Tag:Court of Appeals
Posted on: June 3, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 5:40 pm

DirecTV: No Sunday Ticket cost til after lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE: Turns out that the customer service person we spoke with was wrong -- DirecTV will NOT be charging you until the lockout is resolved.

"In years past, we typically do start billing in July, but this year, due to the uncertainty around the NFL labor dispute, there will be absolutely no charge for your NFL SUNDAY TICKET subscription until it is confirmed that the 2011 NFL season will begin," Charles Miller, Director of Digital Care at DirecTV, told CBSSports.com. "What you and other customers will see on your July bill is a balance of $0.00 for the NFL SUNDAY TICKET portion and this will remain at $0 until the NFL dispute is resolved."

So, NFL fans have that going for them -- don't bother cancelling your subscription just yet.

DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" package has become a staple for the hardcore NFL fan over the past few years. Whether it's the Red Zone channel or just an excuse to buy six more televisions, there's always a great reason to shell out $53.99 in six monthly installments to watch piles of football.

This year? Yeah, not as much, since the we're less than 100 days away from the NFL's season beginning and the lockout is still firmly in place.

Here's DirecTV's latest statement on the issue, posted on their website:
We at DIRECTV love football. That's why for over 15 years, DIRECTV has been the exclusive home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET™, the only way to watch your favorite teams no matter where you live. And DIRECTV will continue to be the exclusive home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET™. Like all football fans, we are hoping for a positive resolution to the current NFL labor negotiations. And when the NFL is ready to play, we will be ready to bring you every game every Sunday.

If the NFL negotiations result in a shortened or canceled season, rest assured that DIRECTV has you covered. Your subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ is risk-free: You will not pay for any game that the NFL does not play.*

Please return to this page for the latest updates and news concerning your NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ subscription.
Now, this SOUNDS pretty "risk-free," right? There's just one problem: DirecTV starts billing for Sunday Ticket in July. And, come July, the NFL will still have a concrete start date: September 8, 2011. The schedule won't change until the labor situation actually impedes on the season. And, sure enough, a quick call to DirecTV customer service confirmed this.

"We are going to start to charge for the NFL Sunday Ticket by … probably July 3 but there is no specific date," a DirecTV customer service representative told CBSSports.com. "But it will be in July."

See, that means if you had Sunday Ticket last year, per DirecTV's policy, you will have Sunday Ticket in 2011, unless you cancel. Making this infinitely more difficult is the fact that you can't cancel online. And because you're renewed, you will be charged beginning in about a month.

This is made even more confusing because on your June bill, you'll see a zero dollar charge for your Sunday Ticket automatic renewal.

That might seem to indicate you'll get it for free until the NFL season starts, but it doesn't.  Because the reality is you'll be charged for Sunday Ticket from now until the season is actually cancelled and/or moved.

It's nice of DirecTV to love the NFL and to [claim to] care about fans, but it would be a whole lot nicer if they waited until the labor dispute is actually resolved before charging the people who foot the bill for this entire football operation.

And, yeah, suddenly it's a lot harder to feel sorry for DirecTV getting strong-armed by the NFL in television negotiations.

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 1:12 pm

Court: NFL decision to come in 'due course'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday the NFL and the NFLPA argued in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals over the legality of a lockout in football. And by noon CST, court had adjourned and the 8th Circuit had let the NFL know that a ruling would come in "due course," but that both sides were free to settle their dispute.
NFL Labor

"We wouldn't be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case," Judge Kermit Bye said, with a smile, to each side's respective attorneys.

Bye was the dissenting judge in the when the 8th Circuit twice ruled 2-1 in favor of keeping the lockout in place, first temporarily and then in a more permanent fashion.

The questions from the panel of judges, as we noted earlier, seemed to focus on the issue of whether or not the NFLPA had "actually" decertified. The NFL contends that the union's decision to decertify is simply predicated on the goal of gaining legal leverage.

Bye also added that the ruling could be one "that neither side will like."

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: June 3, 2011 12:21 pm

Lockout hearing focuses on state of the union

Posted by Will Brinson

A couple weeks ago, we mentioned that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision following the lockout hearing would directly relate to whether or not the judges on the court's panel believed the union "actually" decertified or not.

That suspicion was confirmed within the first few minutes of the oral arguments from each side, as the NFL and the players were grilled on whether or not the NFLPA's decertification was a ploy to generate legal leverage.

Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the judges asked the players attorneys -- specifically Ted Olson -- about "tactical disclaimers" in decertification. The clear-cut indication is that the court, known as pro-business, is concerned about exactly what we believed they were concerned with: unions disbanding simply in order to generate leverage.

In fact Judge Benton apparently got "aggressive from the bench" and proceeded to read part of the LaGuardia-Norris Act to Olson and the players' attorneys.

"Doesn't that make the district court completely wrong?" Benton asked, per Breer.
NFL Labor

According to Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post, the two judges who sided with the owners previously asked "many questions" to the players' side. Judge Bye, who was the dissenting judge in the stay rulings each time, didn't say a word early on.

Of course, the players' argument doesn't really center around their decertification -- they believe what they did is legal and very much real. In fact, their focus was on the antitrust issues facing the players now that they have decertified.

"[The] League deperately wants these players to continue to be in union so it can continue to violate antitrust laws," Olson said, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

And that's the crux of the players' argument. The only problem is, it might not matter at all if the Court of Appeals doesn't believe the union decertified.

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 1:33 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 3:37 pm

2011 NFL Lockout Timeline

Posted by Eye on Football Staff

Because you need reminding, there's a lockout going on. Just kidding -- we did think it'd be helpful to break down the full lockout timeline.

