Earlier this week, the Clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit suggested that the court may not rule at all on the NFL’s pending motion to stay the lifting of the lockout while the appeal of Judge Nelson’s decision to end the lockout proceeds. The statement from Michael Gans to USA Today raised eyebrows, given that the paperwork has been submitted by the parties and the issue otherwise is teed up for consideration.
A theory has emerged regarding the possibility that the Eighth Circuit simply won’t rule on the motion for a stay.
In 2009, Judge Steven M. Colloton agreed with the players in an appeal regarding Mike Vick’s bonus money from the Falcons, and regarding the league’s effort to bump Judge David Doty from his position as the overseer of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Colloton, who was nominated for his position by President George W. Bush and thus arguably predisposed to enter pro-business rulings, is viewed in some league circles as a possible swing vote in the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit.
Last week, Judge Colloton and Judge Duane Benton agreed to give the NFL a temporary stay, with Judge Kermit Bye strongly disagreeing. As to the motion for a full stay, some believe that Benton will side with the league, Bye will side with the players, and Colloton could go either way. And so the thinking is that Colloton may be reluctant to tip his hand as to the appeal itself by picking one side or the other when it comes to the motion for a stay.
Of course, that thinking could amount to over-thinking. But we’re thinking that the idle time during the stutter-step lockout has prompted so much thinking. Regardless of the reason for the delay, the Eighth Circuit’s failure to act on the motion for a stay is the latest unexpected development in a growing string of them.
Which of course means that a ruling on the motion for a stay probably will be announced later today.