Cornwell says there will be no lockout

Plenty of NFL observers have opinions as to whether owners will lock out players in 2011, if the current labor deal expires without a new one taking its place.

Sports attorney David Cornwell believes that there will be no lockout.

His opinion carries extra weight in our eyes, given that he was one of four finalists for the position of NFLPA Executive Director last March, along with De Smith, Trace Armstrong, and Troy Vincent.

As Cornwell explains it, the league and the union will negotiate to impasse in March 2011, and the league then will invoke a provision of federal labor law that allows the owners to impose new rules relating to wages and other terms of employment.  Under federal labor law, the rules must be substantially similar to the last offer made by the league.

The union could then strike.  The more likely outcome is that NFLPA would decertify and sue the league for violations of the same antitrust laws at issue in the American Needle case.  That’s why the union has been writing editorials for guys like Drew Brees in connection with the American Needle case, and it’s why NFL general counsel Jeff Pash tiptoed around my recent questions regarding whether the league believes it’s a “single entity” for labor purposes.

If Cornwell is right — and we’ve got a feeling he is — it means that the threat of a lockout will be used by the league to get the union to accept that final offer in March 2011.  Then, if the final offer is rejected, the owners will simply implement the new rules and hunker down for the legal challenge, with the first argument undoubtedly being that the NFL is a single entity that cannot violate the antitrust laws via its 32 franchises.

UPDATE:  Reached for comment by phone, NFLPA assistant executive director for external affairs George Attalah said that Cornwell’s take is an “interesting perspective.”  Added Attalah, “We read it, we pay attention to what everybody writes about these issues.  We think it’s interesting. . . .  We’re still preparing our players for the worst on one hand but we want to come to the table in good faith on the other.”

8 responses to “Cornwell says there will be no lockout

  1. Something tells me that the billionaires and the millionaires aren’t going to be stupid enough to ruin the biggest cash cow in the history of the world. If there is any kind of strike or lockout, it will take a decade or more for the league to recover, and both sides probably realize that.

  2. There’s as much a chance of a lockout as there is of me being named starting QB of the Colts.

  3. Setting aside the absence of commentary regarding the obvious question any typical fan would have – whether this speculated lawsuit would prevent any football from being played – this was a nice law review abstract.

  4. A lockout doesn’t worry me, because i don’t believe there will be one, but the uncapped NFL does worry me. It worries me a lot.

  5. While that’s Cornwell’s opinion, I’d love to know why we should give it any credence. He isn’t the winner of the union exec director spot. Maybe that is what he’d recommend had he won but….

  6. Here’s what i don’t understand. If the union decertifies why can’t then owners then move to become a totally NON union organization or refuse to even negotiate with Smith and instead begin to just negotiate contracts with individual players. Also, if the Judges rule that the league is not 1 entity, how then can you judge that the individual teams have to share any revenue with other teams? Thats like saying NBC has to give money to ABC or vise versa.

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