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League still not giving in on judicial oversight

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With the NFL and the NFLPA* resuming face-to-face meetings on Wednesday and no news trickling out from the talks, it’s easy to be even more encouraged that the discussions are moving toward a favorable conclusion.  After all, all signs were pointing to a deal getting done last week, before Adam Schefter of ESPN threw ice water on the media frenzy by reporting that some owners were opposed to the path on which the talks were heading.

With no one mounting a serious challenge (or, as far as anyone can tell, any challenge) to the league’s strategy when the owners met Tuesday in Chicago for what essentially amounted to a poop-or-get-off-the-pot/speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace-or-is-it-piece-I’m-not-sure-anyone-really-knows session, we should be right back where we were last week, before Schefter decided to play the role of Dr. Killjoy, right?

Possibly.

Here’s another potentially troubling detail that was lost in the reporting from Tuesday that, to the folks following this situation closely (all six of us), weren’t really news.  Asked by reporters about the possibility that the federal court in St. Louis could issue a ruling on whether the lockout will be lifted while the parties continue to negotiate, Commissioner Roger Goodell answered an entirely different question:  “We don’t anticipate there will be a federal court oversight.”

In other words, the NFL continues, by all appearances, to insist that the next CBA will include no language giving the federal court in Minnesota jurisdiction over any disputes that may arise.  As we’ve previously argued, it’s an unrealistic and unreasonable position, possibly arising from the general disdain that businessmen have with the court system.  We previously articulated four reasons for the league to give in on this point:  (1) one way or the other, a third party will resolve disputes as to the language of the CBA; (2) the lawyers have the power to draft a CBA that requires no interpretation later; (3) the conservative Eighth Circuit provides an acceptable safety net in light of the liberal/progressive/whatever word Democrats come up with next before Republicans can demonize it federal court in Minnesota; and (4) in the grand scheme of the labor relationship, the fights arising under the CBA are few and far between.

So let it go, NFL.  Use it to score some other concession and move on.  Otherwise, that last pothole on the road to labor peace could be the one that snaps an axle.

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19 Responses to “League still not giving in on judicial oversight”
  1. rpiotr01 says: Jun 23, 2011 7:05 AM

    Why shouldn’t they ask for it and get it? The players are getting some great stuff “on the side,” so to speak. They’re getting the salary floor raised to within an inch of the cap. They’re getting off-season mandatory workouts reduced significantly. They’re getting increases in benefits.

    The league wants oversight out of the courts and out of Minnesota. It’s reasonable and should not be an issue that holds up a deal.

  2. airraid77 says: Jun 23, 2011 7:12 AM

    only a pro union/anti buisness a.k.a liberal kook would write this story.

  3. eagleswin says: Jun 23, 2011 7:16 AM

    I am going to continue to disagree with your “judicial oversight is no big deal” stance.

    While the 8th circuit may provide some sort of safety net, it is a long expensive road to get there. Think of all the time and money the owners have had to spend to overturn minnesota’s rulings so far. Heck, the Min. judges spent extraordinary effort to try to block the owners from getting to the appelate (ie. 90 page judgement which you lauded as bulletproof and an immmediate end to the lockout which pretty much would’ve been the last word if the owners hadn’t been able to get emergency relief from the judges order.

    The owners had to walk a fine line to even get to the appeals stage.

    Also, don’t forget the Starcaps case. That was appealed in Minn. courts and took 3 years for the courts to uphold that the NFL could suspend them. 3 years! half the guys in the starcaps case are retired.

    Don’t forget that the NFLPA has always used the courts as their “hammer”. The special master (agreed to by both parties in the last CBA) ruled against the NFLPA so the NFLPA went to a place where a win was automatic, Min. courts.

    I think everyone here is sick of seeing the NFL in courtrooms because the NFLPA feels slighted. The NFLPA would take the NFL to court over a parking ticket if they thought they could get out of it.

    When the courts get involved everyone loses except the lawyers.

  4. jerrydesaulniers says: Jun 23, 2011 7:29 AM

    Wake me up when free agency starts!

  5. tumsman2 says: Jun 23, 2011 7:34 AM

    NFL should not settle this case. In 15 years, this will happen again. Might as well finish what was started. Now is the time!

  6. gregski79 says: Jun 23, 2011 7:34 AM

    One other issue that hasn’t been mentioned on any of these sites is the possibility of expanding the rosters from 53 to 56 or 57. This would make sense since the floor cap (cash) is going to go up and that’s essentially an extra 100 job openings for the players across the league.

  7. jtfris says: Jun 23, 2011 7:58 AM

    If I’m an owner in a stable market. I would be willing to lose up to a year (300mil) to get a 10 year deal where there is no court oversight. The potential liability from liberal judges making rules from the bench that impede my ability to make money make it too much of a risk. Courts would still get involved the other way, but not nearly as much because players/union would have to spend their dollars to sue me each time. They would probably be much more selective in choosing their fights.

  8. Caldon says: Jun 23, 2011 8:04 AM

    I hope they don’t give up on it. To address your points

    (1) “one way or the other, a third party will resolve disputes as to the language of the CBA;”

    I am sure the NFL is perfectly fine using a 3rd party arbitrator or some other style magistrate. However, it should not be judicial oversight – none of the other sports are required to have it and why agree to be overseen by a known biased group. Why not go with a 3rd party that both sides can agree to.

    (2) “the lawyers have the power to draft a CBA that requires no interpretation later; ”

    riiigggghhhtttt. do I really need to comment? If this was the case there would never be litigation over contracts or anything else lawyers write up. Please.

