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NFL’s flirtation with contempt of court intensifies

LockoutEnds Getty Images

On Monday, Judge Susan Nelson made her feelings regarding the NFL’s work stoppage known, entering an order that concluded with these key words:  “The lockout is enjoined.”

The league believed that it needed more guidance as to whether Judge Nelson meant what she had said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota issued a formal “Judgment in a Civil Case” granting the motion for preliminary injunction filed by the players, and reiterating the key words:  “The lockout is enjoined.”

And the league continued to believe that it needed more guidance as to whether Judge Nelson meant what she had said.

On Wednesday, Judge Nelson refused to stay the lifting of the lockout while the NFL appeals the ruling.  Based on the applicable legal standard, the decision isn’t a surprise.

So what next?  As we see it, the league can comply with Judge Nelson’s rulings and treat the lockout as over — or the league can maintain the status quo pending appeal of the decision not to stay the injunction, pending appeal.

The risk of a finding of contempt of court has spiked significantly after today’s events, in our view.  Though the league could project (feigned or otherwise) confusion on Monday and Tuesday, there is no doubt today regarding Judge Nelson’s intentions.

The lockout is over.  The injunction ending the lockout is not stayed.

In light of letters from the lawyers for the NFL and the players submitted to Judge Nelson on Wednesday, we believe the league no longer can credibly claim that further clarification is needed.

First, a letter from NFL local counsel Aaron D. Van Oort to Judge Nelson targeted the proposed order submitted by the players on Monday night elaborating on the ruling lifting the lockout.  “We believe that the prescriptive language of the Court’s Order — ‘The lockout is enjoined’ — coupled with the Opinion that precedes that language, provides sufficient guidance of the Court’s directions,” Van Oort writes.

The players saw the opening, and they drove a bus through it.  In a letter from players’ local counsel Barbara Berens to Judge Nelson, the players withdrew the proposed order, “[g]iven the NFL Defendants’ concession that they understand their obligations.”

In other words, Van Oort said all that needs to be said.  “The lockout is enjoined,” and all that that implies.

It means that the NFL, which has yet to issue a statement in response to the denial of the motion for a stay, must decide whether to fully and completely open for business, or to risk the penalties that arise from defying an order issued by a federal court.

The safest course would be to implement rules now (presumably, the terms of the last year of the expired labor deal, with some tweaks), and to allow teams to sign free agents, to cut players, to trade players, to launch their offseason programs, to communicate with players, and to otherwise transact business.

The lockout is enjoined.  In other words, the lockout is over.  The NFL engages in any behavior that conflicts with that reality at its own peril.

And the league should be concerned about more than contempt of court in the short term.  Judge Nelson will continue to preside over the case, and she’ll continue to issue key rulings.  If the NFL exhausts her patience at this threshold stage of the litigation, Judge Nelson could naturally be inclined to take a dim view of the league’s arguments and tactics moving forward.

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86 Responses to “NFL’s flirtation with contempt of court intensifies”
  1. sabeybaby says: Apr 27, 2011 10:40 PM

    How would you like to be a prosecutor in the Province of Minny-HaHa and have to try a case before those two liberal jackwagons Doty and Nelson? I’m surprised any criminals ever get convicted in that Province. What a joke.

  2. jeff061 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM

    You’re either out of the loop or an idiot. The denial to Stay – was expected – but had to be filed per protocol. Minnesota is a notoriously Player friendly court – tomorrow – the NFL will file their stay – as planned with the 8th circuit – who i imagine within 48 hours will stay her ruling.

    To infer that the NFL should implement rules, give up and move forward over a pro-union/court ruling is ridiculous – it just doesn’t work that way….but regrettably – with the backlog the 8th district has – this case won’t be heard till June…add in appeals when the players lose…your reporting in August – earliest

  3. jagerbolt says: Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM

    It’s like the NFL has put it’s hands over it’s ears and is yelling:

    LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

  4. heinzyrugby says: Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM

    I’m no legal expert, but how can someone simply refuse an order from a federal judge…

  5. tubal22 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM

    Ok then… Lockout is over. Players are free to return to work.

    Everyone is fired.

    Let’s get a new CBA.

  6. canadianvikingfaniii says: Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM

    “The lockout is enjoined.”
    —————–
    When I first read that as *enjoyed* in the previous article this was brought up I nearly slapped my computer off the desk.

  7. stylinandprofilin says: Apr 27, 2011 10:42 PM

    Let the proverbial doors open

  8. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: Apr 27, 2011 10:42 PM

    The league doesnt care what Judge Nelson the pro union puppet says.

    Why would they give a fig about what a woman who only entered the law field because she couldn’t cook, couldn’t clean, and couldn’t keep a man?

    The league is only concerned, and has ALWAYS only been concerned with what the justices on the 8th Circuit have to say. In a few weeks, the REAL judges will totally override Judge Susan Richard Nelson ( the he/she Judge)

  9. johnnymcc says: Apr 27, 2011 10:42 PM

    Hip Hip Hooray(?)!