July 25, 2011: And then ... there was football. The NFLPA voted unanimously to approve the deal. Now the issues of recertification, settlement approval and some collectively bargained issues will take place. But football's back.

July 22, 2011: NFLPA releases a statement that "leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement, deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification."

July 21, 2011: NFL owners vote to approve the proposed CBA, outlining key terms and including a tentative schedule for the 2011 season. Players decline to vote to ratify the proposal, prolonging the lockout, which is now 128 days old.

July 8, 2011: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a surprise ruling -- in terms of timing, not the decision -- that the lockout is legal. It was a surprise because the owners and players were in the midst of such positive negotiations and both sides seemed to make progress up until the ruling came out.

June 3, 2011: The NFLPA and NFL argued against and for, respectively, the lockout in front of the Court of Appeals, and the three-judge panel said a decision would come in "due course." Judge Kermit Bye, though, said he wouldn't be hurt if the two sides negotiated a new deal, especially since the court's ultimate decision could be one neither side likes. Also, in a somewhat strange twist, NFL lawyer Paul Clement charged the players with acting like a union while negotiating with the owners. Strange, because the NFL is actually the one who encouraged the union to negotiate with the owners.

June 2, 2011: Judge Boylan cancels the previously scheduled June 7-8 mediation session in Minneapolis because "the Court has been engaged in confidential settlement discussions." Also, reports confirm that a series of meetings took place that week, between NFLPA representatives, Goodell, and a small group of owners.

May 24, 2011: A league source tells CBSSports.com that the NFL will cancel the Rookie Symposium. Not that this news should surprise anybody.

May 17, 2011: The two sides returned to mediation, but by 2:15 p.m., the talks Whad ended. Mediation will not resume until June 7.

May 16, 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a permanent stay on the injunction ruling by Nelson. The lockout is back on, and the majority opinion questions the validity of Nelson’s ruling. Suddenly, the owners have big-time leverage.

May 16, 2011: Per court orders, mediation resumes. Neither side publicly expresses any interest in getting a deal done.

April 29, 2011: The lockout is reinstated during the middle of Day 2 of the draft after two of the three judges in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals grant the owners’ request for a temporary stay.

April 27, 2011: Owners request that Nelson issue a stay on her ruling while they begin working on their appeal to the conservative Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. That request, surprisingly, is denied. The lockout is lifted.

April 25, 2011: Nelson rules in favor of players in Brady v NFL, temporarily lifting the lockout.

April 20, 2011: Citing scheduling issues on Boylan’s end, bargaining is put on hold until May 16.

April 14, 2011: Bargaining begins in front of Boylan after two days of preliminary meetings.

April 11, 2011: Nelson mandates court-ordered negotiations between players and owners to begin in front of Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.

April 6, 2011: Judge Susan Nelson begins hearing arguments in Brady v NFL.

March 12, 2011: The lockout officially begins. The players file a lawsuit with Eighth Circuit Court in Minnesota (Brady v NFL) seeking an injunction for the lockout to be lifted.

March 11, 2011: After rejecting the owners’ final proposal, the NFLPA decertifies.

March 4, 2011: CBA deadline is extended by one week, an unprecedented move in NFL history.

March 3, 2011: With owners and players having bargained in front of Cohen for 16 days, CBA is set to expire, but the deadline is pushed back 24 hours.

March 1, 2011: U.S. District Judge David Doty rules that owners won’t have access to $4 billion in television revenue in the event of a lockout. This compromises a significant amount of the owners’ leverage.

February 17, 2011: With talks moving slowly, both sides agree to bring in federal mediator George Cohen.

February 15, 2011: Goodell writes an op-ed that appears in newspapers nationwide saying an agreement is needed.

January 31, 2011: Smith and Goodell agree to a series of meetings over the course of "a few weeks."

December 4, 2010: After months of public posturing from Goodell and owners and Smith and key players from the union, Smith writes a letter to the NFLPA saying the “deadline has now passed.” It’s an informal deadline but aggressive public posturing by Smith.

March 5, 2010: The 2010 League Year begins with no salary cap.

February 2010: At Super Bowl XLIV, Smith is asked about the chances of the NFL being shut down before the 2011 season. He says, on a scale of 1-10, it’s a “14”.

February, 2010: With the CBA stipulating that the salary cap be abolished in the final year of the deal (an idea initially meant to motivate both sides to extend the deal sooner than later), the NFLPA proposes to extend the salary cap system for another year. The owners reject.

March 16, 2009: DeMaurice Smith is elected as new executive director of NFLPA. Smith’s campaign platform centered on him being an outsider who, unlike Upshaw, did not have warm relationships with the league and owners.

August 21, 2008: NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw dies unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer.

May 20, 2008: In a unanimous vote, owners exercise their opt-out clause. CBA is now set to expire March 3, 2011.

September 1, 2006: Roger Goodell replaces Paul Tagliabue as NFL commissioner.

March 8, 2006: With CBA expiring, commissioner Paul Tagliabue passionately implores the owners to extend the agreement through the 2012 season. Every owner except Mike Brown of Cincinnati and Ralph Wilson of Buffalo votes to do so. But a stipulation in the CBA extension is that owners can opt out in ’08 and cut the CBA’s length by two years.

2003: CBA extended until 2006.

March 23, 1998: Owners vote to extend CBA until 2003.

June 29, 1993: Players and owners approve Collective Bargaining Agreement for first time since 1987 strike. CBA is set to last until 2000. This brings about the creation of free agency and the salary cap.
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.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com