr 26, 2011 1:05 AM

    11) The NFL Network has lost a lot of credibility in my mind tonight. They continue to show old programing and are not giving any live information.

  5. cappa662 says: Apr 26, 2011 1:10 AM

    I hope the owners slam Goodell for putting them into this horrible spot. Everything he done since taking over from Tagliabue failed i.e. outlawing good solid hits, over protecting the QB, 18 game season, television lockout insurance, the lockout, and etc. Goodell is just living off of Tagliabue’s legacy right now.

  6. MichaelEdits says: Apr 26, 2011 1:12 AM

    11. Nobody cares.

  7. shooliganza says: Apr 26, 2011 1:13 AM

    League Lawyers Recent Triumphs

    1. Pushed for a high court review of American Needle and turned a small victory in the lower courts into a major defeat in the SC.
    2. Television lockout strategy, “as your council I assure you these clever deals to get lockout insurance will never backfire. Trust me.”
    3. After 2.5 years of preparation for the lockout they lose the original case and their arguments are soundly beaten with a big ol club.
    4. I can’t believe that the NFLs grand plan for 2.5 years was to argue that they could have a lockout because they filed a complaint with the NLRB and a novel usage of Norris LaGuardia (the little flower or labor law). This has to have been a last minute improvisation and before filing some deep flaw must have been discovered in what what their original argument.

    Jeff Pash needs to get his resume polished and spun.

  8. drummer1279 says: Apr 26, 2011 1:14 AM

    Both sides are acting like idiots. One week it’s the players, the next week it’s the owners. In the end it’s the NFL fans and workers that are being screwed. The rich people are fighting over money, which most of the money being fought over will go to lawyer’s. The fans will pay higher ticket and concession prices to compensate, and workers will get paid less/lower raises which is already happening, with the pay cut. This is just getting more absurd every day.

  9. Chris Fiorentino says: Apr 26, 2011 1:23 AM

    The owners really have no choice but to impose little or no rules for the 2011 season. anything they try to do, from free agency to salary cap, will be challenged by the non-unoinized players.

    So basically, football as we have known it for the last couple decades, is over. Get ready for the Cowboys and Redskins spending $200 million a year while most other teams spend less than $40 million.

    5% of the players will make 95% of the money. Hope they are happy now.

  10. msclemons67 says: Apr 26, 2011 1:34 AM

    I’m curious, if Daddy Doty awards a significant award in the lockout insurance case who gets the money? The NFLPA is defunct so do the 1500 current NFL players split the award amongst themselves?

    This could lead to a whole new round of lawsuits with the players suing each other. Should be fun to watch.

  11. ggeden says: Apr 26, 2011 1:41 AM

    If i translated all that into layman’s terms it would be too long a post, especially point #3.

  12. ggeden says: Apr 26, 2011 1:53 AM

    1. As I posted earlier in another article, Judge Nelson stated federal labor laws only apply when there’s a union representing its members. With the players all now individuals having to negotiate contracts individually, and accepting of the risks involved (no labor protection), the lockout therefore must end. The NFL had asked Nelson to expand federal labor laws to apply indefinitely after a union decertifies and after a collective bargaining process collapses. But the Judge rightfully said that’s not for her court to make a new law on, a higher court should, but in the meantime going on existing laws and precedent, the lockout must end.

    2. The league is going to seek a stay and appeal.

    3. The appeals court will not start over from scratch on Nelson’s ruling. They’re only going to look over her ruling to ensure no grave errors were made. If any were made, then that’s how the NFL would win the appeal.

    4. Stay granted, FA wouldn’t start until the league’s appeal has been judged on. Stay not granted, FA would start very soon.

    5. Again, wait for verdict on stay or no stay.

    6. We don’t know yet.

    7. No need for translation.

    8. Yes

    9. No translation needed.

    10. No translation needed.

  13. childressrulz says: Apr 26, 2011 2:09 AM

    Go players.

  14. hedden93 says: Apr 26, 2011 2:19 AM

    11. Fans are pissed and just want this all to end

  15. egls7 says: Apr 26, 2011 2:25 AM

    Wait so which side should the fans be on?

  16. tr975 says: Apr 26, 2011 2:28 AM

    5. Can players be traded?

    In theory, yes. But the league will ignore that issue until it learns whether a stay will be granted. If the ruling isn’t stayed, however, the league will have to allow trades.

