Brady v. National Football League, 0:11-00639, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota Understanding the antitrust lawsuit can be a long lesson spent in legal terminology. But this Bloomberg articles makes the case simple.
SI.com Peter King and the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock try to tackle some tough questions about the NFL draft. Including who is the better quarterback prospect Gabbert or Newton? All in Kings “Monday Morning QB”
“A month ago," NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said Saturday, "I had significant questions about Cam Newton. But now, after studying him, I’ve bought into his skill set. Mechanically, he’s more advanced than Tim Tebow or Vince Young were entering the NFL. Now I have to buy into the kid. After God and family, in whatever order you have them, if football’s not next on your list of life priorities, then I don’t want you. If he’s that entertainer and icon…”—
SI.com by Mike Mayock of the NFL Network on the future of Cam Newton’s NFL draft potential.
All George Martin says he’s looking for is an ally in the battle to protect retired NFL players. Instead, he’s stuck in the middle of two NFL alumni groups battling among themselves.
In what’s also becoming an increasingly ugly fight, the former Giants defensive end and current director of the NFL Alumni Association, finally met with the now-decertified NFL Players Association on Wedensday. And according to two witnesses, the session was unproductive, contentious and filled with bitterness on both sides.
Martin, in an interview with the Daily News, called the whole experience “very unpleasant” and said he felt like a defendant at a war crimes trial.
"What was supposed to be a 15 minute presentation turned into a two-hour cross examination," Martin told the News. "And at the end of the day I still did not get the opportunity to speak (one-on-one) with the illustrious Mr. DeMaurice Smith, which speaks volumes about his credibility.”
Martin has been campaigning for a face-to-face meeting with Smith since Martin was hired by the NFL Alumni Association in Oct. of 2009. He thought he might finally get it when the NFLPA invited him to their meetings in Marco Island, Fla.
But while Smith was in the meeting with Martin, it was far from a one-on-one, as a large group from the NFLPA lead by former Bills linebacker Cornelius Bennett, a member of the union’s executive board representing retired players, were present. Smith took part, Martin said, and “had some rather candid accusations,” as did many others.
When you look at his picture of the 85’ Bear’s I want you to look closely. I am not sure what stadium they are playing at but besides the player’s I see a billboard space for Marlboro’s and CocaCola right next to each other. You have to laugh, because the league will never have an ad for Marlboros. Not just because it is illegal by law. This is an image that is now taboo in our society. I am pretty sure one day our kids will look at this and skip the Marlboro ad and say ‘hey CocaCola had a billboard’? Since one day CocaCola will be considered taboo as well. I have to laugh at how much we have changed, our technology, eating habits, fashion, and language; to be specific our culture has changed a lot since 1985.
From what I understand fantasy football started around this time. By the way that Wilfred Winkenbach (Google his name) story is an old wives tale in my opinion. You guys who are deep into fantasy football know who I am talking about.
Fantasy sports became organized around the mid 80’s and took off in the mid 90’s the most common fantasy football and fantasy baseball. As technology grew fantasy sports grew as well with the emergence of the internet scores could be posted in minutes instead of waiting for the box scores in the next morning’s paper. Host sites such as CBS sportsline and yahoo could now keep your scores and records as well as bring individuals together to form an online league.
The beauty of fantasy football is how it brings fans of different teams together with a common interest in players of the NFL that the fans should have no interest in. Now we even root for kickers when twenty years ago fans could care less if their own teams kicker scored much less the kicker of another team.
Initially the NFL did not embrace fantasy football since it was considered a form of gambling by some of the league higher ups but now the NFL has embraced fantasy football as a fans game.
If you take a quick look at the picture of the 85 Bears again you notice one player right away, Sweetness. Walter Payton passed away when I was in my early twenties of a rare liver disease his death was a shock to me. Walter was my childhood hero growing up and I will never be able to watch a Bears game without thinking about him or the 85 Bears.