  10. fballguy says: Apr 27, 2011 10:43 PM

    Enough of the legal mumbo jumbo…start signing FA’s.

  11. puntpasskick says: Apr 27, 2011 10:43 PM

    The NFL will reap what they sow… it’s that simple…

    Maybe the court would’ve been more sympathetic to your case if you weren’t found guilty ( in a federal court ) of orchestrating a lockout by negotiating TV contract payments…

    In the meantime, do what you’ve been ORDERED to do by a federal judge and stop acting like you’re above the law…

  12. pappysarcasm says: Apr 27, 2011 10:44 PM

    Lets play “If I was an Owner”..to the tune of “if I was a Rich Man”..

    I f I was an owner, I would double up the cha -ins on the gate, I would board and sail my yacht, flip them all the bird, (via my satellite uplink) If I were and wealthy NFL man!”

  13. realitypolice says: Apr 27, 2011 10:47 PM

    I suggested this yesterday, and got shouted down by several posters.

    Parties to lawsuits don’t have the right to ignore a judge’s order while waiting for clarification, or for any other reason.

    What one does is abide by the judge’s order WHILE seeking clarification.

    Even if they are not cited for contempt, the League is doing itself no favors by basically acting as if they are somehow entitled to place whatever interpretation they choose on what seems to be a pretty clear ruling from Judge Nelson.

    Judges tend to be proud people who didn’t get where they by having their authority trampled upon by surly defendants.

  14. 6thsense79 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:47 PM

    Wow. The league asked for it now here it is. Where are all the owner ass kissers who claimed Dee Smith was giving the players bad advice?

    What do you think of the advice the owners are getting? When put to a legal test the owners position almost always comes out on the bottom. Why haven’t their lawyers say you know what you guys are still making multi millions per years, the league is project to grow by billions over the next few years, NFL teams are amongst the few sports franchises worth about a billion dollars, cut your losses now.

  15. skindome1234 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:47 PM

    The arrogance of the owners to ignore this order has shown thier true intentions. I was on the fence on who to back. That is no longer the case! Stop the owners and make them pay. free agency and player trades during draft. Let’s go baby!!!

  16. pjk966 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:50 PM

    How does the NFL continue like this, every thing they do they can get sued for. You can’t run a business that way. How can a judge tell a business they have to stay open, unconstitutional.

  17. stellarperformance says: Apr 27, 2011 10:51 PM

    I think this allows the players to suffer nothing and get paid for it at the same time. A final decision in their favor is mostly desired by their well-paid and soon to be richer attorneys. The players are not in the mood for a fight. This just became a paid vacation.

  18. txchief says: Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM

    LABOR UNIONS DON’T CREATE JOBS, BUSINESSES DO. Time to export the league to China and Malaysia. We’ll get a better product for less money.

  19. valman61 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM

    So if I understand this correctly a league lawyer wrote and submitted a letter claiming they understand the lockout is over. Therefore we go back to last years rules and the players will not give an inch in further negotiations being there is no consequences to the contrary. Wow the owners opened pandoras box opting out of the old CBA. Now we all better hope the league softens it’s stance on negotiations and a new agreement is reached. If the nflpa takes this as a sign to go full steam ahead on the Brady suit and ultimately win were doomed. Let’s hope the nflpa are posturing with the suit in the attempt of getting a more favorable agreement.

  20. ursushorribilis says: Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM

    The League can choose when to start the “League Year.” At this point, they were not forced to start the “League Year” immediately. Consequently, they can wait for the 8th Circuit ruling before starting the “League Year.”

    A nice way to tell the left-wing activist judge where to put it!

  21. obxastronaut says: Apr 27, 2011 10:56 PM

    The players won. Owners and Goodell – for God’s sake enough is enough.

  22. elmoron says: Apr 27, 2011 10:56 PM

    Memo to “local NFL counsel Aaron D. Van Oort”: I’ve got a pretty applicable PFT posting name available for you if you’re interested.

  23. vikescry1 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:57 PM

    no reason they can’t play off of last years cba and i dunno actually get a new deal done within the next year so that we don’t go through this again next year! it cracks me up that players and nfl owners alway’s say (THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THIS) but yet they can’t stay in a room together to take care of the business? WTF

  24. Scott says: Apr 27, 2011 10:58 PM

    Would love to see the NFL say, OK, league year is open…everyone is cut. We’ll be having open tryouts in August. Good luck to all of you former players.

  25. airraid77 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:59 PM

    i would like to see the NFL, basically set rules in place that would send the players back to court …….
    a salary so low that nobody would want to play…
    No free agency.
    No Draft.
    and an 8 game season with no playoffs no superbowl.
    and to particpate must sign a waiver that says player is playing at his own risk.

  26. habsman says: Apr 27, 2011 11:00 PM

    I have been following this process for the past several months. Thank you Mike and the other members of the PFT staff for translating the legaleese into terms that everyone can understand. So, based on the findings of Judge Nelson (which will more than likely be upheld), the owners will be required at some point to negotiate at gun point. A warning to the players: Do not take advantage of your position of strength. Deal in good faith. We are watching.

