Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:20 pm

'Not a chance' NFL shuts down if lockout lifted?

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been some mention that the NFL, if it lost it's appeal on the lockout ruling, could completely shut down for business. Roger Goodell, the only real person who can answer that question, didn't deny the possibility recently.

Speaking with Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk Live!, Goodell might have even forwarded the possibility of such a shutdown.

"The only thing I’m going to say in regards to any of these rumors — there’s all kinds of reports — is that we're considering a variety of different alternatives based on the court decisions," Goodell said. "We’ll have to do that, and we’re prepared to do that, and we’re going through that process."

Of course, shutting down the NFL would go against everything Goodell and the league have pushed towards fans (caring about them, feeling confident about having a season, etc).

Which is probably why it makes sense to listen to Chris Mortensen of ESPN's report on Thursday morning that such a shutdown is not likely happening.

“As prominent NFL man says, please ignore concept being floated that NFL could shut down business if lockout lifted,” Mortensen tweeted. “Not a chance, he says.”

If correct, that's great news for everyone involved, including the NFL.

That's because trying to sell a complete shutdown of football would be an absolute public relations nightmare. Can you imagine trying to take the stance of "Well, if a lockout won't work, we're just taking our toys and going home!" and spin it in a positive fashion? It'd be impossible.

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Posted on: May 12, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 2:21 pm

No ruling on TV damages yet, players want $707M

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (1:00 PM): According to attorney Tom Heiden, the players are seeking $707 million in damages ... as a starting point. That doesn't include treble damages or their maximum request.

Additionally, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Judge Doty began the hearing none too happy about actually having the hearing, as he expected a settlement by now.

"To be honest, I didn't think we'd have this hearing," Doty said."And I'm a bit disappointed we're having it."
Thursday was supposed to bring some sort of resolution regarding the current state of the NFL, as Judge David Doty was set to hear arguments from both the players and owners sides on the "TV money case" and then rule on what sort, if any, of damages to award the players.

Lest you forget, Doty recently ruled that the NFL couldn't keep the money from TV contracts negotiated in a manner that would have gotten them paid during a locked-out season.
NFL Labor

Alas, Doty, after hearing the arguments, will simply take them "under advisement" for now, meaning no ruling on the TV damages will come Thursday.

It's believed that Doty will rule some time next week -- it's also believed that Doty will rule in favor of the players, as is his modus operandi.

That doesn't make it guaranteed that he'll favor the players, and getting a ruling by next week isn't guaranteed either.

In fact, the only guarantee might be that, once Doty rules, the NFL will appeal to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, where the fate of the lockout currently resides. 

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:31 pm

'NFLPR' files odd Motion in NFL lockout appeal

Posted by Will Brinson

Perhaps the most bizarre thing to come out of the lockout yet happened on Tuesday afternoon, when an "organization" named the National Football League Players' Reserve (NFLPR) filed a Motion to Intervene in the NFL's appeal with the 8th Circuit.

This is odd because no one really seems to know what the NFLPR is, although it's described in the filing as a "separate single entity nominative fair use organization whose reference and interests pertain to collegiate rookie football players entering the ranks" of the NFL.

This is strange because, insofar as anyone can tell, there are no collegiate rookie football players associated with this organization that no one knows about.

It's even more strange because, if you try to find out about the organization, the only things you'll really run into are a suggestion to Google "NFL PR" (like NFL public relations), NFL "Power Rankings" links and a link to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy's Twitter page (@NFLPRGuy).

Things get even weirder, though, as this motion was filed by David R. Flood, President, National Football League Players' Reserve (as well as a US Army veteran apparently). Flood, who is representing the NFLPR pro se in this matter, could not be reached for comment.

There are some odd things in the case, but for the moment they probably don't matter too much, as most reports circulating indicate that this motion is frivolous at best and will likely be either a) ignored or b) dismissed. The only reason it warrants mentioning? Because it somehow became the weirdest thing to happen in this already weird NFL labor dispute.

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Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:06 pm

No lockout ruling coming Monday

Posted by Will Brinson

Here's what we know about the timing for a ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on the current temporary stay that put the lockout back in place: it might or might not happen.

