Skip to content

The court order is clear — the NFL should be conducting business as usual

NFL Lockout Football AP

Earlier tonight, I explained that the league’s flirtation with a finding of contempt of court has intensified in the wake of Judge Susan Nelson’s order denying the NFL’s request for a stay of the ruling lifting the lockout.  After reading the full text of her latest written opinion, I need to revise that.

It’s no longer flirtation.  It’s beyond flirtation.  It’s beyond courtship.  We’re convinced that, if the league doesn’t open for business immediately, the league will be in contempt of court.

In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that the league already is.

The logic is simple.  The league argued in support of the motion for a stay that forcing it to open the doors and transact business will cause irreparable harm to the NFL.  Judge Nelson concluded that it won’t.  Thus, Judge Nelson believes that the very thing that league wanted to avoid via a stay — ending the lockout and starting the 2011 league year, which would have begun on March 12 absent a lockout — must now occur.

One isolated sentence from Judge Nelson’s order has caused some to conclude that the league is not required to launch free agency.  “In fact, nothing in this Court’s Order obligates the NFL to even enter into any contract with the Players,” Judge Nelson writes at page 8 of the order.

To fully understand that sentence, it must be considered within the context that it appears.  Here’s the full paragraph, which addresses the league’s concern that any rules imposed for 2011 after ending the lockout will be attacked as violations of the antitrust laws:  “Accordingly, the NFL is only in the position of any defendant who has been accused of illegal action, but not (yet) found liable. The League can choose either to continue its allegedly-illegal behavior until judgment, or to modify its behavior.  But nothing legally compels either choice between April 25th and any future Eighth Circuit decision.  In such an environment, the Players cannot force any onerous contract terms on the NFL.  In fact, nothing in this Court’s Order obligates the NFL to even enter into any contract with the Players.  In short, the world of ‘chaos’ the NFL claims it has been thrust into — essentially the ‘free-market’ system this nation otherwise willfully operates under — is not compelled by this Court’s Order.”

The sentence in question is part of an explanation that the lifting of the lockout doesn’t require the league to adopt specific rules or, taking it to the extreme, to adopt no rules and to allow all 32 teams to compete for player services without any restrictions.  Judge Nelson’s point is that the ruling requires the NFL to do nothing other than end the lockout.

And by requiring the NFL to end the lockout, Judge Nelson necessarily has compelled the league to conduct business as usual.  Teams aren’t required to enter into contracts with players, but the league is required to launch free agency.

Thus, the league can comply with Judge Nelson’s orders only by ending the lockout, and everything that goes along with it.

Basically, the league should be conducting business as usual.  And if anything unusual happens, it will be evidence that the league is defying Judge Nelson’s order.

Permalink 52 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Top Stories, Union
52 Responses to “The court order is clear — the NFL should be conducting business as usual”
  1. zaggs says: Apr 28, 2011 12:02 AM

    Uh, no. Nelson says clearly “the NFL”, not “teams”. The money quote is “In fact, nothing in this Court’s Order obligates the NFL to even enter into any contract with the Players. “. If the NFL does not have to enter into contracts, it does not have to terminate contracts either. Starting free agency would be messing with the contracts.

  2. rkt4mayor says: Apr 28, 2011 12:02 AM

    Mike,

    The NFL owners are rich, arrogant men.

    Thus they aren’t used to following orders. Their arrogance and greed is going to cost them a mint, but they’re too stupid and arrogant to admit that just yet.

    Watch for the 8th circuit to grant a temporary stay and then like Judge Nelson rule against the league.

    The owners will still stupidly and without reason take their case to the Supreme Court which will refuse to hear their case.

    Meanwhile, Doty will fine them big time for their “Lockout Collusion” contracts with the networks and these 32 greedy punks will ruin the NFL.

  3. howboutthemtexans says: Apr 28, 2011 12:03 AM

    The league needs to take its medicine and open the doors.

    At the same time, the players need to realize that just because they won this specific round guarantees them absolutely nothing going forward, since the denial of the stay means ONLY that Nelson believed they had a non zero percent chance to win a future judgement.

    Open the doors, pocket the egos (on both sides) or shove them up your asses. No one cares. Sit down. Start talking.