When I was a kid I traded two sets of cards baseball and football depending on the season. If you ever knew the feeling of opening a pack of playing cards it was like a small taste of Christmas morning. If you found a player you loved you never traded him even if someone had three of a better player you still never traded him. For me that was Walter you never traded him.
The funny thing about fantasy football is it brings out child like feelings, the innocent feelings of how you view an athlete’s performance. You stop seeing the overpaid prim-donna and start to hope and cheer for them to find the end zone. You get in touch with that inner child and remember the feelings you had watching your sports hero’s and how they excited you. And just like a child we start care about silly things again like how your buddy will not trade you his QB for your third string RB but your starting WR is open season for trades.
Then theirs our wives have to hear the entire week how if that QB just did not throw that last interception we would be in second place in the division right now. And the one that makes all insane your RB missed a bonus by one yard it might as well be 100 miles!
But the bad stuff all goes away when you can walk into the draft room the next year with the championship trophy in your hands put it on the table and say ‘The Champ is Here now we can draft’! That is why we love fantasy football, we can be kids again and it is acceptable. I think I am going to go smoke a Marlboro, drink a CocaCola, and watch some Walter Payton videos on YouTube!
Thanks for reading and check in for more fantasy advice!
If there truly is a “Madden” curse, perhaps it’s not reserved for the player who appears on the video game’s cover each year.
Maybe the real curse is in choosing him.
"It’s very polarizing," said Anthony Stevenson, senior product manager for EA Sports, the game’s manufacturer. "No matter what we do, half the people will be really, really happy, and half the people will hate it."
Not even turning the process over to the people will solve EA Sports’ annual problem. For the first time in the game’s 23 years, fans can vote for their favorite team to be on the “Madden NFL 12” cover.
Stevenson doesn’t buy the connection, although fans have started Facebook campaigns for their favorite players not to get votes.
"People do believe there’s a curse with Sports Illustrated covers or ‘Madden’ covers," Stevenson said. "As an NFL player, you cannot believe in that. If you believe in something like that, then you concede when you step on the field, and something bad happens it’s not in your control.
"If you believe in a curse, you’re probably in trouble. You’re asking to get hurt. Athletes want to believe their well-being and their success or failure is 100 percent in their hands."
In fact, Stevenson sees the opposite of a curse when it comes to the “Madden” video-game franchise.
"All of our past cover athletes get together every year, and it’s almost like the ‘72 Dolphins," Stevenson said. "They get together, and it’s literally a fraternity."
This year’s pledge period is a tournament bracket.
Stevenson called Thursday to explain why a few of the more interesting nominees were chosen.
The Bears aren’t volunteering to provide financial transparency to the NFL Players Association. But team president Ted Phillips said the Bears have nothing to hide if the NFL believes opening the books is necessary to gain a collective-bargaining agreement.
“If the league feels, to get a deal done, they need to release [financials], we’re on board,” Phillips said. “I’m actually proud of how we operate our club. We think we do a good job, revenue-wise and expense- wise.”
The NFLPA has insisted on 10 years of detailed financial information for all 32 teams because owners have asked for players to give back $1 billion.
The books of the Green Bay Packers, the league’s only publicly owned team, are available, but the NFLPA has made clear that’s not enough.
Given the success of the NFL, teams are reluctant to reveal their spending, opening themselves up to criticism from players, fans or even government agencies.
Some have suggested family-owned teams, with members on the payroll, could have something to hide. But Phillips said the Bears don’t have any issues. Six of the nine members of the board of directors are McCaskeys.
“Whatever the league feels is right is good [with us],” Phillips said.
The compensatory draft choices in the 2011 NFL Draft
The 32 compensatory draft choices in the 2011 NFL Draft (April 28-30) awarded to teams that suffered a net loss of certain quality unrestricted free agents last year. The compensatory choices will supplement the 221 choices in the regular seven rounds of the draft, with picks positioned within the third through the seventh rounds based on the value of the free agent lost. Choices listed by round with overall selection in parentheses:
“He needs help. He needs help. I told the Cowboys from Day One that he needs help. Matter of fact, they have a team in place to help him. But you cannot tell a grown man what to do.”—ESPN- Hall of Famer Deion Sanders on Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Businessman Ken Lanci sued the NFL, the Cleveland Browns and the league’s 31 other teams on Thursday, aiming to save the upcoming football season.