    And the union will push for that to happen immediately, since it will promote the movement of players during the draft, given that draft picks and players would be available as trade compensation.
    ————————————
    If this happens, everyone can throw out their mock drafts. With the possibility of trading players and not just draft picks, I believe the whole outlook on the draft will change. Carolina might trade out of #1 with a team who would send them a veteran QB (Cincinnati – Palmer or Washington – McNabb perhaps), Houston could trade up with Denver to get #2 (using picks and Amobi Okoye) in order to select Von Miller, etc…

    Almost every mock draft done to this point might have included trades, but none of those trades likely involved players. Now, there could be many players used in trades because teams won’t know who the true free agents will be and will instead turn to a trade.

    In that regard, how would a team know who they could trade and who they couldn’t trade? Obviously, a player under contract would be eligible, but what about any of those players a team may consider “restricted” and extended a tender offer? Would they be allowed to trade those players and make the other team take the risk about whether or not they would be “restricted” or would any possible free agent, both “unrestricted” and “restricted”, be exempt from being used in a trade?

    Seems like this ruling may have made things more confusing as far as the draft is concerned.

  17. ursushorribilis says: Apr 26, 2011 3:03 AM

    The bottom line is that a CONSTANT BIAS exists in the judiciary. If one is pro-business/red state and wants to win a legal conflict, one goes to a “conservative” judge. If one is pro-union/blue state, one goes to a left-leaning judge.

    Geez, who would have thunk it? (sarcasm)

    Hopefully, this winds up in the Supreme Court and you can ask Al Gore what will happen then……

    Did DeMaurice celebrate when OJ was found innocent in California?

  18. mrone50 says: Apr 26, 2011 4:07 AM

    I guess some people think that the players’ win will cause the tickets prices to rise. I wonder if they were thinking that if the owners won, ticket prices would magically go down or stay the same. Pardon me as I laugh for a second. Hopefully this means all the legal jargon and pro/anti union talk starts to fade and we get to see some football.

  19. pppath says: Apr 26, 2011 4:51 AM

    From everything you just said, our best bet is the lockout is lifted and negotiation and litigation will follow. Not necessarily in that order.

    For now, just lift the damn lockout and let my football begin.

  20. waitstop says: Apr 26, 2011 4:51 AM

    So, the league is allowed to resume business a few days before the draft? Many team boards are adjusted based on their ability to trade for certain available players (i.e. Kolb). It seems to me this is a godsend to the NFL, even if the league shuts down again next week, player movement is allowed during the draft which could have been a major inhibitor to the success of many teams this year. The pressure to draft a player rather than trade that pick for a know commodity.

    Tell me again, how did the league lose this ruling?

  21. fflnick says: Apr 26, 2011 4:55 AM

    Winning in the Court of Appeals is going to be difficult for the NFL.

    They has to prove Judge Nelson acted improperly in court.

    An argument…
    Judge Nelson ordered mediation.
    Mediation is for a dispute.
    In this case, a labor dispute.
    Judge then later ruled that labor law did not apply that this was not a labor dispute.

  22. paredskinwarrior says: Apr 26, 2011 5:04 AM

    IT’s AWESOME! I’m on the players side now!! F THIS LOCKOUT!!! I hope n pray that NO JUDGE WILL ALLOW A STAY! Hell is this even posting? For sum reason my posts never show up???? Am I blocked?

  23. paredskinwarrior says: Apr 26, 2011 5:06 AM

    IT’s AWESOME! I’m on the players side now!! F THIS LOCKOUT!!! I hope n pray that NO JUDGE WILL ALLOW A STAY! Hell is this even posting? For sum reason my posts never show up???? Am I blocked? HTTR! Hope THE REDSKINS TRADE THAT CLASSLESS JOKE OF A QB MCNABB TO THE BILLS, AND FAT AL TO THE PANTHERS OR THE RAIDERS!!!

  24. paredskinwarrior says: Apr 26, 2011 5:08 AM

    HTTR! Us fans need to make sure thr league hears us that THIS LOCKOUT IS A JOKE!!