  4. rkt4mayor says: Apr 28, 2011 12:03 AM

    Correction: 31 greedy punks. Forgot the Packers are controlled by a board.

  5. rkt4mayor says: Apr 28, 2011 12:06 AM

    Notice during working hours that all the commenters seemingly favor the owners and then after work most of the commenters favor the players?

    Either those who favor the owners are unemployed bums or they’re paid by the owners to comment on these boards.

    Just the facts ma’am…

  6. elmoron says: Apr 28, 2011 12:07 AM

    Got a feeling Jerry and The Headcases aren’t going to comply with a court order. They should place a call to Governor Walker regarding how that worked out for him.

  7. stanklepoot says: Apr 28, 2011 12:08 AM

    In other words Mike, no specific team is being ordered to sign any specific player or any group of players, nor are the terms of any potential signings being mandated by the Judge’s order. All teams, however, must be open for business. The exact rules under which said business is being conducted will be left to the league and the teams to decide. They’re free to enact rules meant to avoid anti-trust liability or rules that might strengthen the players’ case.

  8. lionsfan2014 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:08 AM

    So couldn’t going through the entire draft this weekend without one trade that includes a player be construed as not business as usual since almost ever year some players are traded at the draft?

  9. buffalocozzmo says: Apr 28, 2011 12:10 AM

    Susan Nelson is just bitter her husband Tom wont get off the couch on Sunday afternoons to do her bidding. So she’s vengeful towards the league.

  10. irjonny says: Apr 28, 2011 12:11 AM

    wow. how is nothing happening. not even an interview with goodell. the nfl is messing up the nfl, not the players at this point.

  11. dylanmusicfane says: Apr 28, 2011 12:12 AM

    grab up Jerry Jones and make him do a perp walk. then show it over and over millions of times. i know lots of people would love to see that!

  12. nyctexan says: Apr 28, 2011 12:12 AM

    But it’s not going to go back to normal. Is it me or does this whole thing makes grown men look like little kids?

  13. cappa662 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:14 AM

    Good read.

    Now maybe the Bears can go after Nnamdi Asomugha!

  14. brownsfn says: Apr 28, 2011 12:15 AM

    Bottom line is the NFL is screwed as a sport…The American Judicial system fails AGAIN…

  15. paulnoga says: Apr 28, 2011 12:16 AM

    Existing Contracts should be honored, to the letter. ANY new contracts can be illegal. The NFL can be sued for any direction it takes. No one can force free agency on the NFL.
    All franchise and transition tags are illegal, so do not do it.
    Take only players under contract and add players from the draft. Avoid free agents like the plague.

  16. kingtntitan says: Apr 28, 2011 12:21 AM

    Well cant the league simply just reach agreements to terms with players. Then when and if an agreement is reached they can redo contracts accordingly.

    Since they don’t have to do contracts with players.

  17. yankeesjetsknicksrangers says: Apr 28, 2011 12:24 AM

    Sorry guys we can’t open for business because it will cause irreparable harm.

    Well….. actually we just want open for a few days to have our draft, but thats it.

    So incredibly stupid

  18. danbo3330 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:25 AM

    Actually, the Judge is saying that the NFL’s actions aren’t per-se illegal at this time, but they may be found to be so in the future.

  19. zar21 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:35 AM

    Good.. does this mean the redskins can do something with McNabb.. maybe get a 3rd or 4th round pick for him? Throw in fat Al for free!

  20. kom2k10 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:41 AM

    The owners do seem to be losing a lot of the courtroom proceedings, but it seems to me that it has more to do with the fact that all the proceedings thus far have taken place in a very liberal courtroom that is flooded with democratic and pro-labor judges.

    This could just as easily have gone the other way had they started the proceedings in St. Louis. I do want to see football, but I would like to see the owners get a fair crack in a conservative or at least more neutral courtroom…

  21. jaymc1988 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:44 AM

    this doesnt make sense..if u cant get into contract discussions with no cba then how can u start free agency? Fa’s come (most of them) for the money..with no money deals able 2 be worked out its impossible to start free agency lol

    nfl is simply f**kn w our heads now..lammmmee(cartman voice) lol just got done watchin south park ..pretty hilarious

  22. jaymc1988 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:46 AM

    and i agree..once a contract is signed i dont think there should be ANYWAY the player or team can get out of it until its completely fullfilled–if u think its an injury risk dont sign him for 7 years..ive always hated how sports contracts work

  23. kom2k10 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:47 AM

    rkt4mayor says:
    Apr 28, 2011 12:06 AM
    Notice during working hours that all the commenters seemingly favor the owners and then after work most of the commenters favor the players?

