NFLPA memo: Free agents can shop their services

The following question-and-answer memo, obtained by The
Associated Press, was distributed by the NFL Players Association on
Tuesday afternoon:

”Follow-up Q&A’s about Brady, et al v. NFL: Judge Nelson
Orders Lockout Lifted

Judge Susan Nelson issued a decision in the Brady lawsuit
declaring the NFL’s lockout to be illegal and ordering the NFL and
its clubs to end the lockout at 6 p.m. EST on April 25, 2011. The
following Q&A’s should answer some of the questions you may
have about what this means for you as a player and where the case
will go from here.

1. Why did Judge Nelson issue this order? When the players in
Brady v. NFL initially filed this action the most immediate goal of
the lawsuit was to have the court stop the lockout that the NFL had
imposed which prevented players from playing football. They filed a
motion with Judge Nelson asking her to order the NFL to enjoin
(stop) the lockout, and she heard arguments on that motion on April
6, 2011. At that time, the players’ attorneys argued that that once
the players decided the NFLPA should give up its status as their
union at the expiration of the last CBA, the antitrust laws apply
to the owners thereafter and prevent them from locking out the
players in an effort to reduce player compensation.

2. What is the effect of this decision?

This decision requires the NFL to end the lockout. This means
that, unless or until Judge Nelson or the 8th Circuit Court of
Appeals issues an order ”staying” (delaying) the injunction, the
owners have to end the lockout immediately, as of the time the
order was issued, which was 6 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 25, 2011.
The NFL filed an order requesting a stay (delay) of the injunction
the evening of April 25, and Judge Nelson will consider the NFL’s
request. The Players response to the NFL’s request is due at 9 a.m.
CDT on April 26, 2011. Unless and until Judge Nelson issues an
order granting the NFL’s request to stay (delay) the injunction,
the lockout remains lifted. We will keep you updated on the Judge’s
ruling on the stay motion.

3. Is the NFL taking any steps to try to delay this order?

Late on April 25, 2011, the NFL filed a motion requesting a stay
(delay) of her order to stop the lockout while the NFL appeals her
decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Nelson
stated the next morning that she will consider the NFL’s request.
The Players response to the NFL’s request is due at 9 a.m. CDT on
April 26, 2011. Unless and until Judge Nelson issues an order
granting the NFL’s request to stay (delay) the injunction, the
lockout remains lifted. We will keep you updated on the Judge’s
ruling on the stay motion. If Judge Nelson does not agree to a stay
(delay) of her order, the owners likely will appeal her refusal to
stay the injunction to the Eighth Circuit and make the same request
for a stay (delay) from the appellate court.

4. I am not under contract and am currently a free agent, does
this mean I can shop my services to teams right now?

Unless and until Judge Nelson or the Court of Appeals issues
another order, the lockout has been ordered to end immediately, and
if the NFL does not comply, it would be in contempt of the court
order. So, until you hear otherwise, if you are not under contract,
Class Counsel believes that you and your agent can contact teams
and shop your services to the clubs. Judge Nelson’s order is in
effect as of 6 p.m. EDT on April 25, 2011, and unless and until
that order is stayed, the clubs are not allowed to refuse to
negotiate with you. If they do refuse, you should contact Class
Counsel immediately (contact information is listed below.) The NFL
must put in place a free agency system that complies with the
antitrust laws.

5. Does this mean teams have to open their doors to players
under contract?

Again, unless and until Judge Nelson or the Court of Appeals
issues an order staying (delaying) the lifting of the lockout,
teams have to reverse the steps they put into place with the
lockout, and open their doors to players under contract. If you are
under contract and you choose to go to the team’s facility, class
counsel believes that the club must allow you access to the
facility and staff or the club will be in violation of Judge
Nelson’s order. Please inform class counsel immediately if you have
any problems from your club with access to the facility and/or
staff. If you are under contract, your NFL club will likely send
you instructions relating to off-season workout programs and any
other rules they may have relating to the off-season.

6. Do I have medical insurance while the lockout is
enjoined?

You do not automatically have medical insurance while the
lockout is enjoined (if you already paid for COBRA, you have
insurance through COBRA). Each team must decide whether to provide
health insurance for their employees. However, all player contracts
state that the club is responsible for medical care for any injury
related to football, and arbitrators have ruled that this
obligation is limited to injuries on club property under club
direction. It is therefore safer for players to work out on club
property.

7. What is the timetable going forward?

You should expect decisions from both Judge Nelson and the Court
of Appeals on whether or not to stay (delay) the order lifting the
lockout within the next week or so. If the order is not stayed or
delayed, then the lockout would be lifted and the players can
return to work immediately. If the stay is granted, then the
lockout will continue until the Court of Appeals rules on the
lockout which will likely take until sometime in the early summer.
We will keep you updated regarding the status of the stay.”