    (RIP Habs)

  27. whatsupbb415 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:00 PM

    Can you Imagine Jerry Jones and Al Davis in jail lol that could be a reality TV show.. I can see Davis trying to rip the ole commish apart

  28. jamaltimore says: Apr 27, 2011 11:00 PM

    Geez Goodall is an expert at concussions and turning the nfl into soon to be National flagfootball league! However when it comes to dealing with this issue he looks like a total fool who got rolled by the nflpa. Not just him but Jerah and the rest look incompetent, it’s time to bring in Rusty Hardin!

    Someone’s goal must be to make the labor agreement run similiar to european soccer… Either the Owners are Idiots or the Fix is in kid

  29. dontcallmepete says: Apr 27, 2011 11:00 PM

    What the owners are flirting with is collusion. Ask the MLB owners how that worked out for them.

  30. narutofan10 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:01 PM

    LMAO these owners are poor losers roger goodell is an idiot just issue the order and allow movement so the draft can be even better to watch

  31. chaz1975 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:01 PM

    Based on this clarification by Judge Nelson, it doesn’t sound as if the NFL has any choice but to lift the lockout. They need to clarify the FA rules and let teams begin to do business as usual. This could have an effect on the draft because based on this teams should be able to trade players, not just picks. The NFL seems like they want to pretend that they can just ignore this b/c they feel they will win the appeal but that can take months. And it looks as though Judge Nelson reviewed this case very carefully (89 page decision) that may make it much more difficult to overturn. The owners may be in for a big surprise. They need to institute rules to work by immediately if not sooner and then get back to the bargaining table and get a deal done before things get worse for them. I was on their side if I had to pick one but I’m more on the side of whatever gives us our football back.

  32. bsandcs says: Apr 27, 2011 11:02 PM

    isn’t there a way for the league to use the NFLPA*’s self righteous crusade against them?

    clearly the courts are in the pockets of the wrong people so maybe the league should move forward with a set of non anti-trust rules that De Smith and the rest of his little gremlins have so egregiously lobbied for. Just make sure other rules that previously protected players so well, such as the salary floor and extensive benefits, are glaringly omitted.

  33. geefan1 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:03 PM

    So “officially” open for business, cut any players you don’t want following the draft, and allow players under contract to work out out or rehab. But you Can’t sign players, hold camps, play games, etc. without a CBA. So all those free agents and cookies don’t get paid, the agents don’t get paid and nobody gets a game check until a deal gets done.

  34. benh999 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:03 PM

    Once again, the labor lawyer turned football blogger fails to recognize a simple reality in the labor dispute. There is nothing at all to prevent individual clubs from acting on their own to lockout players. Unless NFLPA* counsel can prove lockouts are *explicitly* coordinated/directed by the NFL offices, it will be very difficult to enforce the ruling.

    Enjoy.

  35. mjohnson062 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:03 PM

    Okay, so I wasn’t previous on one “side” or the other, in terms of “supporting” the players or the owners, and I wouldn’t say I’m now “on” the players side, but I’m definitely not on the owners side now. This draft is screwed up for at least a handful of teams, because players can’t be traded for picks and picks must still be made to account for players who may or may not be either retained or acquired via either trade or free agency. The owners have ENSURED, in my view, that this season is heavily bruised and battered at this point, if not yet completely broken. The teams that weather this storm well will benefit, those that don’t will suffer. Which teams are which? Who knows. This is NOT a dynamic that is a part of the game as it was intended to be played, however. Since Monday, in my opinion, the owners have now clearly shown they’re willing to “win” this fight at all costs, even at the expense of the game. That, to me, is unforgivable.

  36. samoanjungle says: Apr 27, 2011 11:03 PM

    When the ruling was issued the NFL should have immediately returned to ordinary business. Refusing to speak to players, acting as group in not negotiating with FAs, trading etc should be contempt and collusion.

  37. nfllaborstrifesucks says: Apr 27, 2011 11:03 PM

    This is truly one of those situations that can get to a point that sours fans on this league in the short run because of confusion, and in the long run because of massive changes to what we’ve come to love about how the league functions and makes it great to follow.

  38. Deb says: Apr 27, 2011 11:04 PM

    The safest course would be to implement rules now (presumably, the terms of the last year of the expired labor deal, with some tweaks), and to allow teams to sign free agents, to cut players, to trade players, to launch their offseason programs, to communicate with players, and to otherwise transact business.

    Now why would you take the safe, rational, mature course when you can continue throwing tantrums over not getting your way? Since the cooler heads among the owners aren’t prevailing, a contempt order may be necessary.

    Let Goodell act as the token owner and jail him :)

  39. jebdamone says: Apr 27, 2011 11:04 PM

    this is why more players should have shown up to the facilities the last couple days and why more should show up tomorrow.
    the lockout is over players are not seizing their opportunity to put the heat on the owners even more so than they already are.
    i am also still kinda surprised the league and owners did not have a better game plan in the case of this ruling.
    this off season is going to be so crazy, i am pretty excited about the draft tomorrow.

