Posted on: May 24, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:58 am

NFL cancels Rookie Symposium amid lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL lockout hasn't been fun but at least it had not caused the cancellation of anything on the league's calendar -- until now. The NFL has cancelled it's rookie symposium in Canton, Ohio, a league source told CBSSports.com.

The symposium, which was originally scheduled to begin June 26, will likely be "officially" cancelled on Tuesday. Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reported several months that the symposium was in danger as a result of the lockout.

The symposium is designed to bring all the NFL rookies together to try and teach them about life in the NFL, how to better manage their finances, and give tips on general transition to life as a professional athlete.

Our source says NFLPA officials and current active players spoke to rookies at the NFL PLAYERS’ Rookie Premiere about business aspects of the game. We're told that a portion of the meeting touched on some of the issues normally discussed at the Rookie Symposium.
NFL Labor

The timing of the decision in pretty indicative of where we stand on the lockout. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments from both the NFL and the players regarding the injunction of the lockout on June 3. It is not believed the Court of Appeals will rule on that hearing until at least July.

The cancellation of the symposium makes it pretty clear that the expected timing of the court's decision is accurate.

It also means expecting any sort of settlement and/or conclusion of the labor situation before July might just be a fool's errand.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 5:00 pm

Mediation recesses Tuesday ... until June 7

Posted by Will Brinson

Mediation between the NFL and NFLPA resumed Tuesday, under the awkward cloud of the NFL's recent win at the Court of Appeals. But it didn't last long. DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell and U.S. Judge Magistrate Arthur Boylan left for lunch in the early afternoon (and returned quickly -- take that for what it's worth), and shortly thereafter, at about 2:15 pm EST, mediation adjourned for the day.

NFL Labor

Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the two sides were not returning for a Wednesday session. However, don't let that fool you into thinking negotiations are totally dead. 

NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told Breer that the two sides would return for further mediation on June 7, after the June 3 Court of Appeals hearing.

"We owe it our game, we owe it to our fans we owe it to ourselves, the league and players, to sit down and talk," Pash said, per Breer.

Neither side discussed any specifics, though Hall of Famer Carl Eller said he believes this week's session included progress. Eller represents retired players.

As mentioned earlier, much of the remaining available leverage hinges on Judge David Doty's ruling on the TV lockout fund.

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: 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 29, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 7:09 pm

Court gives NFL stay, the lockout is back on

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- In the middle of the second round of the NFL Draft, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals announced they'd granted the NFL's motion for a stay. Yes, that means the lockout is back on.

Interestingly, however, the Order -- a copy of which CBSSports.com has obtained -- announcing the return of the lockout also contains a dissenting judge; one of the judges did not believe that the the clubs' situations are ones that "truly qualify as emergencies."
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Additionally, the judge refuted the claim of the NFL that their operations are a "complex process that requires time to coordinate." That claim, the judge wrote in the Order, "is severely undermined by the fact that the NFL had, within a day of the district court's order ... already planned post-injunction operations."

This dissenting judge is especially notable because, while the lockout may be "on" once again, the NFL didn't get the clean sweep from the Appellate Court that many folks believed they would.

It appears, as of this writing, that the fans present at the Draft haven't received word about the return of the lockout -- the booing hasn't reached the vitriolic proportions of the first round.

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

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

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

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