    Either those who favor the owners are unemployed bums or they’re paid by the owners to comment on these boards.

    Just the facts ma’am…

    Um… actually it’s called a cell phone with internet access. Maybe the ones who support the owners actually work and can afford phones with internet access, and the ones who support the players may need to wait until they get home from their 9-5 jobs to go on the internet…

    Not saying this theory is absolute, but your argument is lame at best…

  24. cscfriarbob says: Apr 28, 2011 12:49 AM

    “We’re convinced that, if the league doesn’t open for business immediately, the league will be in contempt of court.”

    This whole trial process has been a complete farce from start to finish. Nelson has done nothing but show her bias for the players in practically her every word and deed. She might even be technically right about much or all of what she says, but the way she’s done it has essentially handed many different tidbits of evidence of bias over to the eighth-circus. In the end, this whole thing is going to be a complete circus, and it’s already a farce, which isn’t going to be fun for anybody.

  25. madnova says: Apr 28, 2011 12:56 AM

    So, if no NFL team even engages a free agent, how quickly does a charge of collusion come from the players?

  26. kom2k10 says: Apr 28, 2011 12:58 AM

    DeSmith has gone too far… These lawsuits and this new NFL they are trying to create makes me sick.

    Yes the owners opted out of the CBA because that was an option for BOTH parties when they collectively bargained it a few years ago. It makes sense that the owners (who had gotten a bad deal) exorcised their right to opt out.

    When players feel like they deserve a better deal, they opt out of their contracts all the time if it’s written in their contract! It’s their perogative to do so! Now that the owners try to do the same when they’ve gotten screwed, the union decertifies and stops negotiating and is now sueing the NFL for anything and everything.

    If one of the owners farts in a meeting room, they’ll probably sue him for creating an uncomfortable and unsanitary working enviornment and they’ll take it to another liberal judge who would rule in favor of the players again!

    But I guess that’s what happens when you hire a lawyer to brainwash all the players that he’s got their best interest and the games best interest at heart… you get a bunch of attorney’s making millions of dollars while the fans have to watch the destruction of their favorite sport.

  27. east96st says: Apr 28, 2011 12:58 AM

    “Bottom line is the NFL is screwed as a sport…The American Judicial system fails AGAIN…”

    Imagine the nerve, enforcing the law, as opposed to ruling based on your opinion! Where do they come off? Here’s a little experiment for you, head way down south to Mexico, commit a minor crime, and let us all know how THEIR judicial system worked out for you. You’re a Browns fan, so I’m guessing you live in or near Cleveland, so the accommodations and the food in Mexican prisons won’t be all that different from what you’re used to. And if you’re from East Cleveland, it will be an upgrade.

  28. msclemons67 says: Apr 28, 2011 1:06 AM

    Judge Nelson’s rulings may comfort the felons and miscreants of the NFLPA but they are irrelevant in the long term. The 8th circuit will decide this case.

    Judge Nelson has already contradicted court findings in the 2nd Circuit (NBA vs. Williams) and the Supreme Court (Brown vs. Pro Football, Inc.). The 8th Circuit will have to reconcile her rulings with established case law.

  29. raz75reb says: Apr 28, 2011 1:15 AM

    The draft was written into the last CBA as the last league activity. So conducting the draft would not constitute reopening the league.

    While the league, therefore teams, must reopen, a very real argument can be made for not entering into new contracts immediately, in the best interest of each individual team, not out of collusion. Given the uncertain legal landscape, teams can be justified for abstaining pending further information.

  30. qj1984 says: Apr 28, 2011 1:30 AM

    Here’s the thing though NFL teams do not HAVE to begin signing players just because the lockout has been lifted. Each and every team has the individual right to refuse to negotiate contracts with their players. The only thing that changes is the players that are under contract will now be allowed back to work. If the owners want to gain any leverage they need to stick to their guns. Cut pay roll by not signing free agents, until this uncertainty ends.