  40. snnyjcbs says: Apr 27, 2011 11:06 PM

    NFL is open for business while they have the only Court that was ever going to issue a Stay issue the Stay which is the Appeals Court.

    If the owners do not want to sign Free Agents so be it, can you really blame them with all the uncertainty, lol.

    This little Judges Ruling was NO SUPRISE and was expected and we can all see why you gave up on being a Lawyer, the battle is just beginning and no matter which way it goes the owners hold all the cards.

    Expect a Stay of the Little Courts Ruling and for the Big Boys to take the Case over.

  41. nflfan101 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:06 PM

    The safest course would be to implement rules now (presumably, the terms of the last year of the expired labor deal, with some tweaks), and to allow teams to sign free agents, to cut players, to trade players, to launch their offseason programs, to communicate with players, and to otherwise transact business.

    ——————

    I disagree. The safest course for the NFL and the one that will lead to actual negotiations is to open for business without any player employment rules whatsoever.

    Applying any player employment rules will be deemed to be an anti-trust violation and ultimately cost the NFL a bucket load of money.

    If every team is free to employ whoever at whatever pay that the teams wants, then there is not an anti-trust violation.

    I truly believe that the rich players will get richer, but I also believe that the average players will get paid a lot less. If most players get less pay, then they will reform the union (as if it was really decertified) and finally negotiate in good faith.

  42. zaggs says: Apr 27, 2011 11:11 PM

    The League does not have to start its year. So far as I have heard NOTHING NELSON HAS SAID MEANS THE LEAGUE HAS TO TRANSACT BUSINESS. All her order means is that the League must let players into buildings, period. To say delaying the start of the year is a lockout is ridiculous. Were players locked out after Sept 11th because the league delayed games? Of course not. Not to mention that for every team to transact business at the same start, would further play into the players hands for anti-trust case. The players want it both ways. They want the league to act as one and all 32 teams start business now, but not to act as one when it comes to the draft.

  43. footballisking says: Apr 27, 2011 11:12 PM

    I am reminded of what Mark Cuban said last year when the NFL scheduled games during the world series…he said that the NFL’s arrogance would catch up with them and they would be brought down to size…Cuban must be a prophet

  44. toiletking says: Apr 27, 2011 11:12 PM

    sabeybaby says: Apr 27, 2011 10:40 PM

    “How would you like to be a prosecutor in the Province of Minny-HaHa and have to try a case before those two liberal jackwagons Doty and Nelson? I’m surprised any criminals ever get convicted in that Province. What a joke.”

    Poor baby wost his wittle wockout?

  45. thomasreilly says: Apr 27, 2011 11:13 PM

    You have to wonder- if a five year extension of the old CB A was on the table right now, would the owners accept it? Would the players?

    The legal landscape seems to be changing. If the players want to swing the hammer, who could blame them? If the players accepted the old CBA, it would almost seem to be a concession on the part of the players.

  46. toiletking says: Apr 27, 2011 11:13 PM

    As a redskins fan, I’d like to volunteer Dan Snyder to serve any jail time Nelson gives the NFL for contempt of court….

  47. phonecops says: Apr 27, 2011 11:15 PM

    You would think GMs would love this, now they can trade players for picks this weekend. Maybe Carson Palmer doesn’t have to retire after all.

  48. dcviking says: Apr 27, 2011 11:15 PM

    @nflfan101 -

    I agree 100% — how any attempt to implement rules from the last labor deal wouldn’t violate antitrust laws is a mystery to me.

    It would be great if some teams made it mandatory that all players under contract report on Monday for a 40 hour week — let’s go full pads, let’s get ready for the season, let’s have 4 months of training camp. Of course, not every team could do that (don’t want collusion), so other teams should wait 2 months before implementing such a plan.

    BTW — what’s the minimum wage now? 8 dollars / hour.

  49. Scott says: Apr 27, 2011 11:16 PM

    Owners hould use the Cloward and Piven strategy. Give the players everything they ask for then make them live to every specific detail of what they want. It will eventually ruin 98% of the players in the league. Owners will still make money.

    At some point the whole thing will need to blow up and be destroyed. The NFL will cease to exist for a while, but by the time my 9 year old son is 35 or 40 the NFL may be great again.

    I am so dissapointed at the players, I am embarrassed to be a fan.

    NBA playoffs huh? Yeah thats right…that is how bad it is.

  50. realitypolice says: Apr 27, 2011 11:19 PM

    jeff061 says:
    Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM
    You’re either out of the loop or an idiot. The denial to Stay – was expected – but had to be filed per protocol. Minnesota is a notoriously Player friendly court – tomorrow – the NFL will file their stay – as planned with the 8th circuit – who i imagine within 48 hours will stay her ruling.

    To infer that the NFL should implement rules, give up and move forward over a pro-union/court ruling is ridiculous – it just doesn’t work that way….but regrettably – with the backlog the 8th district has – this case won’t be heard till June…add in appeals when the players lose…your reporting in August – earlies
    ==============================

    No one is asking them to give up. But they do have a legal responsibility to abide by the judge’s ruling while they appeal.

