Tag:DeMaurice Smith
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:50 am

Why the players won't simply cave just quite yet

Posted by Will Brinson

As the second day of court-ordered mediation is underway in Minnesota, it's presumed that the NFLPA will throw up their collective -- but un-unionized! -- hands, and take the best reasonable deal the owners will offer.

I don't see that happening just quite yet.

My colleagues Mike Freeman and Clark Judge both made excellent cases for why the leverage-less players should get to work on making a settlement happen.

And they weren't the only ones writing doom-and-gloom scenarios for the players. There was good reason for these opinions -- the language from the 8th Circuit regarding irreparable harm is a brutal blow to the players.

But just because the 8th Circuit favored the owners in this instance, it's not guaranteed that the 8th Circuit will favor the owners in the future.

This is critical, as DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA are still sitting on a pretty big, $4 billion bullet that is the TV lockout fund case.
NFL Labor

Judge David Doty will rule on that some time in the near future; the status is currently "under advisement," so there's no set timeline for the District Court Senior Judge to rule.

Presumably, he's going to hammer the owners, who he believe heavily violated their partners' trust by negotiating in a subversive manner with the networks. And, presumably, the NFL is going file an appeal with the 8th Circuit ... again.

But here's the interesting thing: the 8th Circuit, while notoriously "pro-business," isn't beholden to the NFL in this matter.

In fact, the crux of their ruling on Monday is the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which centers around whether or not a labor dispute -- i.e. a dispute arising between an employer and a union -- can be resolved by the federal courts.

What's important to remember here is that, while the Court of Appeals is concerned with fixing the game of football, they're probably a touch more concerned with not setting a precedent for any union in America to decertify (even temporarily) going forward, with the express intent of creating legal leverage.

However, the presumed appeal they'll see on Judge Doty's TV ruling doesn't involve the Norris-LaGuardia Act. At all. It's just a standard appeal.

Which makes it a lot more likely that the players can score a "win" (insomuch as these exist these days) on appeal. The players know, and the owners certainly know this.

It's why you're hearing reports that the owners are pushing for some sort of settlement while they have the most leverage firmly in hand.

And the players, I imagine, will certainly listen to any sort of settlement offer that comes their way. Just don't bank on them caving quite yet.

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Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:16 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 11:21 pm

DeMaurice Smith, Pash respond to court ruling

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Obviously, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is disappointed with today’s Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that issued a permanent stay of the lockout injunction. But that didn’t stop him from getting off a pretty nice zinger.

"As far as we can tell, this is the first sports league in history that's sued to not play its game,” Smith told NFL.com. “Congratulations.”

NFL lawyer Jeff Pash was a little more understated.

"You don't resolve things through litigation," he told NFL.com. "We've been clear on that. And what we need to be doing is focusing all our attention on the process that's going on here in this building, with the assistance of the chief judge and in serious discussions with the players.

"We have an opportunity to resolve this matter and get the game back on the field, and that really should be our exclusive focus -- not litigation, not stays or injunctions, things like that. That's not going to solve anything. I'm glad that it came out the way that it did. But it's just one step in a process and we need to focus on negotiation. That's the only way we're going to resolve this."

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Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 3:02 pm

De Smith: Players 'resent being lied to'

Posted by Will Brinson

There's no shortage of vitriol coming from the NFL and the NFLPA during the current lockout. That's what happens whenever two sides are embroiled in a bitter legal battle that centers around the public's interests.

But DeMaurice Smith's comments to WFAN's Boomer and Carton on Friday morning add a whole new level of spiciness to the public chatter going on.

“The players understand the fight that they’re in,” said Smith. “Right now they don’t want to lay down and be forced to take a deal. They don’t believe that it’s fair.

"I can tell you that they resent being lied to. They resent being tricked. They resent the fact that the league has been found now twice to have violated the law. So those are the people that we’re inextricably tied to.”
NFL Labor

Yeah, that's pretty aggressive, but Smith, if you believe that the NFL purposely attempted to save up a "lockout fund" vis-a-vis television negotiations, has a point.

It's also important to note that the players -- again, if you believe what Smith says -- are as unified as they've been in the history of labor negotiations.

And that's unbelievably important when it comes to the future of football. After all, if players started caving left and right once game checks go missing, they don't stand a prayer of "winning" the labor battle. If they truly are unified to the point that they refuse to give in to the owners until they get what they deem a fair deal, we may not be seeing the end of the labor situation for some time.

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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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