Tag:2011 lockout
Posted on: April 26, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:59 am
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NFLPA tells agents to negotiate with teams

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The last 36 hours have been pretty crazy in the NFL world, and we still have a ton of confusion whether teams can negotiate with free agents and whether teams can allow players to work out in their facilities.

The only team that actually allowed players to work out was the Giants – most clubs allowed players in the building but that was about it. But it’s still unclear (and the opinions vary wildly depending mostly on whether you’re a plaintiff or a defendant in the Brady v NFL case) if the NFL is truly open for business.

The NFLPA is trying end the speculation, and according to NFL.com has told agents to begin negotiating with teams for their free agents, even though the NFL hasn’t started the clock on the 2011 season.

From the article:
The letter states that "unless or until" U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issues a stay of her ruling to end the NFL-imposed lockout, as the league has asked, the NFLPA believes business should begin now. If a player's contract has expired, the letter states "class counsel believes that you and your agent can start negotiating."

The letter, which provides a primer and a question-and-answer segment about the latest developments in the courts, goes on to state that if a team "refuses" to cooperate in negotiations with a free agent, "you should contact class counsel immediately." The letter also provides appropriate contact information.
During a conference call Tuesday, NFL attorney Jeff Pash was asked what kind of rules would be in place if the court decides not to issue a stay.

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Said Pash: “I think again that depends on what the scope of the injunction is and whether there is a stay. If the players got the injunction they requested last night, that would suggest a different set of rules. If that request is denied or the underlying injunction is stayed pending appeal, then that would dictate a different response. There’s a considerable degree of uncertainty about what exactly the scope of the relief is in light of the filing by the players last night. I think we don’t agree on all that many things, but I think Jim Quinn said it well last night when he said, ‘What we need to do is let the dust settle for a day or two,’ I think those were his words, and see if a stay is put in place.  Then we’ll all know more and be able to go from there.”

That didn’t stop agent agent David Canter from making phone calls. He told CBSSports.com that he contacted seven organizations, and the general consensus was they couldn’t negotiate because "we don't know what rules we are functioning under.”

The league right now is in absolute chaos, and if Nelson doesn’t grant a stay to the owners, things will get very interesting very quickly.

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Posted on: April 6, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Court adjourns; Nelson wants sides to negotiate

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Judge Susan Nelson, presiding over the preliminary injunction hearing in the Brady v NFL case, said this afternoon that she’ll try to have a decision in a couple weeks, but until then, she urged the NFLPA and the owners to return to the bargaining table.

The NFL might seriously consider the advice.

As tweets filtered out from the courthouse in St. Paul, Minn., from the Boston Globe’s Greg A. Bedard, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and NFL.com’s Albert Breer, it seemed clear that Nelson was giving plenty of credence to the players’ argument that the lockout irreparably damages them.
NFL Labor

She also made it quite clear this morning that she believes the federal court has the right to issue the injunction, which the NFL disputes. Nelson also said she wasn't sure how the NFL owners could lock out their players if there wasn't a union.

Nelson also had many more questions for the NFL’s lawyers than she did for the players, though it’s debatable whether that actually means anything (some say that the more a judge questions one side means the side receiving those queries is in trouble).

While the two sides have tried to negotiate with a federal mediator in the past, Nelson advised to continue talking – only this time, in a federal court setting.

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Posted on: April 6, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 1:24 pm
 

What happened this morning in court

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the Brady v NFL permanent injunction hearing on a temporary break, we have a little bit of insight into what has happened today so far.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the NFLPA has asked Judge Susan Nelson to grant the injunction and end the illegal lockout.

“Over 800 players are unsigned,” lawyer James Quinn argued. “These players have no jobs. They have nowhere to go. It's a matter of health and safely issues."

Responding to that was NFL lawyer David Boies: "The court would have to make new law and rewrite history. This should be free from court interference."

The main issues so far seem to be whether the court has jurisdiction to even rule on this matter.

According to the Boston Globe’s Greg A. Bedard, there has been only one mention of irreparable harm, and Nelson said it "appears players have strong case.”

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UPDATED, 1:22 p.m. ET:
According to USA Today, Nelson grew annoyed at the NFL's insistence that the court had no jurisdiction in this matter. She said the court indeed has the authority to rule whether the players will be irreparably harmed by a lockout.

