With the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit giving the NFL a significant victory in Monday’s ruling granting a stay of the order lifting the lockout — and dropping very clear hints that the league will prevail on the appeal of Judge Nelson’s ruling — the league has issued a response that calls for the two sides to get back to the bargaining table and get a deal done.
“It is now time to devote all of our energy to reaching a comprehensive agreement that will improve the game for the benefit of current and retired players, teams, and, most importantly, the fans,” the NFL said in a statement forwarded to PFT. “This litigation has taken the parties away from the negotiating table where these issues should be resolved. We remain confident that the appellate court will determine that this is a labor dispute that should be governed by federal labor law. But the league and players, without further delay, should control their own destiny and decide the future of the NFL together through negotiation.”
The players were much more muted in their response to the ruling, as expected. “The NFL’s request for a stay of the lockout that was granted today means no football,” the NFLPA* said in a statement posted at NFLLockout.com. “The players are in mediation and are working to try to save the 2011 season. The court will hear the full appeal on June 3.”
But with the court poised to reverse Judge Nelson’ ruling on or after June 3, the league has the leverage. The question is whether the league will try to crush the players with it, or whether the league will do a deal that the players will regard as fair.
Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reports that a new proposal has been made by the league, and that the players are considering the proposal and will respond. The process could go back and forth on Tuesday, and there’s no reason why the parties can’t keep talking without the mediator’s involvement after Tuesday, if momentum is building to get a deal done.
The best outcome, in our opinion, remains a long-term CBA that both the league and the players regard as fair. Though many people just want this mess to end, it needs to end the right way in order to keep it from happening again a few years down the road.
Then again, the league could decide that the best way to keep this from happening a few years down the road comes from pushing the litigation to a conclusion, so that the non-asterisked NFLPA won’t be able at some future juncture to decertify and sue if faced with a lockout. Hopefully, any settlement will include an agreement to seal that door in the future.