    They don’t have the right to ignore the judge’s ruling because they don’t like it and say “we’re not doing anything until our appeal is heard”.

    Doesn’t work that way and if you think it does you should stop calling people idiots until you know what you’re talking about.

  51. realitypolice says: Apr 27, 2011 11:21 PM

    Scott says:
    Apr 27, 2011 10:58 PM
    Would love to see the NFL say, OK, league year is open…everyone is cut. We’ll be having open tryouts in August. Good luck to all of you former players.
    =====================

    You’d like that, huh?

    I would call that the UFL.

    How much of that did you watch last year?

  52. stanklepoot says: Apr 27, 2011 11:21 PM

    txchief says: Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM

    LABOR UNIONS DON’T CREATE JOBS, BUSINESSES DO. Time to export the league to China and Malaysia. We’ll get a better product for less money.
    _______________________
    Someone apparently isn’t paying attention to the case at hand. The union was dissolved. There is no union, and that is why the owners are getting their butts kicked in court right now. The owners would love nothing more for there to be a union right now.

  53. stanklepoot says: Apr 27, 2011 11:26 PM

    ursushorribilis says: Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM

    The League can choose when to start the “League Year.” At this point, they were not forced to start the “League Year” immediately. Consequently, they can wait for the 8th Circuit ruling before starting the “League Year.”

    A nice way to tell the left-wing activist judge where to put it!
    ____________________
    No, they can’t. The judge specifically states (per the NFL’s request for clarification) that the league year must start now. Refusing to do so while waiting to hear from the appellate court is a violation of the court order. Put simply, the act of requesting a stay does not automatically create a short term stay. Without a stay, there is no stay, and the league is now playing a completely new game where it’s their butts on the line instead of the players.

  54. txchief says: Apr 27, 2011 11:26 PM

    Shut’er down! Let the playas get a real job. The amount of money the superstar players (and unproven draft picks) earn is obscene. The current system is about to max out what the fans can afford to pay to attend the games and what the broadcasters can charge for advertising. The games exist for you to watch the commercials and buy the advertisers’ products.

  55. Scott says: Apr 27, 2011 11:27 PM

    F the players. The owners are richer than them…hang tough owners. Save the game! The players only wish to destory it.

    Sue the players, sue judge Nelson, sue Obama. Professional football must be saved.

  56. buffalocozzmo says: Apr 27, 2011 11:27 PM

    Judge Nelson made her decision before anyone ever presented the case. She is Doty’s puppet. If the draft goes away Buffalo will not be able to compete effectively for free agents because of location and be forced to move to a bigger city. Save the future of the draft.

  57. pfmadden says: Apr 27, 2011 11:30 PM

    People on this site crack me up.

    The 32 teams can’t pull crap like collectively suppressing salaries to absurdly low levels, institute across the board labor rules designed to make the players regret pursuing this suit, fire all players. Well, they could, but then they unquestionably behave in an illegal anticompetitive manner.

    Look, the league is faced with an anti-trust class action be the players – as a class not a union. Of course the players have benefited from the anticompetitive practices.

    The players have simply made a calculated decision to say to the owners that they are willing to blow this whole thing up if the owners won’t play “fair” (as the players define it). In essence, that means that the players and owners are playing a game of chicken even now recognizing that the end game here is bad for both parties.

    If the owners engage in the practices some of you knuckleheads are asking for, the owners will a) be on the hook with the DOJ, not just the players; but more importantly b) give the players even more of an incentive to blow the whole thing up. For this to end, the owners have to make the players an offer the players deem worthy of not risking everything for. That, ostensibly means offering more than the players have been offered so far. How much more? well much more with each loss by the NFL in court.

  58. patpatriotagain says: Apr 27, 2011 11:31 PM

    the nfl should make new rules: everyone gets minimum wage.

  59. elmoron says: Apr 27, 2011 11:32 PM

    Second Memo to “local NFL counsel Aaron D. Van Oort”: Does the name Orley Taitz mean anything to you?

  60. ktfulmer says: Apr 27, 2011 11:33 PM

    Leave it to a woman to ruin football.

  61. stanklepoot says: Apr 27, 2011 11:34 PM

    bsandcs says: Apr 27, 2011 11:02 PM

    isn’t there a way for the league to use the NFLPA*’s self righteous crusade against them?

    clearly the courts are in the pockets of the wrong people so maybe the league should move forward with a set of non anti-trust rules that De Smith and the rest of his little gremlins have so egregiously lobbied for. Just make sure other rules that previously protected players so well, such as the salary floor and extensive benefits, are glaringly omitted.
    ____________________
    The courts are in the pocket of the law, not either side in this case. It’s just that the law is not in favor of the owners. There is quite simply only one way that the owners can win, and that is if the courts rule that the players lacked the right to dissolve their union. The owners are counting on the conservative appeals court to save them, but that means that this conservative court will have to rule that once a worker joins a union, they must remain unionized. How many conservatives will feel comfortable arguing that workers must be unionized? Unless that happens on the appeals level, the owners are utterly screwed.