  25. paredskinwarrior says: Apr 26, 2011 5:09 AM

    mcnabb is a classless over-rated joke of a qb he shouldn’t get to go to a team he wants to, he should be sent to the bills, raiders or panthers!! Httr!!

  26. fflnick says: Apr 26, 2011 5:37 AM

    The Supreme Court in 1997 ruled NFLPA must choose between labor law and antitrust law.

    NFLPA move to antitrust law when their CBA expires & labor dispute breaks down and back in labor law for umbrella protection it inherently provides when they have an CBA agreement.
    The union enjoys the “fruits” of both.
    They use the antitrust lawsuits as bargaining chips in a labor dispute.

    I would not be surprised if politicians in Washington craft a new law stopping the flip flopping.
    They could write it, If they are going to be a union for agreements, they must remain an union for a period of time once collective bargaining agreement expires. That language would also apply vise versa to “trade association”.

    The NFL could also try to seek expansion to their antitrust exemption thereby discourage player lawsuits for the future. That would leave the NFLPA best options thru labor court only.

  27. isaeus says: Apr 26, 2011 5:55 AM

    The owners need to get back to the table and make a deal, ASAP. Their leverage is completely gone. Their attempt to take a much larger chunk of the total revenue, AND to fix the player share of the revenue at a hard dollar amount each year rather than a % split, has failed. It can only get worse from here – this was only the beginning of the potential litigation. More litigation could destroy the league completely, as the fundamentals of the operations could be challenged.

    The owners need to realize and accept this failure quickly, and settle up with a similar agreement to the previous CBA. Before we feel sorry for them, let’s recall that the previous CBA enabled the NFL to grow at an extraordinary pace, almost regardless of the changing economic conditions over the duration. They have made tremendous amounts of money over the course of this agreement, with most owners seeing the respective value of their franchises increase by 4 or 5 times to around $1 billion.

    Let’s hope these men are smart enough to take the initiative and make a fair offer. In the meantime, lets get the league year started!! Free agency, player trades, and the draft!

    Overall this is a huge win for the fans and the best possible outcome.

  28. monropoobah says: Apr 26, 2011 6:11 AM

    but what down is it

  29. ravenator says: Apr 26, 2011 6:53 AM

    I just want football secured for the present AND future. Get it done people. Don’t say walk and then run. The owners need to show now more than ever, that they are committed to getting a new CBA reached.

  30. whatsafairway says: Apr 26, 2011 6:58 AM

    I just hope the owners bought enough donuts and a couple of decks of cards, could be a long day.

  31. chapnastier says: Apr 26, 2011 7:09 AM

    Another sad day for the American judicial system. Liberals trying to make laws from the bench when it is clear that the evidence was solid backing the owners. This whole mess was the fault of the players and now the owners are just pawns to their employees. What a sad day in America it is.

  32. chatham10 says: Apr 26, 2011 7:25 AM

    Your comments mention that the court in St. Louis were appointed by Bush, did you mention that Judge Nelson was appointed by Obama, so it works just like Congress, nothing happens by what is right or wrong, it happens by which party you belong to.

  33. joetoronto says: Apr 26, 2011 7:27 AM

    paredskinwarrior:

    WTF, take a pill and settle down.

  34. hotdog113 says: Apr 26, 2011 7:29 AM

    I’m done with these greedy clowns. Time to find something else to do on Sundays.

  35. voxveritass says: Apr 26, 2011 7:31 AM

    chapnastier says:
    Apr 26, 2011 7:09 AM
    Another sad day for the American judicial system. Liberals trying to make laws from the bench when it is clear that the evidence was solid backing the owners. This whole mess was the fault of the players and now the owners are just pawns to their employees. What a sad day in America it is.

    _____________________

    It’s a shame your whole existence is based on your sad politics.
    You’d rather be ‘right’ than have football and you’re wrong on both counts.

  36. weneedlinemen42 says: Apr 26, 2011 7:39 AM

    Can a judge really force a business to operate? Since the CBA is now out of force is there anything that compels the team to supply coaching and training facilities to the players?

    Absent the CBA there can be no maximum or minimum roster sizes, but surely the teams don’t have to sign free agents. Sure, in the past teams have had more signed players than they do now, but there really is no need to start free agency until just before the games.