Lanci says in the suit that the lockout violates his private seat license contract with the Browns and jeopardizes his right to watch a full season of home games.
He filed the suit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, asking the court to prohibit the lockout that threatens to cancel the 2011-12 NFL season.
The 60-year-old Gates Mills resident said he is hoping to make a difference with this suit.
"What tipped the scale for me is the labor issue between millionaires and billionaires and the fact they can’t settle it when the country is in a recession," he said. "Worse yet, they have to rub this in our faces."
Lanci, a self-made millionaire, ran as an independent for Cuyahoga County executive last year in a mostly self-financed campaigned. He lost. But he became known, partly for his thick white hair that contrasted with the orange glow he gained from his personal tanning bed.
Lanci owns PSLs for 10 seats in Club Section C3, which he bought in October 1997. People pay an upfront fee for a PSL that gives them the right to purchase a season ticket for a specific seat in a stadium.
That bombshell comes from NFL vice president and general counsel Adolpho Birch, who also oversees the NFL’s drug testing program. “We want it,” Birch told FOXSports.com’s Alex Marvez on Thursday. “We think it’s necessary. We’re going to ensure that it’s done.
"That’s something very important to us and the integrity of our game. We believe some of the basis for going slowly on it before has been addressed. At this point, it’s proper for it to be an active part of our program."
The NFL wanting HGH testing isn’t exactly new — in January of last year, the league requested that testing for the performance-enhancing drug be implemented. But DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA declined.
"The NFLPA along with the NFL has supported research to find a suitable test that will detect sustained HGH use," the then-union said in a February 2010 statement. "We have and will continue to work with the NFL to build a system that is fair, reliable and maintains the integrity of our game and the health and safety of our players."
ARCO ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — “Show me the money” — the famous line from the movie “Jerry Maguire” — has taken on a whole new meaning in the NFL’s labor impasse.
For the players, it’s morphed into “Show me how much I need for bills my team used to pay.”
Since the owners implemented a lockout last Saturday, players are responsible for signing up for and funding their own health benefits, or COBRA policies. The average monthly fee for a family policy is $2,400, the players’ association says.
According to the NFL, the average player salary rose about 35 percent — from $1.4 million in 2005, the last year of the old deal, to $1.9 million in 2009. The league didn’t have comparable figures for 2010 because there was no salary cap in place.
Players are paid each of the 17 weeks of the regular season and get limited stipends during training camp and the preseason. So no paychecks would be arriving this time of year. But with no collective bargaining agreement, any roster or signing bonuses due players are not being paid. They also must pay for their own workouts and for insurance against injury during those sessions because team facilities are off-limits.
"The biggest concern right now is that we have some young players who don’t have insurance and who have to pay COBRA and who may not have the ability to pay COBRA over a long term," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said Thursday at the organization’s annual meetings. "Is it a ton of players? No. But is it concern enough for us? Absolutely.
"As far as preparing for the lockout, players don’t get paid between this time of year and August, anyway. So they should already be in that mode, because that’s what the offseason has always been for them. As far as what happens when the regular season kicks in and there’s a lockout then? Then guys are going to start missing checks. But our players have known for the last two years that they’ve been asked to start saving money, cut down on the lifestyle and be ready for the worst-case scenario. And we believe that the majority of our players are."
Still, plenty of money questions from vets and younger players alike are being fielded by members of the NFLPA’s board of directors — called player reps before the union dissolved last week.
"Just last week I was at a clinic in Hawaii and a veteran was asking me not only how health care works, but how does the money play into it," Steelers tackle Max Starks said. "We have to go through all scenarios with how this can play out, and we do.