    (3) “the conservative Eighth Circuit provides an acceptable safety net in light of the liberal/progressive/whatever word Democrats come up with next before Republicans can demonize it federal court in Minnesota; ”

    Acceptable how? By taking years to resolve (starcaps) and bringing tons of bad PR to a process where it shouldn’t belong. Again, why submit to a first level you know is biased against you.

    (4) “in the grand scheme of the labor relationship, the fights arising under the CBA are few and far between.”

    Far and few between but when they occur they are big. Way to try to gloss past this point. If it is worth the NFL and NFLPA fighting out in court over something in a dispute, then it is worth fighting to not have judicial oversight and not have a party biased against your position from the start.

  9. tumsman2 says: Jun 23, 2011 8:07 AM

    on the contrary, i would lower the roster to 50. iron man football. and each greedy player will get more money (or justify why they should get the millions they are currently getting).

  10. polegojim says: Jun 23, 2011 8:11 AM

    Anyone who believes the disagreements will ALL be solved this year is crazy.

    Get all the compromises out of the way and just get ON with the 2011-12 season.

    Huge Ego’s on both sides + Billions of dollars at stake = Rigidity and ReNegotiation at any time

    Let’s Play Ball

  11. bubbabart says: Jun 23, 2011 8:56 AM

    You can’t count millionaire football players as “workers”…..that said…workers have gotten the shaft from conservative courts for years. Good luck getting relief from them.

  12. nflpasux says: Jun 23, 2011 9:53 AM

    “So let it go, NFL. Use it to score some other concession and move on. Otherwise, that last pothole on the road to labor peace could be the one that snaps an axle.”

    Huh???? That’s either unbelievably naive, or flat out biased in favor of the players. It’s a lot bigger issue than a “pothole”.

    While the media has been focusing on either the owners or the players as the villains in the lock-out, it likely that the lockout would not have occurred had the Minnesota Federal courts been muzzled. Judges Doty and Judy have been so predictable with their making up laws: why even bother to file papers when their biased rulings are already predetermined? All quantum disputes should be resolved via an arbitrator, limiting court involvement to matters of law, and explicitly exclude the biased Minnesota courts from any involvement.

    The league’s position is sound and should be maintained, even if it means the lockout continues into the season. It would be worth it to assure a decade of labor peace, by keeping the Minnesota courts noses out of the NFL.

  13. indianajet says: Jun 23, 2011 10:20 AM

    Schefter “threw ice water” on everything because he and everyone else at the 4 letter got scooped on the story that a framework for a deal was very close. I think CBS Sports was the first to break the story that major concessions had been made.

    So instead of verifying the story, Schefter and the hacks at the 4 letter do what they normally do when they get scooped – they come out with a completely opposite story to try and discredit the other reporters – i.e. the story that the owners are going to meet and there is going to be big problems between the owners. Which of course turned out to be completely false. Although Schefter will NEVER admit that he was wrong.

  14. deep64blue says: Jun 23, 2011 10:22 AM

    Totally disagree Mike.

    Let’s have a 3 person tribunal for resolving issues, NFLPA appoints one, NFL appoints one and the two of them appoint the third. No ridiculous waits for rulings and much less expensive.

    No reason either party should disagree with that.

  15. dbo2020 says: Jun 23, 2011 10:37 AM

    Maybe my brain is fried from the last couple of days, but how does Goodell’s answer pertain to a future CBA, and not simply the current lockout? I’m still not getting the connection between his answer and terms of a future CBA…

  16. andyreidisfat says: Jun 23, 2011 11:13 AM

    First off it is “Peace”.

    Second. if we don’t get this Lock settled my main man Fat Andy is going to just float away. The guy has nothing to do and he is getting fatter by the min. Please settle the lock out for this mans health. He needs the month in the sun at lehigh. He just needs it !

  17. username54 says: Jun 23, 2011 12:10 PM

    @nflpasux

    “The league’s position is sound and should be maintained, even if it means the lockout continues into the season. It would be worth it to assure a decade of labor peace, by keeping the Minnesota courts noses out of the NFL.”

    The person that wrote this is clearly not a football fan. This person would rather their own personal political axe were ground than watch football. They clearly see the demolition of workers’ rights (whoever the workers are) to be more important than getting football. This is a political bugbear rather than anything in particular to do with football. Frankly, take it elsewhere.

  18. cscfriarbob says: Jun 23, 2011 1:31 PM

    “We don’t anticipate there will be a federal court oversight.”

    Maybe this refers to the CBA… or maybe he simply misspoke. Goodell is not a politician and doesn’t have a politician’s rhetorical abilities. Change “oversight” to “intervention” and suddenly this does actually answer the question as asked and completely makes this whole article moot.

    As for the politics of MF’s opinion, I don’t think it actually shows here. He could be pro-labor or not, but what I think shows instead is his pro-lawyer bias. Most of us think lawyers are the scum of the earth and if they all disappeared tomorrow the world would probably be a better place. He doesn’t, and it’s understandable why not. So he doesn’t mind the courts and the lawyers the way the rest of us do.

  19. sandyf79705 says: Jun 23, 2011 1:41 PM

    Really believe Goodell was addressing the fact that there will be a new CBA before Doty or the 8th circuit rule on the cases before them not on anything about the new CBA. The new CBA will be 10 years in length making it unlikely that the courts would come into play until 2021 if at all.

    Second even without it in the CBA, all the players would have to do is wait until the CBA runs out and then individual players could sue anyway for anti-trust violations. All the players would need to do is inform the union if no CBA that they opt out of the union and will represent themselves individually. Of course then it would become a class action suit enjoining the players so not have 1700 suits of the same thing.

    It will not be a sticking point in the new CBA as some think. Really look at the age of most of the owners and 10 years from now it probably won’t be them running the teams if they are alive even.

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