    Sure the lockout has officially ended but do the teams really have to do anything now that there aren’t any actual rules to follow? The players could claim collusion if none of the franchises do anything, but each owner could argue that signing contracts under the current climate would be detrimental to their business. Surely a business cannot be forced to take on new employees, only prevented from unlawfully discriminating during the recruitment process when they do.

  37. deepthreat says: Apr 26, 2011 7:41 AM

    Not being a legal expert…

    How can any judge possibly think the players’ decertification of the union is not a sham ?

    This – and the Needle case – could be really bad for the league if the union never decertifies.

    Every rookie coming into the league could sue for anti-trust if they couldn’t play for any team they want.

    It would be even worse than MLB because MLB has the anti-trust exemption.

    If I ran that league, I would look at what lost that Needle case and reorganize the league into a form that would win it.

    They need to be organized into a single business entity.

  38. Patriot42 says: Apr 26, 2011 7:41 AM

    I was hoping for the end of the NFL.

  39. richkotitte says: Apr 26, 2011 7:43 AM

    I have the solution to this mess. Let Brandon Marshall represent the players, and his wife represent the owners. A pay per view event with all proceeds going to pay lawyer fees!

  40. weneedlinemen42 says: Apr 26, 2011 8:00 AM

    If there isn’t a CBA, what is there to stop the NFL from adding additional games?

    Certainly, pre-existing contracts might specify a number of games but, now they are not bound by a CBA, surely it cannot be illegal for the owners to agree to stage more games. They might have to pick up extra players, to cover for those contracted for only 16 regular season games, but is there any way players could challenge such a move.

  41. pappysarcasm says: Apr 26, 2011 8:25 AM

    Players win = NFL AS\\ as we know it ruined forever! This ex-fan wont be contributing to their delinquency ANYMORE!

  42. steeelfann says: Apr 26, 2011 8:27 AM

    If there were any real men left, the players would not put up with Smith and not playing football the way it should be played. Think of all the old timers, what they gave to play, having second real jobs in the off-season. I am not on the players side at all. They play a sport and they get paid more than all of us. If it is dangerous, so be it. It was dangerous in the 60′s and 70′s too. How about we put them all on salary and they can work as landscapers in the offseason?

    Ray Lewis and other “leaders” (ahem) should take this over and organize the players. Give the rookie salary cap to the NFL, sprinkle some out to the veterans and make a few common sense moves in addition, and it is over. Once lawyers get involved, you are screwed. I have been dealing with em for so long it makes my head spin. They love to bill, file motions, talk, and make no deals. I vote for Cromartie to be the new president of the union.

  43. tiredofthestupid says: Apr 26, 2011 8:31 AM

    @Chris Fiorentino

    “5% of the players will make 95% of the money. Hope they are happy now.”

    And that would make the players system different from the real world how, exactly?

    Isn’t THAT the system the owners made their money off of? The economic model our country currently operates under where the rich get richer and the little guys get less and less?

    Are you saying that a distribution of the overall income, from top to bottom, that benefits the lower tiered workers, perhaps by taking a little from the upper tiered workers and owners, would be better overall for a system?

    Hmmmm….and a union did this, originally? With a negotiated CBA? And this was GOOD for the NFL? Could it be possible it would be good for the rest of the world, too? My god! What a discovery!!!

  44. dspyank2k11 says: Apr 26, 2011 8:43 AM

    ITS ALMOST SUMMER! WOO HOO!

  45. santolonius says: Apr 26, 2011 8:52 AM

    it strikes me that there are suddenly hundreds of moving parts and a real chance that one or two teams could manipulate this limbo to gain a competitive advantage over the rest of the teams. that said, i think owner unity is about to come unglued (for good reason).

  46. thetooloftools says: Apr 26, 2011 8:59 AM

    I need a lawyer to translate this “lawyer speak”.
    No wonder justice is only for the rich.

  47. berniemadoffsides says: Apr 26, 2011 9:01 AM

    You guys do a great job explaining all of this, seriously. BSPN doesn’t delve into any of this. PFT is truly the best NFL resource on the net.

  48. seahawkhuskyfan says: Apr 26, 2011 9:10 AM

    Question – What is preventing the onwers from taking the year off? A year off might help the players find their “true” value. Maybe they are not getting paid enough. Maybe some of these guys could earn more out there on the open business market…………

  49. argile2000 says: Apr 26, 2011 9:32 AM

    I have read a thousand stories and a thousand post of the labor dispute… I still do not grasp some main points.

