Though it remains to be seen whether the NFL would respond to an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit lifting the lockout by shutting down all business operations, it’s becoming more and more clear that the option is on the table.
We mentioned eight days ago rumors that the owners are considering that path, if the appeals court determines that the lockout must end while the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit proceeds. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t rule it out last week on PFT Live, even though an unnamed NFL source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that a shutdown won’t be happening.
Now, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the shutdown option has indeed been considered.
“While the courts might rule that the league cannot lock out a non-union workforce, the league could up the stakes by essentially locking everyone out, business-side too,” Kaplan writes in Monday’s SportsBusiness Daily. “Sources who have talked to the NFL about the plans certainly do not describe them as definite but acknowledge that the idea of a complete shutdown has been considered. Many outside the league see this as simply a threat, but the league’s strategy all along has been if the players don’t bend early to get the work stoppage into the regular season so game checks are missed.”
While it all could be a scare tactic, we think that consideration of the option gives the owners a chance to vent their frustrations. And we don’t think they’ll use it. But, as Kaplan points out, if the end game has been to deny players their game checks in the hopes of getting them to agree to the NFL’s terms, there’s a chance it will happen.