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Posted on: April 6, 2011 8:44 am
 

What could happen after today's hearing

Goodell Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If Judge Susan Nelson, who will hear arguments in a preliminary injunction hearing of the Brady v NFL case, eventually rules in favor of the NFLPA, the lockout would be lifted (temporarily at least) and players could go back to work.

Obviously, that would be ideal for fans.

But Albert Breer of NFL.com argues that a decision like that, assuming it’s held up in the appellate court system, might not be great for the state of the game. He writes, “the momentum the game has built over the last two decades in becoming to America what soccer is to Great Britain, or hockey is to Canada, could be slowed significantly.”

He writes that if Nelson grants the injunction, the NFL could conduct business without a CBA (or, at least, use the same guidelines that were in place for the 2010 season), and considering the NFLPA and the owners still will be embroiled in anti-trust litigation, that will hamper the ability for anybody to fully take advantage of the NFL’s popularity.

"It would be almost impossible to operate under those circumstances," one league executive told Breer. "Teams couldn't make any significant investments for the future. There would be no way to build stadiums, expand into new markets, increase television coverage, bring new technologies into play.

"There would be no way to do any joint marketing with the players. There would be no basis for improvements in retired player benefits. Conflict would be the norm."

D. Smith Of course, you have to remember that the NFL operated for years without a CBA after the players won their anti-trust suit against the NFL in 1987. And it's not like the league collapsed. Could a similar event happen this time?

Writes Breer:

The NFLPA contends that the G-3 fund -- which loaned money to clubs for stadium construction -- and other incentives to build new venues can be reinstituted by owners without player involvement. But the likelihood of that happening in the described conditions isn't good, which would leave the future of the league in places like Minnesota and San Diego on hold, and put those franchises on standby.

On top of that, AEG CEO Tim Leiweke told NFL.com two months ago that his project in downtown Los Angeles was contingent on the "right CBA." So without an agreement to speak of, the future of the NFL in the nation's second-largest market would also likely be delayed, putting the Staples Center project in peril.

Then there's the trickledown to the players. Last offseason, the Patriots, Colts and Saints all cited the uncertain labor future as a major obstacle to extending the contracts of their franchise quarterbacks (Tom Brady got his; Peyton Manning and Drew Brees didn't get theirs). Dozens of lower-profile players found themselves in similar situations, with a similar message from teams. On top of that, hundreds of fourth- and fifth-year players were hit by the change in free-agency rules during the uncapped year. It's likely those rules would carry over.

What is up for debate is how the league's growth in two areas -- sponsorship and advances in technology -- would diminish without a CBA. An NFLPA source put it bluntly in saying, "People invest in profitable businesses, and the NFL is highly profitable." The source also took the idea that spending was down as a result of the looming labor problem to task.


Of course, it’s impossible to know how everything will play out based on the way Nelson and, eventually, the appellate court rule. But the process begins today, and for both sides, it has to be a scary proposition as they step into the unknown of courtroom litigation.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Goodell: HGH testing is coming to NFL

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Commissioner Roger Goodell told the Baltimore Sun today that the NFL is going to insist that HGH testing be part of the next CBA and that it was discussed in labor negotiation meetings with the NFLPA before the lockout ended all talks.

NFL Labor
“The integrity of the NFL is critical,” Goodell said after he spoke to 700 Baltimore-area high school football players about performance-enhancing drugs (and about how drugs are bad, mmkay). “We have to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to have the best drug program in sports. Making changes to our program is critical. We have done that over the years and we have to do more, including the inclusion of HGH testing.”

Goodell wouldn’t say how the players reacted to that – though they’ve been uninterested in HGH testing in the past because that would require a blood test, rather than simply a urine test – but he also said the NFLPA knows the importance of doing it.

“You always have to modify your testing program to stay ahead of the people who are going to cheat the system,” he said. “We would be naïve to think that people aren’t going to cheat the system. But we have to have the best drug testing program to be able to offset it.”

It’s interesting to ponder how much of a wedge issue that might have been between the owners and the players, because we didn’t really hear anything about it before today. It probably landed somewhere between how to split up the $9 billion and how to split up the $9 billion.

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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