Actually, we also know it ain't happening Monday, either. That's because, according to Clerk of Court Michael Gans -- via Judy Battista of the New York Times -- the judges involved in the panel that could decide the fate of the NFL are traveling today.

So that means we get to wait (again!) and try to guess whether or not the Court of Appeals will side with the NFL or the players.

The best guess, I think, is to expect the court to stick with the NFL on the issue of any stay leadinup to the June 3 appeal date.

Logically speaking, it makes little sense to cut things wide open around the league before the ruling. If that happened and the court turned over Judge Susan Richard Nelson's ruling, then the league would be forced to re-lockout the players just a few short weeks/months after having the original lockout removed.

NFL Labor

That would be a public relations nightmare, for sure, but it would also create a really bizarre set of circumstances. Would you want your team to sign Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year, multi-million dollar deal when you don't even know when he'll get his 2011 playbook, much les if he'll even play this season? I sure wouldn't.

Then there's the whole matter of figuring out exactly what set of rules the league will operate by -- anything too restrictive, and they risk running afoul of antitrust issues, and there's a serious loss of negotiating leverage if they make their rules too lax.

Which is why it's entirely possible that we're starting to hear the rumors of new free-agency rules and even the old, shut-the-NFL-down when we lose number.

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Posted on: May 4, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 10:53 pm

8th Circuit Court could not rule on lockout stay

Posted by Will Brinson

Many an NFL scribe spent much of Wednesday waiting to find out if the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis would rule -- one way or the other -- on the NFL's request for a permanent stay of Judge Susan Richard Nelson's lockout injunction.

Currently, a temporary stay is keeping the lockout in place. However, Clerk of Court Michael Gans said on Wednesday that the court might not rule at all.
NFL Labor

"I don't have any indication whether there is going to be any further ruling on the motion for a stay," clerk of the court Michael Gans said Wednesday, per Gary Mihoces of USA Today.

Gans referred to the matter as "still pending" and said the court "court may rule and the court may not [rule]" with regard to the permanent stay.

A "non-ruling" would be pretty shocking, and, frankly, even though Gans said that, I can't imagine that the Court will simply choose to leave the temporary stay in place until June, July, or whenever the 8th Circuit finally rules on the June 3rd hearing that's currently scheduled.

Waiting until after the ruling would have the players' side pretty riled up, I'd think. If the court plans on ruling to remove the stay, it seems kind of like that might be something they'd be interested in. And if the court plans on ruling in favor of a permanent stay ... why not rule?

That being said, the court can do what it wants in this case, and if it thinks that a ruling either way could result in utter chaos that's detrimental to the legal business at hand, then it's not necessarily required.

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 6:11 pm

8th Circuit grants NFL expedited appeal

Posted by Will Brinson

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the NFL's request for an expedited appeal, and will hear arguments from the two sides on Friday, June 3, 2011 at 10 a.m. CDT. No, this does not mean the lockout is lifted or -- ahem -- locked in.
NFL Labor

It simply means that the Court of Appeals is willing to handle this appeal in a "typically" (as Clerk of Court Gans has previously told us) speedy fashion. The ruling on the temporary stay will likely come before this Friday, when the Court of Appeals will decide whether or not players will remain locked out between then and the date of the ruling on the June 3 hearing.

The league wants the court of appeals to overturn Judge Susan Richard Nelson's ruling in Minnesota District Court. The players, obviously, want the opposite.

There are some other scheduling notes along with the Judge's Order for the expedited appeal: Friday May 9 is the deadline for the NFL's Opening Brief to be filed; Friday, May 20 is the deadline for the players' Response Brief; and Thursday, May 26 is the deadline for the NFL's Reply Brief.

The Judges hearing the case -- Bye, Colloton, and Benton -- will then hear 30 minutes of oral arguments from each side on June 3 and rule some time (shortly, one would presume, though the complexity of the case could delay that as much as several months) thereafter.

Absolutely worth noting is that Judge Bye was the dissenting judge in the ruling that put the lockout back in place. The Court of Appeals will rule soon on the issue of a permanent stay.

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Posted on: May 2, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 2:55 pm

NFL files appeal to keep lockout, players respond

Posted by Will Brinson

With the NFL Draft now over, it's back to the exciting labor chatter: on Monday, the NFL filed a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing for the lockout to remain permanently in place until the two sides sort out their differences.