  62. quirtevans says: Apr 27, 2011 11:40 PM

    The amateur lawyers around here suggesting that the league could just cut everyone are pretty amusing. I suppose you’ve forgotten that many of the players are under contract? And that, in some cases, the teams do not have the right unilaterally to cut those players, because some portion of the contracts are guaranteed?

    The teams are 32 separate businesses. Absent some exemption from the anti-trust laws, they can’t act collectively. If they do, they are liable for triple damages under the anti-trust laws. Triple damages would be devastating.

    Goodell’s a lawyer, and a damned good one. I’ll be very surprised if he risks contempt of court by ignoring the court’s clear order to end the lockout.

    What the league will do is file some sort of expedited or emergency appeal with the 8th Circuit, and pray as hard as it can that the 8th Circuit issues the stay that the judge refused to issue. But, in the meantime, the lockout is over. And the league acts in concert at its own peril.

  63. dontouchmyjunk says: Apr 27, 2011 11:42 PM

    To my surprise, this is actually getting exciting. Would love to see Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell, and Daniel Snyder get slammed in the county jail for a weekend for contempt of court!!! Make it happen Judge Nelson! You go girl!

  64. rkt4mayor says: Apr 27, 2011 11:56 PM

    Anyone siding with the arrogant NFL owners and commissioner is not a genuine football fan and most likely a paid for owner troll.

    The owners are now in contempt of court. If the 8th circuit doesn’t issue a stay, then the owners face legal consequences for their stubborn obstinance.

    The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 against the NFL in the American Needle Case.

    Judge Doty and Nelson have now followed.

    Welcome to America Jerry Jones! Money can buy you lots but not a court case!

  65. odessabucs says: Apr 27, 2011 11:58 PM

    Nelson & Doty are on the verge of destroying the NFL as we know it.

    And the real idiots in all of this are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees by lending their names to this travesty. They obviously haven’t a clue about the ramifications of where this is going.

  66. thefiesty1 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:12 AM

    Well now the owners can join all the players in jail. The lockout is officially over so move on. Draft the players, make trades, etc and then release all the veteran players. They are no longer employed. Then each former player can sue for breach of contract. Somewhere the league can find a reasonable judge.

  67. philphan1 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:12 AM

    I can’t believe they are not already in contempt. By any standard the league has dragged its feet in following the Judge’s order.

    Why doesn’t the league just get back to the table without the Jerriodiots….Jones and Richardson. Their attitude is that of rich jackasses that are surrounded by yes-men, and never hear the word NO.

    Get Rooney, Kraft & Mara in a room with the players’ reps and let’s get a deal done. They should, but can’t. More and more it looks like the owners’ whole not makin enough money argument was a money-grubbing smokescreen.

  68. dcbronco says: Apr 28, 2011 12:16 AM

    We live in such a sad country when the rule of law matters so much less than who the judge was appointed by. Judge Nelson is following the rule of law. No one but the owners are surprised by her verdict. They thought they were special. Someone should have told them that when everyone involved in a case is rich, the rich guy can lose.

    I would love someone who supports the owner, and has some experience with the law, to explain where the owners were cheated. When the owners opted out, the union disbanded and the CBA expired, AT law came into play. At that point they can no longer shut the players out. The only thing the league can do is do no business at all, including the draft. Or go back to business with complete free-agency until they get another CBA. One or the other.

    If they don’t get a stay from the 8th and still refuse to start business, the judge should throw every owner in jail.

    Go back to the negotiation table and stop being mutts. And if you believe the 8th should overturn Nelson just because they were nominated by Republicans, then we should just tear up the Constitution and give everything back to the Native Americans. Talk about someone that should be suing.

  69. rad312 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:24 AM

    The simple answer is the owners will take the fight to the 8th Circuit for a fair and non-biased appeal, in parallel the owners will open the doors for workouts and engagement with draft picks up to the extent of playbooks and workout regimens however will not engage in free agency negotiations / signings until after presenting their appeal to the 8th Circuit.

    After which time the owners will either receive their stay or put in-place rules governing free agency and etc. The risk being run is roughly 5-8 business days. A hearing (if heard) with respects to contempt of court would run parallel to appeal with the 8th Circuit.

    I find it amazing that people do not see the significant impact to the NFL GAME and the other major sports with the biased pro-union rulings being handed down by Doty and his toady Nelson. Wake up folks……the GAME we knew will be no longer with this the likes of De Smith and Kessler given such favorable rulings as being handed down by Judge Nelson.

  70. mjohnson062 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:40 AM

    Seriously, some of you folks are too dumb to even be watching football. This isn’t politics, this isn’t Donkeys and Elephants, it is way more important: THIS IS FOOTBALL. Ending the lockout = back to business as usual – willful ignorance/indifference/illegal action is the only reason to “misunderstand” this. I care not what politics might be behind this (calling this “labor” in a liberal sense vs. business in a conservative sense is just ludicrous). This dumbassery needs to cease. Seriously, the NFL is one of the only businesses that’s actually growing and the collective participants are going out of their way to shut it down and bring lawyers in?

