The NFL wanted another month to respond to the complaint filed by Tom Brady and nine other players on March 11, the day the NFLPA decertified and launched a legal strategy aimed at lifting the lockout and/or giving the players leverage via the antitrust laws. In the end, the NFL was required to respond today.
The NFL exercised its option to file a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety, a move that isn’t surprising under the circumstances. We’re in the process of tracking down the full-blown legal brief, but we anticipate based on the two-page motion that the NFL will reiterate some of its key arguments against the lifting of the lockout: (1) the Norris-LaGuardia Act prevents an order ending any lockout or strike arising from a labor dispute; (2) the non-statutory antitrust exemption continues to apply for at least a year after expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement; (3) the decertification of the NFLPA was a sham; and (4) the NLRB has primary jurisdiction on the question of whether the decertification of the NFLPA was a sham.
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the motion has been set for a hearing in September. Look for the players to file a motion for summary judgment with a request that it be heard at the same time, with the September hearing then morphing into an effort by both sides to win the case on the merits.
Let’s hope that hearing never happens.