Posted on: April 28, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 1:03 pm

NFL to reopen on Friday

Posted by Andy Benoit

After some scrambling following Judge Susan's Nelson refusal to lift the lockout, the NFL has gotten much of its business in store. In short, on Friday, the league will notify teams of when the 2011 League Year begins. This will let teams know when they can sign free agents and make trades. 

In the meantime, players are free to return to work at 8 a.m. EST Friday morning. Workouts will resume, coaches can meet with players and distribute playbooks, OTA's can be scheduled, etc.

Here's the statement the league sent out: 

The NFL clubs have been notified that we have requested from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals a stay of the preliminary injunction issued late Monday afternoon by the Federal District Court. Pending further guidance from the Eighth Circuit, we believe it is appropriate for clubs to take additional steps in response to the preliminary injunction. The clubs were informed of the steps below that will be effective on Friday at 8 am ET following tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft. Clubs are free to contact players immediately to advise them of the hours that the facility will be open for their use, to schedule medical and rehabilitation activity, and to arrange meetings with coaches or related activity, such as film study or classroom work.

1.Players will be permitted to use club facilities for physical examinations, rehabilitation and medical treatment, as scheduled by the club.

2.Clubs will be permitted to distribute playbooks, game film and other similar materials to players.

3.Coaches may meet with players for the purpose of discussing any materials distributed to players under item 2 above, as well as the club’s off-season workout program, its schedule of mini-camps, Organized Team Activities (“OTAs”), and other similar matters.

4.Voluntary off-season workout programs, including OTAs and classroom instruction, may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXV of the 2006 CBA and Appendix L.  Participating players will be paid $130 per day, provided the player fulfills the club’s reasonable off-season workout requirements.  Such workouts will count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player’s contract.

5.On days during which no official off-season workouts or OTAs are scheduled under item 4 above, nothing shall prevent the club from permitting any player to use the club facility to work out on his own on a voluntary, unpaid basis during normal business hours, or such other hours as may be set by the club, provided: (i) there is no participation or supervision by any coach, trainer or other club personnel; and (ii) the club has first verified that the player has an existing medical insurance policy in place.  Players without such personal coverage should not be permitted to work out at the club facility on an unsupervised basis under this item 5, but may do so under item 4 above.  Unsupervised workouts will not count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player’s contract.  This item 5 will apply both prior to and after the commencement of the club’s official off-season workout program.

6.Mandatory and voluntary mini-camps may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXVI of the 2006 CBA.

7.The league office will promptly make arrangements to resume counseling, rehabilitation and treatment activities in connection with the substances of abuse and steroid programs.  We will advise clubs as to when and on what basis testing will commence.

8.Players may participate in club-sponsored charitable and community relations events.

With respect to player transactions (such as signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc.), we plan to distribute to all clubs, likely tomorrow, a comprehensive set of procedures governing such transactions. This will include the timing for the commencement of the 2011 League Year, free agent signings and other customary player transactions.

It's possible the NFL believes that the appeals court will rule on the lockout stay before Friday morning (which, if the ruling is favorable to the league, would make everything above moot). But it's also possible (very possible, in fact) that the appeal will be denied, meaning football really will resume Friday.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 28, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:30 am

Some teams 'not refusing' to talk to free agents

Posted by Will Brinson and Mike Freeman

On Thursday morning, the NFL said it would continue with the status quo , despite Judge Nelson ruling against their request for a stay. Unsurprisingly, the players disagree with their stance, and Jim Quinn and Jeffrey Kessler, attorneys for the players, sent out an email to all players and agents declaring they believe the league year to be open.

CBSSports.com has obtained a copy of that email correspondence, in which the NFLPA also states they believe the NFL will be in contempt of court if they don't open the league year immediately.

"Unless and until such a request is granted, however, we believe the 2011 League Year now has to begin. The NFL and the Clubs cannot collectively continue to refuse to deal with players. It is our view that the NFL &the Clubs will be in contempt of court if they do not comply with the order unless and until they hear differently from the 8th Circuit."

• Thurs. 7 p.m. ET: NFL DRAFT Live coverage

Now, this doesn't change a whole lot, really, because the NFL is probably just going to ignore the NFLPA's request to begin the year.

