Lockout To Be Lifted Monday?


A decision on the NFL lockout will come on Monday when Judge Susan Nelson will make her ruling on the initial players case against the NFL regarding the legality of the lockout.  The decision will solely be based on her opinion of whether the league was wrong in locking out the players because they were no longer a union.  This is what many in the media are hearing will be the decision.  However, she could also say that the union’s decertification was a sham and that it was done simply to stop negotiations.

If I were you, I would hope she rules for the latter.

I know, I know, a decision to remove the lockout would potentially put football and even free agency back on the calendar but the league will appeal the decision and it’s likely that the judge will not allow a lift of the lockout until the appeal is heard by the appeals court.  Thus, the lockout will continue and it will simply be a minor victory for the players.

If the league is found to have been just in their lockout, sending a blow to the players, then the lockout will continue while the players appeal.  But here is the caveat to that.  The appeals court is primarily made up of Republican judges who tend to lean more towards the side of business instead of employees.  The players know they will have a hard time in the appeals process.  Thus, it’s more than likely that they will find themselves back at the bargaining table with the owners sooner rather than later.  If the players win this round, they will have little if any incentive to go back to negotiations hoping that they will get a better deal through litigation.

The other issue I have with this is Jeffrey Kessler who is lead council for the players.  He has openly stated that he wants the courts to rule that free agency, the draft, and just about everything else that goes on with the NFL is illegal and thus be ordered to stop.  In other words, if the players continue to win, there could potentially be no more drafts…which would set precedence for every other sport as well.  Free agency would no longer have restrictions and when a contract is up it’s up and that player can do whatever he wants to do.  College students could skip college all together or leave after one or two years to sign contracts with the NFL.

In other words, it could be a completely different landscape for professional football.

I want to see football back as much as anyone, but I want to see it back with the structure in place to have a competitive balance as well as the draft and everything else.  I want to see a rookie wage scale and a salary cap.  If the players win, we might get players back in the training facilities, or even a few free agents changing teams, but this will do nothing for the future of the game and in fact could hinder it.  The reality is that whatever decision Nelson makes, it will be appealed.  The owners feel confident they will win the appeal and the player to some degree know they could lose it.  Unless Judge Nelson orders the lockout lifted while the appeal process continues, there won’t be any football and there won’t be any negotiations either.

If the players win this round, they will allow the litigation to continue knowing they have the upper hand until the appeals process is concluded (sometime in June).  If the owners win, the players will go back to negotiations and it’s more likely that when June rolls around, we will have already had a new CBA in place.  It’s really the only way we can make any headway in this, at least in my opinion.

Tags: Judge Susan Nelson NFL NFL Lockout NFLPA Decertification

  • tpl

    I agree. Football works very well in its present form. Besides, you shouldn’t mess with something that works.
    If you mess with it, the public could get disenchanted and
    abandon pro football, then where would the players be? I don’t think that would happen, but you can never tell.

  • antonio nunez

    think your exaggerating a little bit here Brian. I see it to be utterly impossible to remove the draft, free agency and basically the entire point of college ball. Not having this offseason is giving teams like our fins a real bad start because we DESPERATELY need free agency pick ups to even give us a shot at reaching play offs, better yet even a shot at being a .500 team! So if the players do win this round on Monday it would be absoluetly perfect so we can start building our new team under our new OC. The players winning won’t have any affect on the cba negotiations because it is still needed! There’s no football without a cba so they must continue negotiating after. The whole point of lifting the lock out is so teams can start building and making moves to better their organization! Allow us Fins to pick up V. Young or Kevin Kolb or D. Williams through out these negotiations cuz if not we will be the same bullshit team next year with a sorry qb going through a losing season. And there are plenty of other teams in this league who are depending on this offseason to make drastic imrpovements. Let us improve dam it! Not lifting the lock out is basically telling last years sorry teams, “hey, your gonna be sorry for another season now!” why even have have a season if ur throwing my same team on the field next season as the team who played as one of the worst teams last year!?! Only already well developed teams will be successful and not us! And Brian your saying by the time the apeal process finishes we would have had a new CBA? How the hell you figure?? Its been like 50 days already and nothing has gotten better? Why would you assume we would reach a deal come June? Not even mediation has brought this dam cba together so I don’t think lifting the lock out is gonna slow something down that is already at a stand still.

  • ag

    Completely disagree with you Antonio. Yes, the Dolphins need free agency to not only add to the team, but I think the regime will also try to offload a few players to get more draft picks. However, with that being said, what are they building for? At this point, the players have been on the winning side of the CBA for the past several years, but they are the ones that are the least open to mediation and a new CBA. You state the CBA is needed and it will happen, but clearly the players don’t care, and only want to go through the litigation process.

  • Brian Miller

    Antonio: First, as for the lockout…the judge is not likely to life the lockout and allow teams to operate as normal until the appeal hearing and even if she does, there is nothing that says what the rules will be…in other words, the league will have to redefine those rules and that will be met with resistance from the players…that’s a fact.

    As to there being more progress towards a CBA if the players lose, it’s simple…they likely don’t stand a good chance on appeal and the shift in mentality will be to get a deal done. The players are hanging all of their hopes on the litigation and if it starts to appear that they won’t win…they have no choice but to negotiate…the owners can wait it out. The players can’t.

    As for Kessler…I wouldn’t be so sure of there not being a draft if Kessler pushes the issue. The basis of their entire argument is that the each team is it’s own business and not one giant company…so the draft could technically be determined illegal. And if Kesslar pushes for that the judge could agree if they agree that the league is not one group.

  • MassanuttenRef

    Brian:

    Good job on the article. I am grateful that you keep us informed of what is going on with the NFL CBA.

    I think there will be more to this ruling than just football and sports. Look what is happening to Boeing. Look what is happening with the sleeping air traffic controllers — some who are getting away with sleeping on the job and not getting fired (not all have been fired).

    I sure hope some sanity is restored in the United States with management and unions. I am not against unions. But, this is clearly a struggle for power than is going on all over America. It is hurting the country.