Appeals court grants NFL owners lockout

In the middle of the 3rd and 4th rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft an announcement was made regarding the latest legal twist in the labor strife between NFL players and the owners. The announcement…a federal appeals court told the NFL it could have a short stay of Judge Susan Nelson’s mandate that earlier forced owners to unlock their facilities for the players.

This ruling is only temporary and the owners might lose again once the judges look at Nelson’s 89-page written decision this week. Nelson had determined that irreparable harm was inevitable if the owners prohibited the players from their trade as the antitrust lawsuit was grinding through the long process.

The owners had pleaded with Nelson to consider their plight while the lawsuit was proceeding apace. In opposition to the players request for the injunction the owners claimed forcing them to do business without a new CBA in place would jeopardize their ability to set workplace rules without subjecting them to more legal action. Any rules set up that ticked off the players might result in them filing lawsuits and causing massive confusion. Judge Nelson rejected these arguments and to the delight of football fans and the players, the lockout was lifted Monday.

On Friday, however, the appeals court granted the owners a temporary stay from complying with the injunction order while they take more time to ponder it. It’s likely we’ll know within days if the injunction is upheld or rejected.

BTW, after Monday’s original ruling, owners were slow to comply by allowing regular operations to resume on Tuesday with some clubs refusing to allow access to players for workouts or rehab treatments. Other teams opened for business but only saw a few players show up. Detroit Lions player rep Kyle Vanden Bosch asked his players to stay away from the facility until this appeals process went through to avoid confusion. That said, after Friday afternoon’s news the NFL was quick to chase players out the door.

Commissioner Goodell was booed loudly when he took the podium to kick off the draft proceedings on Thursday night with fans chanting “We want football”. Goodell replied, “I hear you.”

Hopefully Goodell hears loud and clear because the only way football will be played is if the two sides get back to the bargaining table and come to terms on a new CBA.

Used with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles.

Copyright ©2011 Sports Climax, LLC

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