They're also probably just going to ignore any calls from agents and players,

However, sources tell CBSSports.com that "some team phones are ringing off the hook" with agents flooding teams with requests for free agent business. Additionally, those sources said that some teams are "not refusing" to talk about free agency at the moment.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 8:14 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:31 am

NFL: Clubs to 'continue to follow current rules'

Posted by Will Brinson

When one of the weirdest days in NFL history dawned Thursday morning, it seemed like the NFL might have to begin the league year. But the league told its clubs to keep on keeping on with the current -- read: lockout -- set of rules until otherwise notified.

It was presumed that the NFL might cave and open up in order to avoid any potential contempt of court or collusion charges from the players, but they're going to roll with the status quo for now.

"Clubs were notified last night they should continue to follow the current rules and practices until otherwise advised by our office," Aiello said, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network .

This puts the NFL in a curious position. Their plan is to wait for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on Judge Nelson's lockout lifting, which might work out fine for them ... if the Court of Appeals agrees with the NFL. (Many people, myself included, believe they will.)

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If the Eighth Circuit doesn't agree with the NFL, then they will face some potentially disastrous charges -- collusion, contempt of court? -- in relation to the Brady v. NFL antitrust case.

In the meantime, however, it probably means that you will not see any free agent signings. And you will not see any trades of players on draft day. And you will not see any signings of unrestricted free agents.

Unless some owner decides to go rogue anyway .

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 6:06 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:49 am

NFL says original order has 'sufficient guidance'

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL filed two pretty major documents on Wednesday afternoon. The first was their Reply to the players' request for a $1 billion bond . The second was their letter in response to the players' request for clarification on Judge Nelson's ruling to lift the lockout.

Essentially, the players wanted Judge Nelson to state more deliberately that the NFL, based on her ruling, is required to start the league year. The NFL argued in their letter that Judge Nelson's ruling already contains "sufficient guidance."

In other words, they don't believe it requires additional clarification. The league also attached the players' Proposed Order (for clarification) which, if signed, would lift the lockout for a full year. The league's attorneys argued, however, that the Order would also eliminate the Draft -- like, the one tomorrow -- as well as free agency and franchise tags.

• Thurs. 7 p.m. ET: NFL DRAFT Live coverage

To sum all of it up, there's nothing too incredibly shocking about all of this; the NFL wasn't ever going to make a legal mistake of responding in a manner that abandoned their current stance on how they perceive Judge Nelson's ruling.

And it's possible, perhaps even likely, that Nelson will simply rule to leave her current ruling as it is, and avoid any attempts at clarification. If that's the case, then this is a non-issue. If she rules for the players, though, things could get kind of hairy kind of quickly.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:14 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 5:54 pm

NFL files reply, wants stay with no bond

Posted by Will Brinson

On Wednesday morning, the plaintiffs in Brady v. NFL requested a $1 billion bond in the event that Judge Nelson ruled in favor of the NFL on the issue of a stay. Judge Nelson gave the NFL until 4:00 PM CST to reply, and the league has, in a filed document obtained by CBSSports.com, stated that they do not believe any bond is necessary to secure the stay that they requested.

Additionally, the league repeated their request to have Judge Nelson suspend the current injunction, conditioned on the NFL immediately filing an appeal with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The NFL cites two primary reasons for why a bond is not necessary. One, that the Court of Appeals will handle the case in an expedited manner; CBSSports.com spoke with the Clerk of Court at the Eighth Circuit, and was told that "typically" they do expedite these matters. However, it is not a guarantee.
Latest on Lockout

Secondly, the NFL cited a previous case involving Western Union, in which a bond was not required because the "ability to pay the judgment is so plain that the cost of the bond would be a waste of money."

In other words, the NFL has so much money -- clearly more than $1 billion -- it's not necessary for them to pay what the 10 percent (or whatever) a bond would cost in order to secure such a bond.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 27, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: April 27, 2011 1:51 pm

Players ask for $1B bond if Nelson grants stay

Posted by Will Brinson

The plaintiffs in Brady v. NFL have filed their response (CBSSports.com has obtained a copy) to the NFL's request for a stay from Judge Nelson, and it's pretty spicy. They're asking for -- if Judge Nelson grants the stay the NFL requests -- a $1 billion bond.

Yes, that's "billion" with a "b."

The thinking on that large sum of money, based on the players' response, is thus: it's one-quarter of what the players' received in compensation during the 2010 season, and it's the baseline guesstimate for what sort of "irreparable damages" would be done if the stay was granted and lasted through the time it will take for the league to appeal.