  71. scytherius says: Apr 28, 2011 1:42 AM

    Standard Right Wing meme … ignore the laws you don’t like.

    Screw the billionaire owners. let their league go up in smoke.

  72. vomitingliberals says: Apr 28, 2011 1:56 AM

    dcbronco, you are full of yourself. First off, common leftist talking points will get you nowhere with thinking people. The Native American Tribes, you suggest, should sue? LOL. There isn’t one nation on the face of this earth that isn’t the product of bloodshed, war, and/or slavery. Get over it already with the Native American talk, jeesh.

    Judge Nelson was appointed by Obama to push away from Constitutional law and begin the transformation of our system into one that is obsessed with “social justice” as socialists & commies often call it, and promoting the union vampires who destroy every business in their path. The NFLPA is still a union to anyone with a brain. Decertification changes only the legal status of these moochers, but Judge Nelson still recognizes the political spirit of their arguments and she was hired to favor them, so she did.

    When this case arrives in the constitutionally sound hands of a court that understands that the federal government has no business telling private companies that they must remain open against their will, the NFL will prevail. Anyone favoring Judge Nelson and DeMo are “useful idiots” of a tyrannical socialist machine called the federal government under Obama, and you will deserve the inevitable destruction of the league you claim to love.

  73. 28tb says: Apr 28, 2011 3:19 AM

    Is it me or does it seem like these stories just keep getting pumped out so that they can put up a different picture of chains in each article.

  74. bobbyhoying says: Apr 28, 2011 6:52 AM

    Hasn’t Barrycare been ruled illegal in Federal Court? Does he care? Why should NFL owners care about a liberal judge?

  75. skoobyfl says: Apr 28, 2011 7:27 AM

    I hope they take Ralph Wilson to jail, he’s been robbing from Buffalo for years.

  76. raiderman41 says: Apr 28, 2011 7:52 AM

    Be careful what you wish for.

    So, the NFL now should be open for business. And it should be careful to not violate antitrust rules. Fine.

    32 different teams with 32 different sets of rules. One team has 53 players, another one has 40. One team offers benefits, another one doesn’t. One team requires 12 weeks of training camp, another one requires 6. One team has mandatory drug testing and rules enforcing very strict personnel conduct policies resulting in 4 game suspensions for minor offenses, another has an anything goes type of attitude. One team has a veteran minimum of $100,000 per year, while another one offers 400,000.

    Cancel the NFL draft. Let players negotiate with any team. The top players get much lower salaries than they do now, while the other picks also get much lower salaries. There is no salary floor. One team pays all of it’s players a total of $40 million, while another one pays it’s players $200 million.

    All teams show exorbitant profits, except for a couple owned by multibillionaires who see this as a hobby.

    The NFL moves to a 20 game season. The games become meaningless, as only four or five of the richest teams have a realistic chance of winning it all. The bottom tier playoff teams lose opening rounds by 50 or more points because they can’t compete against the better teams.

    Fans stay away in groves. TV money declines. Players begin seeing huge salary decreases. Most fans don’t even care anymore. The rich bastards have ruined a once great game.

    This is what the NFLPA is asking for, but do they REALLY want this?

  77. clintonportisheadd says: Apr 28, 2011 8:28 AM

    txchief says: Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM

    LABOR UNIONS DON’T CREATE JOBS, BUSINESSES DO. Time to export the league to China and Malaysia. We’ll get a better product for less money.

    ================

    Thats funny

  78. sneaky1632 says: Apr 28, 2011 9:04 AM

    I live in a state where unions are scarce, but I have never heared of a situation where the employees having more power than the employer works out. If you went to your boss and made all these outlandish demands, the boss would probably say hit the bricks. There is more than one football league in this world, if they dont like the way this one plays… go elsewhere. Oh but then they would’nt make as much money, is’nt that a shame.

  79. 28purple4mvp says: Apr 28, 2011 9:27 AM

    txchief says:
    Apr 27, 2011 10:53 PM
    LABOR UNIONS DON’T CREATE JOBS, BUSINESSES DO

    PURE FACT Well said

  80. stull60060 says: Apr 28, 2011 10:33 AM

    Once again. Who cares what the stupid judge says. A federal judge has ruled that Obama care is unconstitutional in its entirety. Yet, Obama and his democrat cronies in government continue with its implementation. Something more important than football. Your individual freedom is being taken away.

  81. dcbronco says: Apr 28, 2011 11:05 AM

    Rad, the problem with your belief that the owners can put rules on free agency in place if they get a stay makes it clear you don’t understand basic AT law. You think Judge Nelson was biased. But you don’t seem to know the basic rules. If there is no union or CBA, there can be no limits put on player movement. Your job can only stop you from going to the competition if you have agreed to that in a contract. Since a lot of these guys aren’t under contract or might soon be, they can go where they want. And since the NFL is not a new league and has a long history of handling off-seasons, it will be easy for a player to sue under AT law if it is obvious that the teams are working together to hold them back.

