Darn. I had almost mastered the concept of decertification and they went and did this.
Welcome to the world of grievances, restraining orders, injunctions, appeals and the 8th Circuit.
And you thought the franchise tag was confusing.
The English Major’s Guide to the current labor situation reads like this … the players’ union decertified Friday. The NFL owners began a lockout at midnight (no trades, signings, contact with players etc.). The union has already filed a request for an injunction to block the lockout with U.S. District Court Judge David Doty. If Doty grants the injunction, the NFL will appeal the ruling, but the league year, with free agency and trades, could begin while the court process continues (but it probably wouldn’t begin, like, next week). If Doty rules the lockout is legal, there would be no NFL offseason (or potentially regular season) until both sides reach agreement.
Of course, that’s a simplified outline. There are plenty of potential twists and turns. And I’m guessing there will be more conjecture like we saw Friday (Free agency could begin at midnight! No, May …) because we are in uncharted waters.
No doubt, some of you will take a wake-me-when-it’s-kickoff approach to this mess. But for those of you who have been looking for an excuse to brush up on antitrust litigation, here are a few links that bring a bit of clarity to what likely lies ahead:
• Michael McCann is a sports law professor who breaks down the possible legal morass in 11 steps, ending with potential involvement by a surprise guest, President Obama.
• Here’s a Q&A with Gabe Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane.
Feldman strikes a few optimistic notes: “This can still get done in a week or two. The NFLPA has taken the first big step to try to get the owners to cave in a little bit, and that might work. It might not take the full lawsuit. The owners might say, ‘You know what? It’s not worth the full risk of this antitrust lawsuit. We could be not only turning over our books, but be responsible for three times the damages for any rules we implement.’ That might be enough for them to say, ‘All right, you win. We’ll give in $200 million. We’ll make some more concessions.’”
• Tired of legal language dotted with Latin (Brady et al vs. National Football League et al)? SI’s Don Banks writes in a way we all can understand. Of the arguing between lots of rich people, Banks offers this analysis: “Blah, blah, blah.”