What makes their request pretty interesting, is whether or not the NFL would pay $1 billion to the players (likely in some sort of trust account, I presume) in order to get the stay they want.

Part and parcel of the NFL's legal request for a stay involves the fact that they currently must either a) impose old rules or b) allow chaos to reign. The problem with (a) is that, according to the league, they risk violating anti-trust laws (they do). The problem with (b) is "unrestricted free agency."
Latest on Lockout

The players' attorneys point out in their response that any "alleged predicament is of their own making" and that it's entirely possible for the NFL to "implement a new player system that does not violate antitrust laws."

Based on the various responses to Judge Nelson's original ruling, and her tendency thus far to lean, legally, towards the players, it seems unlikely that she will grant the NFL a stay. That's not because she "favors the players," but as the plaintiffs' response points out, if she rules in favor of the NFL's stay, she's essentially leaning against her own ruling that she issued on Monday when lifting the lockout.

Such a backtrack within a week doesn't seem like Nelson's style.

UPDATE 1:51 p.m. EST: Judy Batista of the New York Times reports that the NFL has written a letter to Judge Nelson asking for an opportunity to respond in writing to players' request for NFL to post $1 billion bond if stay issued.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 1:05 pm

Players request Judge Nelson orders start to year

Posted by Will Brinson

The chaos that erupted after Judge Susan Nelson ruled to lift the lockout on Monday somehow managed to escalate Tuesday, when Judge Nelson declined to rule immediately on a Motion to Stay filed by the owners, and some players began showing up at team facilities.

Things got ratcheted up a bit more on Tuesday, when the attorneys for the players filed a letter to Judge Nelson and a corresponding Order asking for clarification on her ruling yesterday.

CBSSports.com has obtained a copy of the letter, which is written from Barbara Berens to Judge Nelson, copies all counsel of record, and asks her to clarify the language relating to Federal Civil Rule 6(d)(1)(c), which states that the "Contents and scope of every injunction and restraining order ... [shall] ... describe in reasonable detail — and not by referring to the complaint or other document — the act or acts restrained or required."

Or, in layman's terms: "Now that the lockout's lifted, how do the two sides specifically proceed about their business?"

As we noted, she ruled that "the 'lockout' is enjoined" -- now the players' want Judge Nelson to clarify that by such a statement, she did in fact mean for the "league year" to begin.
Latest on Lockout

The NFL, per their statement, is currently waiting on the "dust to settle," and/or Judge Nelson to rule on their request for a stay. However, per the NFLPA's request and the Order they're filing along with the letter, the NFL, et al, has until 5:00 PM CST to respond to the request for clarification.

Which means chaos will likely run its course until Wednesday afternoon. Depending on how Judge Nelson rules on those issues, things could get even more bizarre in the hours before the NFL Draft kicks off Thursday.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 10:58 am

Judge Nelson not ruling on stay issue immediately

Posted by Will Brinson

Following Judge Susan Nelson's ruling that lifted the lockout on Monday afternoon, the NFL announced that they would seek a stay from Nelson's court in order to prevent the necessity of a "league year" beginning immediately.

However, it appears as if Judge Nelson will not be ruling on the stay immediately; in fact, she's given the players until 9:00 AM CST on Wednesday morning to respond to the league's request for a stay.

This is somewhat surprising, as it seemed that Judge Nelson would quickly return a refusal to the league for their stay, and they would immediately appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Her decision, to be frank, seems to have caught everyone off guard, including the players. Though no one thinks Nelson isn't taking this matter seriously, the manner in which her ruling on Monday was worded gave a strong indication -- without actually tipping her hand, of course -- that she would not grant the NFL's stay. Which is why it seemed that such a ruling would be handled in a perfunctory manner on Tuesday.

Now it appears that the Court of Appeals will need until at least next week in order to get around to answering even the most expedited of appeals from the league.
Latest on Lockout

Which means that it's likely we get through the draft without any sort of trading and/or free agency movement. That's the stance the NFL is taking at least.

"We are going to proceed in an orderly way that is fair to the teams and players and complies with court orders," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Players are being treated with courtesy and respect at club facilities. We do not believe it is appropriate for football activities to take place until there are further rulings from the court.

"Under last set of proposals made to NFLPA, teams wouldn't even be into offseason programs yet. We need a few days to sort this out, as NFLPA attorney Jim Quinn indicated [Monday night]."

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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