    You say collusion, I say a smart decision by the 32 business owners in the NFL.

  31. qj1984 says: Apr 28, 2011 1:35 AM

    Its just like when a normal business enacts a hiring freeze. There is nothing stopping NFL teams from doing the same.

  32. dontouchmyjunk says: Apr 28, 2011 1:38 AM

    JAIL! JAIL!! JAIL!!! JAIL!!!!

  33. piemasteruk says: Apr 28, 2011 1:43 AM

    “And by requiring the NFL to end the lockout, Judge Nelson necessarily has compelled the league to conduct business as usual. Teams aren’t required to enter into contracts with players, but the league is required to launch free agency.

    Basically, the league should be conducting business as usual. And if anything unusual happens, it will be evidence that the league is defying Judge Nelson’s order.”

    ————————-

    I can see why this would cause a crazy amount of confusion for the league and teams. Basically they have to open for business as usual and anything they do that qualifies as ‘unusual’ will put them in contempt of court.

    But what qualifies as ‘unusual’ exactly? The anti-trust lawsuit hanging over the NFL means that much of what teams and the league consider to be ‘business as usual’, including the draft, francise tags, the salary cap etc are being challenged as illegal. So how can the teams be expected to make decisions based on those mechanisms when they have no idea if these mechanisms are even valid? If a team trades a pick in this years draft for a pick in next years draft then they may never get to use it if the draft is declared illegal. But if teams *don’t* do this at all then they are not conducting ‘business as usual’ and are in contempt of court.

    So… what are they supposed to do?

  34. nflconspiracytheoristdeluxe says: Apr 28, 2011 2:12 AM

    Sounds like the NFL is damned is in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t spot. And damn, it’s like no one really cares anyway, not the fans, not the players, not the courts.

  35. liontomyself says: Apr 28, 2011 2:15 AM

    Buh-bye NFL as WE know it.

    Mike….I don’t understand why YOU are supporting this…….didn’t YOU also fear the loss of the NFL as we know it?

    No cap, no floor, no RFA, No UFA……. No union = no “protection” = no rules……congrats JJ!!

    Buh-bye baby buh-bye.

  36. snnyjcbs says: Apr 28, 2011 2:27 AM

    The Appeals Court has already been notified prior to the Ringer Judges denial of a Stay that the NFL was heading their way.

    I would bet that papers asking the Appeals Court to Stay her ruling have already been filed with the Court. The Court will grant a Stay of her Ruling.

    The Lockout has been lifted and Teams Doors are open should players choose to drop in. Agents are free to contact Teams regarding their Free Agents, if the Teams want to talk to them that is a whole different story.

    Do you know how many times I have lost in lower Court and even degraded by the Judge only to have the Higher Court over turn the Judges decision stating that the Judge had interpreted the Law wrong and this non Lawyer had interpreted it right.

    Lower Court Rulings are like paper in the wind, you see them one minute and the next they are gone. I am sure the NFL will read your article and decide to follow your advice lol

  37. paredskinwarrior says: Apr 28, 2011 4:36 AM

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GREAT DAY FOR THE USA FOR FANS AS THE MONEY GRUBBING OWNERS AND THE EVIL COMISH GOT PUT IN THEIR PLACE BY JUDGES ACTUALLY DOInG THEIR JOBS FOR ONCE!!

  38. stanklepoot says: Apr 28, 2011 5:09 AM

    elmoron says: Apr 28, 2011 12:07 AM

    Got a feeling Jerry and The Headcases aren’t going to comply with a court order. They should place a call to Governor Walker regarding how that worked out for him.
    ________________________
    knock, knock, knock. U.S. Marshalls here to meet with Mr. Jones. You might want to pack a toothbrush and some deodorant.

  39. airraid77 says: Apr 28, 2011 6:04 AM

    i cant believe how many of you are poor arrogant boys and girls…..LOL!
    If only this were about fa and trades and the draft……..but you simpletons havent a clue.

  40. eagleswin says: Apr 28, 2011 6:16 AM

    Her ruling is beyond stupid as business as usual without a union is a violation of the antitrust law.