"We’ve told guys a year out that this (lockout) could happen and to be smart and to cover your expenses. A lot of them might understand, but their families don’t. Their wives or parents or fiancees don’t. They have people asking to loan them money, people who may be counting on them, and they haven’t said no. They need to have the ability to say no."
If owners are counting on players to break rank because money is tight, the first sign of that likely would come in late summer.
The minimum salary was $320,000 for rookies in 2010; $395,000 for one year of experience; up to $630,000 for four to six years; $755,000 for seven to nine seasons; and $855,000 for 10 and above. The average career is about 3.5 years.
"We’re going to keep united long term," said Jets fullback Tony Richardson, a 16-year veteran and longtime member of the NFLPA executive committee. "Our leadership has been giving information and our guys have to know to prepare to get their bills paid.
"If one of our guys needs help, I’ll reach out and help him and make sure we hear his needs. The guys who bury themselves in a corner and say, ‘I’ve got to come out (and break ranks),’ those are the guys we’ve got to reach."
Richardson wasn’t around for the 1987 strike when dozens of players, including stars like Joe Montana and Lawrence Taylor, crossed picket lines after the owners staged games with non-union replacement players. But he understands the pressures his peers will face if they haven’t socked away enough money.
"We’re not at a place at all yet where guys say they financially are in bad situations," he said. "We have a lockout fund. We planned for this years ago."
Dave Duerson's Autopsy leaves more Questions then Answers
By Cris Benson The Fantasy Football Informer
The details of Dave Duerson’s suicide left us with chilling news but the actual autopsy report just leaves more questions regarding Duerson’s mental health. Duerson was expressing frustration with not being able to spell words with family members. And on the day he died he placed two framed certificates, medals, and a folded American flag at the head of the bed before shooting himself in the chest. Duerson requested that his brain be preserved and examined for trauma. Here is the full report.
Several Dallas Cowboys players have mentioned getting together with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryanto get a jump-start on his system. That apparently is a violation of NFL rules and put the Cowboys among of a group of five teams that have been fined by commissioner Roger Goodell for having contact with players during a “dead” period.
Miami, Cleveland and San Francisco are also believed to have violated the rule, which is not related to the lockout. Teams can have only limited contact with players until March 15, when off-season programs can begin. Like the Cowboys, each of those clubs has a new head coach or new coordinators.
The NFL released this statement:
"There have been rules in place for years that govern what is permissible prior to the start of the off-season program. … Before the offseason program begins, players are permitted to use the Club’s facilities on a voluntary basis subject to the following rules:
(i) such players may not receive per diem payments or workout bonuses of any kind and may not be paid or reimbursed expenses for travel, board or lodging during this period;
(ii) such players are not permitted to participate in organized workouts, practices or meetings of any kind;
(iii) the Club’s strength and conditioning coaches may not direct such players’ individual workouts, but may supervise use of the weight room to prevent injury, correct misuse of equipment, etc.;
(iv) such players may not be directed or supervised by position coaches during this period.”
EA released the first teaser trailer for Madden NFL 12. And when I say teaser, I mean, it’s really just a tease. The very brief view shows 10 somewhat hard-to-interpret scenes. Each scene hints at something new for Madden NFL 12, but what are these 10 additions? I’m here to play detective.
Check out the Madden NFL 12 trailer. Then look at the screenshot below, which points to each of the 10 Madden NFL 12 hints.
1 - Online This may hint at lobbies for online franchises. The current online game hasn’t started in the trailer, but there’s a conversation happening while real-time scores of other online games are displayed on screen.
2 - Player Tendencies Does LT choose to make contact or go out of bounds? What’s his reaction when the ball’s in the air? How does he respond to different types of defenders? Looks like this and much more will be factored in to help make players feel even more authentic this season.
3 - Madden Ultimate Team The new Madden Ultimate Team cards include Walter Payton. Interesting fact: Payton is the only Hall of Famer released for Madden Ultimate Team so far. Does this suggest more Hall of Famers will make appearances in Madden Ultimate Team 12?
