NFL players who sued the league for alleged antitrust violations liken the league to a ”cartel” in their latest court filing, again urging an appeals court to lift the lockout.
In arguments filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, just minutes before Friday’s midnight deadline, attorneys for the players reiterated their argument that the NFL has violated antitrust laws, causing the players irreparable harm. They also argued the lockout is illegal and designed to force players to make immense financial concessions.
”The NFL’s only interest in preserving the lockout is to use its overwhelming bargaining power to force the players to reunionize,” the players’ attorneys wrote. ”By contrast, the lockout is imposing immediate, career-ending threatening harm on players and may deprive the public of the 2011 professional football season.”
The longer the fight over how to divvy up $9 billion in annual revenue drags on, the closer the league and players get to missing games. The first preseason game is Aug. 7, with the regular season opener between the Saints and Packers set for Sept. 8 in Green Bay, Wis. Full story
A nonprofit group that has been fighting sport work stoppages has weighed in on the NFL court battle, saying ending the lockout is in the best interest of consumers.
The Sports Fans Coalition, which says it gives fans a voice on public policy issues and fights for fan access to games, filed a brief Friday in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It supports the players and wants the lockout lifted, noting that fans spend billions of dollars to see their teams perform.
”Whether the owners’ boycott lowers the quality of the 2011 season by preventing fans’ favorite clubs from integrating new talent during this summer, or disrupts or even eliminates the season if the boycott fails to achieve the desired concessions from players, injunctive relief is essential to sports fans,” attorneys for the Sports Fans Coalition wrote.
The players also want to end the lockout, saying it is causing them irreparable harm. A federal judge in Minnesota agreed and lifted it last month, but the league appealed. Full story
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t above seeking a little advice as the lockout approaches its 10th week with no end in sight.
Goodell said Thursday he leans on the Ford family, which owns the Detroit Lions, to draw on their labor relations experience in the automobile industry.
”I speak to them frequently to take their experience and whatever they can offer to help us,” Goodell said on a conference call with Lions season-ticket holders.
William Clay Ford has owned the Lions since 1964. The only surviving grandson of automotive pioneer Henry Ford worked for the family business for 57 years before retiring from its board of directors in 2005. Full story
Giants owner warns of chaos — 4:31 p.m.
New York Giants owner John Mara has written an essay warning that the players’ strategy in the labor impasse, if successful, would lead to chaos in the NFL.
Mara’s comments, posted on the team’s and league’s websites, point to the possibility of no league-wide minimum player salaries, ”with many players making less than they do today,” and no minimum requirements for spending on team salaries, ”with many clubs cutting payrolls the way some teams do in other sports.”
Mara says other key components of the NFL’s competitive balance, such as the draft, would be ”called into question and assailed as antitrust violations.”
He also notes that because a steroid testing program is essential, the league could consider an independent administrator such as the World Anti-Doping Agency to conduct it reliably. — Associated Press
Smith speaks at college commencement — 12:23 p.m.
The executive director of the NFL Players Association says the lockout shouldn’t be boiled down to ”Shut up and play.”
DeMaurice Smith was the guest speaker Thursday at the University of Maryland’s commencement. He told the graduates that the players made the decision two years ago to think in a different direction. The new mindset: ”Do we care enough about who we are and who we want to be?”
He told the students to think the same way, saying they should pursue their goals with passion and reject those who tell them otherwise.
Smith attended classes at Maryland in 1985 and 1986. He also paid tribute to men’s basketball coach Gary Williams, who retired earlier this month. — Associated Press
With no minicamps, offseason workouts or other football activities during the NFL lockout, every member of the Oakland Raiders organization is now part of the ticket staff.
Instead of forcing employees to take pay cuts or unpaid furloughs during the lockout as several teams are doing, the Raiders have implemented a plan that allows people to keep their full salary if they sell a certain number of season tickets.
”Different teams are taking different approaches,” Raiders chief executive officer Amy Trask said Wednesday. ”Certainly some teams are taking one approach: How do we decrease expenses during a work stoppage. We looked at this from the opposite approach. Let’s all work together as an organization, every single department, to increase our ticket revenues.” Full story
NFL, players end mediation without deal — 2:52 p.m.
NFL owners and players have wrapped up another round of court-ordered mediation without any sign of a new agreement.
Officials and attorneys for both sides left the federal courthouse in Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon and said they’d return before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on June 7. That’s days after an appeals court hearing on the legality of the ongoing lockout. Full story
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the emergency stay given last month that kept the lockout in place can remain at least until a final ruling is issued. Such a decision likely won’t come until at least late June after both sides in the Brady v. NFL antitrust lawsuit present their case to the eighth circuit June 3 in St. Louis.
The ruling and legal explanation from two members of the three-judge panel strongly favors the NFL during its labor battle with its players (one judge dissented). Full story
NFL, players resume mediation — 1:49 p.m.
NFL owners and their locked-out players are talking again.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, executive vice president Jeff Pash and four team owners — Mike Brown, John Mara, Jerry Richardson and Art Rooney — arrived at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis on Monday morning along with legal counsel.
The head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, and three other lawyers for the players were present for their side for the closed-door session before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on the division and future of the ever-popular $9 billion business.
None of players listed as plaintiffs in the still-pending federal antitrust lawsuit against the league attended this time. Hall of Famer Carl Eller and attorneys were on hand for retired players. Full story