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.”