Goodell says NFL's last CBA offer might not stay on bargaining table
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Owners haven’t talked about using replacement players if the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987 stretches on, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday, and the league might not keep its last contract offer on the table if bargaining doesn’t resume soon.
"We have not had any discussions or consideration of replacement players," Goodell said at a news conference closing the annual owners meetings. "It hasn’t been discussed, it hasn’t been considered, and it’s not in our plans."
He also said the Miami Dolphins and four other teams have been fined or been told the NFL is investigating them for violating offseason rules prohibiting contact with players. Goodell was asked specifically about the Dolphins; he did not reveal other teams involved.
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said the violations aren’t related to the league’s lockout of players, which began March 12, hours after negotiations with the players broke off, and the union dissolved. Even during normal offseasons, from the end of one season until around March 15, NFL rules bar teams from holding organized workouts, practice or meetings, and don’t allow position coaches to supervise players.
NEW ORLEANS — Opposing players haven’t had much luck slowing return ace Devin Hester, but opposing team owners did so Tuesday when they passed a rule that will make it more difficult to return kickoffs.
The Bears steadfastly opposed the proposal to move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 and voted against it to no avail.
Kickers will find it much easier to reach the end zone and force the returner to settle for a touchback as opposed to risking a big return. It is anticipated the touchback rate could more than double to near 40 percent.
Coach Lovie Smith acknowledged the new rule would make it more difficult for the Bears. "We’ll still be able to get returns in," he said before the rule was passed Tuesday. "We’ll find ways to deal with it."
The NFL Competition Committee met Monday in New Orleans to propose a host of rules changes, one of which is a plan to move kickoffs up to the 35-yard line from the 30. The theory is that the shorter distance will lead to more touchbacks, which will cut down on the violent impacts that lead to injuries for special-teams players.
Hester, 28, is a key weapon in Chicago’s attack, using his speed and elusiveness to create game-changing plays. Hester has an NFL-record 14 kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns since entering the league in 2006.
"I see the NFL is trying to take the kickoff game out," Hester tweeted Sunday. “They already punt out of bounds. What’s next?”
Coach Lovie Smith also expressed his displeasure during Tuesday morning’s coaches breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings in New Orleans, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"I can’t believe we’re even talking about that," Smith said. "It’s the most exciting play in the game. We’re totally against the rule. We don’t even get into the conversation. How do we get to this point?"
The coach is particularly against the part of the proposal that would move the kickoff up to the 35-yard line.
“It was very humbling and at the same time, a bit overwhelming. You really didn’t know what to expect," Vick said. "Hopefully I can be an example to somebody. The thing that I was trying to get across is that we all can be instruments of change. That’s something that I’ve been proactive about since I stepped out of prison and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”—Eagles quarterback Michael Vick returned to prison Saturday, this time to deliver a
message of hope and encouragement to a group of more than 700 inmates at the Avon Park Correctional Institute in Tampa, Fla.
A survey of National Football League fans conducted by BIGresearch for Forbes suggests team owners have little support in the current labor dispute with the players union.
Of the 1,533 surveyed who describe themselves as “a big fan of the
NFL” 45.9% say they are on the players side and only 19.5% on the owners side. Perhaps most disturbing for those who are hoping for a quick resolution and a new collective bargaining agreement, was that 34.6% of respondents said they “didn’t care” or “didn’t know” when asked if they side with the owners of players. If one out of three of the NFL’s staunchest fans are indifferent, there is not going to be much pressure on either side for a quick deal.
ESPN radio “Mike and Mike Show” Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick and Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis discuss the labor situation and the next Madden video game. Plus, Vick talks about how his recent visit to a prison went.
The Fantasy Football Informer has his picks in and I think I will have a great bracket! No I did not pick Morehead St, a matter a fact my entire NCAA bracket is a wash. So why am I so excited about my bracket? Because the bracket I am speaking of is my Madden12 Cover Vote on ESPN Sports Nation.