    There is nothing she can do to force them to violate antitrust so i expect the NFL to say they are reviewing the procedures they will have to operate under until they get their stay from the 8th circuit. It’s quite reasonable as there are some important mechanisms entailed in “business as usual” that they will not be allowed to use.

  41. football2011 says: Apr 28, 2011 6:44 AM

    This is what happens when you let a guy like Jerry Jones run the league and you have an empty suit puppet comissioner who won’t tell the owners what they need to hear.

  42. chapnastier says: Apr 28, 2011 7:07 AM

    These player supporters really have no clue what they are supporting. Ignorance is certainly bliss in this world. Are you ready for an NFL without salary caps, floors, free agency, a draft or any of the other things that make football so much better than every other sport? You people just don’t get it.

  43. eagleswin says: Apr 28, 2011 7:11 AM

    yankeesjetsknicksrangers says:
    Apr 28, 2011 12:24 AM
    Sorry guys we can’t open for business because it will cause irreparable harm.

    Well….. actually we just want open for a few days to have our draft, but thats it.

    So incredibly stupid
    —————————–

    The draft is the final act stipulated by the prior CBA. The draft is exempted from the antitrust lawsuit because of that. Therefore, it does make sense.

  44. skoobyfl says: Apr 28, 2011 7:14 AM

    If a judge rules, who are these owners to decide not to obey it ?? We’re Billionaire’s, above the law is their thinking. Jail them if they do not act accordingly.

    Life is based on rules, regardless of your bank account size.

  45. jimr10 says: Apr 28, 2011 7:23 AM

    Do not understand the hate on Jerry Jones. I bet most of you wish you could own the Cowboys.

  46. ntr0py says: Apr 28, 2011 7:55 AM

    If judge Nelson felt that the league was obligated to immediately start the league year, she could have and would have ordered them to do so.

    In the absence of a CBA, the league can set its own time table for doing business.

    If the players believe that using a slower schedule than was used during the 2010 season is an anti-trust violation, then they can pursue that claim, but it is a far more difficult case that the one on which judge Nelson has already rules in their favor.

  47. realitypolice says: Apr 28, 2011 8:08 AM

    rkt4mayor says:
    Apr 28, 2011 12:06 AM

    Either those who favor the owners are unemployed bums or they’re paid by the owners to comment on these boards.

    Just the facts ma’am…
    =============================

    Or the people commenting during the day (such as myself) own their own companies/or and work out of offices in their homes, enabling them to visit PFT periodically during the day without having to answer to anyone.

  48. arcaero says: Apr 28, 2011 8:13 AM

    Top 5 reasons to dislike Jerry Jones:

    5. Vanity (plastic surgery…how Hollywood)
    4. Frugality (skimps on practice facility that collapses and maims employees)
    3. Narcissism (camera hog, sidelines during games, etc.)
    2. Arrogance (“America’s Team”? not in my town, pal)
    1. Bully (Mr. knuckle banger)

    I could add “lousy Manager” due to the Super Bowl fiasco, but hey, why pile on?

  49. mrznyc says: Apr 28, 2011 8:28 AM

    It’s all like some giant referee’s challenge – everyone who wanted to see a football game sits around while a bunch of “officials” decide what’s right or wrong. Just as exciting too.

  50. jvillejags says: Apr 28, 2011 8:53 AM

    I hope this works out for the players because I have been wanting to take my boss to court and make him pay me more…..great precedent!

  51. 3octaveFart says: Apr 28, 2011 9:44 AM

    This entire fiasco was brought to you by the owners with the aid of Roger Goodell.

    Enjoy your spoils boys. / :twisted:

  52. marthisdil says: Apr 28, 2011 10:06 AM

    @skoobyfl says: Apr 28, 2011 7:14 AM

    If a judge rules, who are these owners to decide not to obey it ?? We’re Billionaire’s, above the law is their thinking. Jail them if they do not act accordingly.

    Life is based on rules, regardless of your bank account size.

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

    Show me where the owners can disband their union, file a lawsuit, get their way, then reform the union afterwards?

    Oh, wait, you can’t. The owners need to screw the players. Since there’s no CBA, and the players aren’t in a union, the NFL and owners can dictate the rules now.

    Start with “Free agency starts the day before the first preseason game”

    Then implement a rookie salary scale

    Then add more fun stuff…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!