In the middle of the Draft on Friday, we reported that the lockout was back on, thanks to a temporary stay granted by the Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The NFL's brief on Monday wants to keep the lockout going until the two sides can sort out their differences.

The two primary points of the NFL's brief are jurisdiction and the damages that would result in not having a lockout in place.

The NFL cited the Norris-LaGuardia Act in arguing that a federal court "may not interfere -- on either side -- in cases involving or growing out of a labor dispute." In other words, they don't want Nelson affecting the way the labor negotiations play out.

The NFL believes that the lockout would not, as Nelson ruled, cause the "the players no material, and certainly no irreparable harm."

The NFL also stated that, thanks to an expedited appeal, the issues between the two parties "could readily be resolved during the offseason."
NFL Labor

"The absence of a stay would irreparably harm the NFL by undercutting its labor law rights and irreversibly scrambling the eggs of player-club transactions," the NFL attorneys wrote. "Absent a stay, there will be trades, player signings, players cut under existing contracts, and a host of other changes in employment relationships" between hundreds of players and the 32 NFL teams.

The players responded with their own letter to the Court of Appeals on Monday afternoon, written "to correct a misstatement by the NFL Defendants in their reply brief."

The players' attorneys cite both "sworn declarations from their agents, who have more than 165 years of collective experience negotiating NFL players' contracts and have first-hand knowledge of the market for NFL players" and "multiple declarations from Richard A. Berthelsen -- an attorney for the NFLPA for almost 40 years who has witnessed previous occasions when the NFL Defendants operated without a collective bargaining agreement and suffered no harm."

In other words, the issue at hand in deciding whether or not the lockout stays or goes is who's being harmed the most right now.

The players argued that they are harmed irreparably in the immediate sense and Nelson agreed with them, lifting the lockout.

The NFL said that's an exaggerated claim. Players, the league said, would not lose their opportunity to play for the team of their choice once the league year begins, even if that's in late June or early July instead of early May. That process usually starts in early March.

The NFL complained that Nelson ignored evidence that many players, including two of the 10 plaintiffs, Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins, skip team-organized workouts in the offseason. Jackson and Mankins both held out well into the start of the 2010 season, the league noted, "indicating that missing time in the offseason is not irreparable harm."

The NFL also cited comments by players Ray Lewis and Wes Walker about their appreciation of extra free time now with the lockout in place and no mandatory minicamps or other offseason activities allowed to take place.

Welker said, "Let's do a lockout every year," according to the league's court filing.

Those comments don't help the players' case of course, but it may not matter -- the Court of Appeals must find that Nelson (essentially) abused her judicial power if they overturn her ruling.

It's not simply enough to disagree with her decision or to find the players' comments about the lockout pithy enough to make them worth flipping a legal ruling.

Certainly the Court of Appeals could find that the NFL is more at risk for immediate irreparable harm, though, and that could result in the lockout remaining until a final ruling is made.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 1, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 4:25 pm

NFL still forcing the 18-game season issue

Posted by Andy Benoit
R. Goodell (US Presswire)
Despite the NFL currently being busy fighting tooth and nail in the ongoing labor battle with the NFLPA, the league is still willing to put a spotlight on the idea of having an 18-game regular season. An 18-game season is an idea that most players hate vehemently and most passionate fans hate generally (more on that in a second).

But league spokesman Brian McCarthy tweeted over the weekend, “At fan forum, @nflcommish (Roger Goodell) asks fans, do u want 2 pre and 18 reg season games? 56-4 say yes.”

So 56 out of 60 fans at this private forum told the NFL they wanted a longer regular season. That prompted the website Pro Football Talk – which is super popular with hardcore fans and league insiders – to put up its own poll asking readers if they want an 18-game regular season. As of Sunday afternoon, of the 10,000-plus people who responded, 64 percent said NO.

What’s the difference between PFT’s poll and the league’s poll? In the PFT poll, fans were not casting their votes in a room with the most powerful man in football watching them. And while we don’t know what was said during the NFL’s fan forum, it’s probably a safe bet that fans casted their vote sometime shortly after Goodell preached to them what he feels are the merits of an 18-game season.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com