Pick you first round selection of NFL players like Michael Vick, Julius Peppers, and of course Aaron Rogers and much more to be on the next NFL Cover for Madden12. The first round of votes are available to select this week March 28th to April 3rd and then the winners will be announced for the next rounds selection for the following week.
The Informer had an opportunity to interview the very busy Rob Semsey of EA Sports today and talk about the Madden12 bracket cover vote.
RS: The Madden NFL community has always played an integral role in shaping the future of the franchise and we wanted to build on last year’s cover vote to provide even more opportunities for fans to voice their opinions. This time, From March 21 – April 27, fans can log on to www.ESPN.com/MaddenVote to vote daily for their favorite cover athlete candidate. Every Monday throughout the campaign, fans can tune in to ESPN’s “SportsNation” at 4pm Eastern for the latest voting results and see who will advance to the next round.
Candidates from each NFL team were selected and seeded based on a variety of criteria including: on-the-field performance during the 2010 NFL season, visibility within their franchise and community, and their personal career journey. Each and every candidate has proven they have a right to be featured on the cover of Madden NFL 12 and it’s up to the fans to decide which player they want to be the next face of the franchise.
It will make for some very interesting discussion amongst fans and we hope everyone has a lot of fun with it.
FFI: Will the Madden12 cover player be able to participate in the games promotion regardless of the NFL Lockout?
RS: NFL players will be featured in Madden NFL 12, as always. The players are extremely passionate when it comes to the Madden NFL franchise, particularly player ratings and who is featured on the cover. It will be fun to see how each of the players campaign for the Madden NFL 12 cover during the upcoming weeks. Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis spent time on a number of ESPN shows (Mike & Mike, First Take, The Herd, etc.) today, discussing the campaign. They’re all in.
FFI: Did Tim Tebow bribe you guys to be added to the bracket?
RS: No, but we did have a “voice” speak to us. Sounded a bit like George Burns, which was odd.
FFI: When will we see the first release of Madden12 Animation?
RS: We’ll be releasing a teaser video on the official Madden NFL 12 website tomorrow (3/22) at 10am Eastern. It will be interesting to see the reaction as this is just a taste of things to come. Our first in-depth details on the game will start to hit in late April, around the 2011 NFL Draft.
FFI: The theme for Madden12 is ”Everything You See On Sunday” so with that theme for Madden12 can we expect some creative surprises to Madden12 in the next couple of weeks?
RS: Actually, “Everything You See on Sunday” was a theme for Madden NFL 11, but it’s an ongoing mantra for the dev team as they always striving to make the game more representative of an NFL broadcast. Again, you’ll see some items in the teaser video that will showcase a few of the focal points – from presentation, to gameplay, to online.
So there you have it head over to ESPN Sports Nation to cast your Madden12 cover vote today!
Before we return to the “he said/she said” phase of the NFL labor dispute, I thought I would focus on what is actually in front of us as the reality of the NFL right now. Thus, here is a primer on Brady v. NFL, a case whose eventual settlement will be the basis for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in the NFL.
Why are the Players (Brady, etc.) able to sue?
Since the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has decertified and relinquished their role as the collective bargaining representative of NFL Players, NFL players are now a non-unionized workforce. As such, they can now argue that certain conduct of the NFL that is blessed in labor law — through the presence of a union and collectively bargained agreements — is now illegal under antitrust law. Players claim that the 32 individual franchises conspire by implementing these rules. Since the bargaining relationship with the NFLPA has ended, the NFL is no longer immune to antitrust scrutiny, and players are now able to bring lawsuits against the NFL.
Who are the plaintiffs?
Besides Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, the named plaintiffs are: Vincent Jackson, Ben Leber, Logan Mankins, Brian Robison, Osi Umenyiora, Mike Vrabel, and Von Miller.Beyond that, this is a class action lawsuit, meaning the aforementioned players are representing essentially all NFL players as well as those eligible to become NFL players. The named plaintiffs also represent different categories of players such as recently signed (Brady), restricted by the events of the past year (Jackson, Mankins), having one year remaining on their contract (Brees), playing under a franchise tag(Manning), a free agent (Leber) and an incoming rookie (Miller).
