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Tag:Judge Susan Nelson
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 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: April 28, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:34 am
 

NFLPA lawyers' memo to players and agents

Posted by Andy Benoit

The NFLPA believes that the lockout is over. Thus, they’re proceeding in such a manner. Below is a copy of a memo that lawyers Jim Quinn and Jeffrey Kessler sent to all players and agents. It is posted on NFLlockout.com (a site operated by the NFLPA) and could just be propaganda, but hey, propaganda has provided 90 percent of the lockout news these past few months, no?

TO:        NFL PLAYERS AND AGENTS

FROM:      JAMES QUINN & JEFFREY KESSLER (CLASS COUNSEL)

CC:        DEMAURICE SMITH, NFLPA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, NFLPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

RE:        ORDER DENYING STAY

Last night, Judge Nelson issued a 20 page decision denying the NFL’s request to stay (delay) the injunction she issued on Monday in the Brady v. NFL litigation that the NFL must stop the lockout.  The decision denying the stay is once again very strong, and rejected all of the NFL’s arguments.  Accordingly, the order ending the lockout is in full, immediate force.

The NFL has filed for an emergency stay with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, while the Eighth Circuit considers the NFL’s stay request. Unless and until such a request is granted, however, we believe the 2011 League Year now has to begin; the Clubs must open their facilities to allow players to work out, meet with coaches and otherwise perform their jobs; and the NFL and the Clubs cannot collectively continue to refuse to deal with players.  It is our view that the NFL and the Clubs will be in contempt of court if they do not comply with the order unless and until they hear differently from the Eighth Circuit.  We will let you know later today what the NFL is going to do to comply with this order, and what the specific schedule will be going forward.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 10:46 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:26 am
 

Some teams still keeping doors locked Thursday

Posted by Andy Benoit

Judge Susan Nelson has made it as clear as she possibly can: the lockout is over. NFL owners don’t seem to agree. It’s one thing to delay the enactment of transactions (signing free agents, making trades, etc.); it’s another to continue keeping the doors locked.

That, however, was the case in some NFL cities Thursday morning. According to the Washington Post , Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, defensive end Vonnie Holliday and center Casey Rabach showed up at the team’s facility Thursday, only to be turned away.
“The doors are still closed and as I understand it, they will remain closed until the appeals process is completed,” Holliday said. “The courts made a ruling, and you would think that would carry more weight. Guys wanted to get back to work, resume getting physical therapy at the facility and train with our strength coaches, but the doors are still locked. It’s unfortunate that they’re choosing to handle it this way.”

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Pro Football Talk reports that the same thing happened in Arizona and Miami. Players on those teams who showed up to workout were told that the league is waiting out the Eighth Circuit Court’s decision.

Given Nelson’s orders Wednesday night, keeping players out borders on owners being in contempt of the court. It would be somewhat surprising if all 32 teams choose to keep their facilities locked on Thursday, as that could spark legitimate accusations of collusion (and anger the courts). Having some teams welcome players and other teams turn them away only adds to the chaos, which, at this point, plays to the owners’ argument that they can’t possibly do business without knowing how the Eight Circuit will rule.

UPDATE 11:21 a.m. EST: A fourth team has been reported as keeping their doors locked. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean tweets that the Titans turned away quarterback Rusty Smith on Thursday.

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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.

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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 4:24 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:53 am
 

Could an NFL owner break rank mid-draft?

Posted by Will Brinson

Could an NFL owner break rank during or just before the NFL Draft and decide that it's time to make a trade or sign a free agent? That's a legitimate question, because I'm not positive I -- or anyone -- know the answer. But I'm fairly certain it could happen.

Of course, first, a few things have to go down. One, Judge Susan Nelson has to rule -- between now and the beginning of the Draft on Thursday -- in favor of the players on the stay issue as well as clarification of her original ruling . If she does, and it's not a stretch to think that she will, the league may be forced to open its doors immediately and begin the league year.

Pandemonium unlike we've known it could erupt. Or, alternately, teams could take their sweet time making moves to sign players. The latter seems like the most likely situation, because the NFL will still be pushing to get their appeal into the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Also, making a case for collusion, based on the fact that teams didn't sign any free agents amid the hectic few days of the NFL Draft could be a stretch.

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Although you could argue teams should be pursuing all of their options during that time, particularly if they want to shore up their respective rosters. And this, to me, is where things get interesting, should the league "begin the season" some time on Thursday.

Because there are some teams more in need in of making certain moves than others. The Eagles obviously would like to end up moving Kevin Kolb; our own Clark Judge recently pointed out just how coveted Philly's backup remains around the league.

And the Redskins, for example, would probably like to receive some sort of value for Donovan McNabb -- or Albert Haynesworth! -- before they're forced to cut him rather than paying him a roster bonus before he's due, when football actually starts. And they just so happen to need draft picks, thanks to the very trade they made last Easter to bring McNabb in.

And let's not put it past Dan Snyder to "go rogue" either; this is a man currently embroiled in a ridiculous lawsuit with a small-time Washington, D.C., newspaper because he didn't like the way he was portrayed publicly. He'll need someone to play along, should the rank-breaking be a trade and not a free-agent signing, of course. While it seems unlikely Jerry Richardson will bail on his role as lead negotiator to pick up a quarterback, there's nothing to say that another owner running one of the many quarterback-desperate teams wouldn't.

Of course, it seems like the owners are unified. Whereas reports about players splintering into factions have made their way into the public, we've not yet heard anything too concrete about owners arguing amongst themselves. But did you see the utter disorganization that went down on Tuesday when players attempted to make their way into team facilities?

Some teams, like the Giants, let players work out on Tuesday. (But not on Wednesday !) Other teams, like the Seahawks, said no. Jerry Jones stepped up to the mic and provided a not-too-crafted statement about why Cowboys players couldn't come in.

That's the very definition of "factions" -- if the NFL owners were all on a singular page, a concrete policy would have been in place across the league.

Which brings us back to the day of the Draft. Perhaps the NFL is forced to open its doors to players and "get back to work." And perhaps, hypothetically, owners are advised that it's better to wait and see how the appeal process shakes out before making personnel moves.

Do you think, though, that the Eagles front office can resist the possibility of landing a top-10 pick for tomorrow night in this quarterback-desperate landscape that exists? And do you think that anyone can predict what Snyder will do in relation to his payroll and roster decisions when he desperately needs draft picks?

Certainly not. And what would the repercussions be if an NFL owner started wheeling and dealing? The league could fine that team or take away draft picks ... except that would amount to admitting collusion.

In fact, aside from Roger Goodell giving someone a dirty look the next time they were in the same room, the only thing that might happen is the rest of the league following suit and opening up the floodgates for other signings and draft-day trades of players.

And if and/or once that happens, it might be kind hard to bring back the lockout.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

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