The April 6th court date has come and gone and now all we have to look forward to is the waiting. Judge Susan Nelson is expected to render her decision in, oh, a couple of weeks. Maybe sooner. So while the draft approaches we all will simply have to wait for the decision which will then be promptly followed by an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Mo.
So what does this mean for fans? Well, for starters, it’s highly unlikely that the lockout will be lifted before the draft so that players can be traded along with draft picks. There will be no free agent period until well after the draft. And that’s about it. The only way that any of those two things can happen is if Judge Nelson finds in favor of the players and mandates that the lockout be lifted pending the appeal. Then the NFL will have to come up with temporary rules to govern the league until the appeals process is over and until the lawsuit is over.
According to one report yesterday, the ball of “non-negotiation” has swung to the NFL owners side. Following yesterdays initial hearing, the defunct NFLPA offered to begin “settlement” negotiations with the NFL who in turn flat out refused to negotiate a settlement, wanting instead to negotiate the terms of a new CBA. So now it appears that the league is willing to play the wait and see game now.
And again we ask, what does this mean? Nothing. It means nothing because much like the Democrats and Republicans who can’t agree on a fiscal budget because of political sides, the NFL and the players won’t budge a bit on how they negotiate a labor agreement. Until they decide to do that, or the judge mandates mediation, nothing will get done until the courts decide they have to.