What do the Players want?
The Players are requesting:
An injunction to stop the NFL lockout and force teams to open their facilities to players and transact business;
Restraints on their earning ability (lockout, draft, salary cap, franchise/transition tag) declared illegal;
Players currently under contract to be immediately paid;
Treble (triple) damages for all players due to these restraints, as well as costs and attorneys fees.
A declaration that the NFL has waived its right to assert any “sham” defense – meaning that the NFL cannot contest the NFLPA’s decertification as illegitimate.
What do the Players really want?
A better CBA than they were offered in bargaining. Players think they can procure better terms through litigation than the NFL offered at the bargaining table, as was the case in 1993 in the Reggie White v. NFLclass-action lawsuit.
Do the Players have a good claim? What is their likelihood of success?
If this case ever gets to court – which I think it will not — the Players will have good arguments but may have trouble countering the NFL’s“competitive balance” justification. All the restraints – salary cap, player draft, franchise tags – serve to even the field, leading to a higher-quality product, increasing fan interest, and driving up the NFL’s profitability (of which the Players share a portion). Also, in American Needle v. NFLthe U.S. Supreme Court hinted that competitive balance provides a proper justification in antitrust litigation.
Will Judge Nelson have responsibility over this case?
Yes. However, Judge Nelson is far from the end of the line. Regardless of the outcome, either party may appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where a randomly selected panel of three judges would then hear the case. The determination of the Eighth Circuit is then appealable to the U.S. Supreme Court.?
What is the NLRB and how are they involved?
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has both an investigatory department and an adjudicatory department made up of 40 Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) that hear and decide cases. On February 14th the NFL filed an unfair labor practice claim with the NLRB alleging that the NFLPA had engaged in “surface bargaining” and failed to deal in good faith.
The NFL is arguing that the NFLPA’s decertification is not legitimate and that they had long planned to dissolve and file an antitrust suit, pointing to the NFLPA’s autumn decertification tour to all 32 teams as evidence. The Players argue that the NFL’s claim of a “sham” decertification is waived by language in the Settlement and Stipulation Agreement (SSA) from the prior CBA.
This is where it gets complicated. Both the CBA and SSA provisions state that the waiver of the “sham” defense is only “after the expiration” of the CBA. Since the NFL filed the claim three weeks prior to the expiration of the CBA, it seems as though the waiver may not apply. Nevertheless, reasonable minds may differ, and this language is subject to disputed interpretations by the NFL and the Players.
If the NLRB agrees with the NFL’s position, an NLRB ALJ will hear the matter. The losing party may appeal this decision to the NLRB’s Board – five members appointed by the President. The NLRB Board’s order is appealable to a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose judgment may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What is the key to the April 6th Preliminary Injunction hearing?
The Players will have to show “immediate and irreparable harm”from the lockout, arguing that every opportunity to be at the team’s facility is necessary to their short careers in football.
If the Players successfully prove the harm, the lockout will be lifted while the antitrust litigation proceeds. The NFL would then most likely impose 2010 rules for its business (no salary cap, six years to unrestricted free agency, 30% rule, franchise and transition tags, etc).
And is the television “lockout insurance” case still ongoing?
Yes. Judge David Doty will determine the appropriate remedies to be issued to the NFLPA. With their ongoing themes of transparency, the NFLPA has asked to publicly release all of the documents involved in this case. In response, the NFL argues that these documents are confidential and should be kept sealed, although they have provided redacted (edited) versions.
Is there a timeline for this mess to get sorted out?
Litigation can be and often is a painfully prolonged process. This lawsuit’s precursor, White v. NFL, took years before a settlement was reached. A ruling on the Players’ motion for preliminary injunction will come soon after April 6. If the preliminary injunction is granted, it is likely that NFL operations will resume just in time for the NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, both sides will continue the rhetoric and spin that have characterized this relationship, save for a few days of mediator-imposed silence a couple of weeks ago.
Again, welcome to the brave new world of Courtroom football!