    And Vomit, I love you conservative jokes always hollering about freedom and Communism. Here’s a few facts for you. Rich NFL owners want tax payers to buy them new stadiums or else they will leave and go somewhere else. All but two teams made a profit. If they had gotten the best deal from the networks, they all would have made a profit. According to you jokes, when the rich have more money they create jobs. Last year the Forbes 400 made an additional 1.3 billion. We are somehow still in the worse recession since the depression. Sales at Saks are going through the roof though. And since you think a fixed set of judges will give you what you want. Look up American Needle point. It clearly stated that the NFL wasn’t one company. It was a group of companies with common interest. That was the Supreme Court that made that decision, by the way. Mostly conservatives.

    So what you’re really saying is what most conservatives really want. You want to have all corporations get together and fix prices. You want to limit employee mobility so that you ca pay as little as possible. You want the public to come together and pay for your office. You want your company to have the same rights as a person, without the same tax obligation. You don’t want the people to be able to strike, but you can look them out.

    So let’s see. You guys want all pay equal, everyone will be assigned a place to work, the people pay for your house. But you want to pay less taxes, you want people to be stuck at the job you assigned and if you don’t get your way you will take your ball and go home.

    You guys sound like the communist. Spoiled 3 year old communist.

  82. dcbronco says: Apr 28, 2011 11:42 AM

    Raiderman, the players have not asked for complete free-agency. They have said on several occasions that they what the CBA to remain as it is. Everyone knows the league would fall apart if there was complete free-agency. Paul Allen would win every year if he was committed. Teams would merge and the league would shrink down to a few teams after awhile until they realize it’s a waste. People would stay away. The league would eventually fold or be forced to sell it’s history to new ownership. This is not what the players are asking for.

    The players have agreed that there should be a rookie cap. That would limit the amount of money wasted on prospects that don’t pan out. Not as much as the league hiring guys that actually know what they’re doing, but hey. The truth is that complete free-agency is the players nuke. Just like a lockout was the owners nuke. The owners used theirs. The players are now using theirs. Unfortunately for the owners, with no CBA, the owners nuke is a dud while the players nuke is a 100 megaton bomb.

    Once again, it is illegal for a group of companies to get together and set salaries, prices or employee movement. If you are a doctor, the hospital you work for can’t stop you from working for the hospital across the street. You can quit if you don’t have a contract. Unless you are a part of a union. Being a part of a union means that they bargain your rights. With no NFLPA, the players are like you and me. They can go to any business and get a job. In this case a football job. If the owners collectively deny them that right after a judge made a ruling, they should be thrown in jail.

    The owners should stop being greedy. They already get a free billion. Asking for another free billion for stadiums that they don’t even pay for is ridiculous. Look at Minnesota. Even in this economy, with the unemployment rate where it is. A guy with a half a billion is asking the people to pay for his new office. Or else. Using politicians to get around the will of the people. It’s a joke. Plus they know revenue will almost double with the new network deals. No owner will make less than 50 million a year in profits. And since most, if not all, are getting a huge salary for themselves and family members as part of running the company they were all making money anyway.

    If they don’t want communism, give real capitalism. Complete free-agency. Not the fake capitalism we actually have. And the league will fail. Or they can go back to the table and hammer out an honest deal. I love my Broncos and was glad to see Pat Bowlen’s willingness to open his books. Most people don’t realize how much money corporations hide from taxes and how much money is made by individuals before revenue and profit is divided.

    Rich conservatives do, but they don’t want you to. Look up Buchwald v Paramount. Art Buchwald proved in court that the movie Coming to America was stolen from him. The film grossed over 200 million and was made for less than 40 million. Somehow Paramount was able to say they never made a profit on the movie and Buchwald got nothing. That is the same thing NFL owners do in their accounting. Just like the execs at Paramount, NFL owners are getting rich while pretending to be struggling. That’s why the players want to see the books.

  83. Deb says: Apr 28, 2011 7:13 PM

    ktfulmer says:

    Leave it to a woman to ruin football.
    ————————————————
    Really? CKL and I are both rational, well-informed businesswomen and football fans. She generally leans toward the owners, and I lean toward the players, but we both see areas for compromise. If they’d put us in a conference room in March and given us a few hours, they’d have had a new workable CBA, we’d all have enjoyed our free-agent period, and this drama would have been avoided.

    Women didn’t blow the negotiations, lock out, decertify, or sue. But a woman has now put the NFL back to work. If they’ll stop bickering, they can reach a new agreement and the antitrust suits will be dropped. The NFL will go back to business as usual and nothing will be ruined. Please stop whining.

  84. Deb says: Apr 28, 2011 7:15 PM

    @mjohnson062 …

    Amen!

  85. bsandcs says: Apr 28, 2011 8:40 PM

    @stanklepoot

    no i know, you’re right and i’m actually in total agreement with you about these matters of the court. i just despise de smith beyond all comprehension.

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