    How is there violation of Anti Trust rules, specifically?

    If there is no Union and no CBA… Why can’t the NFL make new rules? Oh, because Anti Trust… This I just do not understand.

    Does this ruling help the Brady Anti Trust case? Is it now more likely the Brady case will win?

    Enough of the questions.. One thing I do know is… The literature inside the Brady Case is very dangerous to football. I understand some of you hate the big bad owners and many hate the players. (I will not state my stance, due to it being irrelevant to my point) But, the players winning court cases might be good for the short term but very bad for the long term. Please do not be typical Americans and only think short term. Please do not be typical Americans and study the Brady Case literature. I will sacrifice, because that’s what us Americans use to do, this season for the overall strength and longevity of the sport.

  50. PurpleRaid18 says: Apr 26, 2011 9:35 AM

    Another sad day for the American judicial system. Liberals trying to make laws from the bench when it is clear that the evidence was solid backing the owners. This whole mess was the fault of the players and now the owners are just pawns to their employees. What a sad day in America it is.
    ————————————————————

    For Christ’s sake. Blow it out your ass.

  51. captainobvious1 says: Apr 26, 2011 9:43 AM

    Jerry: You know Mike Brown, I’m freaking tired of subsidizing your joke of a team!

    Mikey B: Too bad, Jerrah. That’s the way it is

    Jerry: But I’m not making enough cash. I’ve got this new stadium and I only got $325m from the taxpayers for it!!! How am I going to survive?

    Danny S: Let’s take it from the players! Then we’ll have way more money to split between ourselves and everyone’s happy.

    Everyone: Yeah!!!!!

    Pash: Hey – you guys should opt out of the CBA and then try to get some money from the TV networks in case there’s no season. The players won’t care and even if they do, I know for a fact that we’ll win the court case.

    Everyone: Yeah!!!!

    Doty: What the heck were you idiots thinking?

    Everyone: :-(

    Kraft: The players are idiots. I can’t believe that they don’t believe us. Sure we already tried to screw them with the lockout case, but hey – we’re losing money. It’s criminal that they won’t give us everything we want. They’re totally wasting their time with all this litigation.

    Everyone: Yay!!!

    Nelson: Seriously? You guys are a bunch of pompous $#$#s. Good luck on appeal.

    Everyone: :-(

  52. teddyrex says: Apr 26, 2011 10:11 AM

    argile2000,

    to answer your questions in brief:

    - Antitrust law basically says that when you have one entity dominating a marketplace, or multiple entities colluding to dominate a marketplace, they cannot engage in “anti-competitive” practices. The legal basis for this is well established, under a series of antitrust laws. The economic basis for this is that when you have a trust situation, you don’t have “efficient” or “free” market activities.

    - Under American Needle, the NFL is seen as 32 entities colluding together. This is all fine from the perspective of labor (there are ramifications for their dealings with 3rd parties such as vendors), so long as there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place. Why? Because this represents a joint agreement with all the players, under labor laws, which trump antitrust laws. The theory is: it’s OK if the owners are colluding together, if their workers are also colluding together as part of a union.

    - Once that union ceases to exist, ordinary laws apply. What that means is that “anti-competitive” practices, i.e., practices that interfere with the ordinary operations of the market, are illegal. Past precedents have been pretty clear that restrictions on free movement or marketing of labor (which would include the franchise tag, collegiate draft, restricted FA, and probably also the salary cap) are illegal absent a CBA.

    - The players have all the leverage right now. They could win everything they are asking for (unrestricted FA, no more salary caps, no more draft). Hopefully they will settle. But honestly, if I were the players, I would now be asking for a lot more than the 2006 CBA, because they have all the bargaining power. They will continue to get paid under the old model, while their lawsuit, which appears almost certain to win, winds its way through the courts.

    - Here is where we’ll see the real mettle of DeMaurice Smith and the players. So far, I think the owners have been idiots. They have by far the most owner-friendly model in major sports, and for the sake of a few more dollars, they were pursuing a very reckless legal strategy. Now we’ll see if the players want to be idiots too. They can pursue short term gain, in the form of free agency, etc., things that will make football look a lot more like major league baseball. But I think the success of the NFL has been tied to the parity around the league. I think the players should ask for more than the 2006 CBA (this is the owners’ penalty for stupidity), but stop there and leave the basic model of revenue sharing, salary caps, and the collegiate draft intact.

  53. igglesfan9 says: Apr 26, 2011 10:23 AM

    Good news for all you draft lovers out there. You should be hoping that the judge doesn’t grant a stay. That way, trades will be allowed immediately prior and during the draft. So for the Eagles, they will actually be able to unload Kevin Kolb for picks or players if they so choose, rather than just having to make their draft selections with no other player movement.

  54. Rob Hoffmann says: Apr 26, 2011 10:30 AM

    footballfanatic3431 says:

    Fans still lose. These guys are really pissing me off. Maybe I should start following basketball a lot closer.

    Don’t.

    Guess which union plans to decertify next.

  55. argile2000 says: Apr 26, 2011 10:44 AM

    teddyrex,

    Thank you for the breakdown.. It really does help. Two questions…

    What about the teams being considered a franchise of the NFL, like McDonalds?

    Would Anti Trust still be applicable if another league existed, other than the NFL?

  56. purplehayseuss says: Apr 26, 2011 10:46 AM

    richkotitte says: Apr 26, 2011 7:43 AM

    I have the solution to this mess. Let Brandon Marshall represent the players, and his wife represent the owners. A pay per view event with all proceeds going to pay lawyer fees!

    ***
    I can beat that….Put Marshall’s wife in the cage with the lawyers. The pay-per-view revenue gets paid to all the stadium employees.

  57. argile2000 says: Apr 26, 2011 11:01 AM

    @tiredofthestupid

    You are comparing apples to oranges. The model that the NFL uses is beneficial because they are trying to ensure that the teams remain competitive. The points that make this different from managing a society is that the players that make it to the NFL are already super achievers, in their profession, and goals and rewards are not entirely based on money. It is also based on the fact that they are competing in a sport and that they want to achieve fame, recognition, honor and championships.

    Money is not the sole value in the football world, and there are a very limited amount of people that are able to produce this particular level of play. Therefore the comparison is fallacy.

  58. dcviking says: Apr 26, 2011 11:15 AM

    @teddyrex -

    Thanks for the additional breakdown.

    If, absent a union providing a colluding entity for the players, why couldn’t the teams choose to make their own schedules (I know it’s absurd but bear with me), or play games under different sets of game rules (based on agreement between the two entities [teams]).

    My real question: since teams must now act as independent entities and not in collusion (if I understand your post correctly), why can’t they change any of the rules they wish to operate their business under — not just the ones which govern compensation and their relationship with the players.

    Also, couldn’t teams make players “contractors” rather than employees? I know there is a whole other set of law regarding this condition, but I’m just wondering.

    Ultimately, this would result in anarchy and a very different “league structure”, but could they do it???

  59. argile2000 says: Apr 26, 2011 11:28 AM

    Another question is this… Can we fairly apply antitrust laws to an institution of this nature?

    The reason I ask is this… Is it even possible to have a sports league without collusion?

    If the answer is no… Then no matter what happens, the NFL will be screwed, because the players can be both a union and a trade organization. It will just depend on their needs.

    I do not see how this could be constitutional if it is physically impossible for the NFL to not collude.

  60. crazy2bbengals says: Apr 26, 2011 11:41 AM

    Ever read something and in your head all you hear is Charlie Brown’s Teacher?

  61. dcviking says: Apr 26, 2011 12:05 PM

    @argile2000 -

    Your question is kind of what I was driving at (though you were probably more clear).

    Unlike other businesses, sports leagues need “competition” and therefore must abide by a common set of rules (which seems to me to be collusive).

    Other businesses seek to eliminate competition as to gain greater market share and thus work independently to achieve their own gains — so it doesn’t matter what happens to any of the other competitors.

  62. highdcx says: Apr 26, 2011 1:57 PM

    Hey ..I got a great idea!
    Let’s let the players run the whole league and they can just decide what the owners should be paid.
    If it wasn’t for all their hard work we wouldn’t have anyone to worship.Maybe the NFL should change their name to something more fitting like “Football Players Showcase” or “More Money for Less Work League”.

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