FanDuel - WFBC

April 25, 2011

Judge Tells NFL to End Lockout: Handing the players a significant victory, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson granted an injunction to end the NFL lockout, ruling that "the irreparable harm to the players outweighs any harm an injunction would cause the NFL." The NFL responded, "We also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans."

posted by rcade to football at 08:31 PM - 24 comments

Another harbinger of the decline and fall of the American empire.

And the irony is blinding:

"A lockout deprives those players of opportunities to shop their services that they would have enjoyed in a free market, Nelson said."

posted by Miles1996 at 09:25 PM on April 25

The NFL keeps getting on the wrong side of the law in this. They didn't want court mediation, the court ordered it anyway. They made a shady deal with the tv contracts, and now this ruling. I guess their plan is to drag it out, despite being wrong, and hope the players cave for fear of losing a whole season.

posted by bperk at 09:54 PM on April 25

The NFL keeps getting on the wrong side of the law in this.

Or the NFLPA is allowed to choose which set of laws it is bound to follow and that, so far, has put the NFL at a severe disadvantage.

What does this mean? Citing lost playing time during careers that last only four seasons on average, Judge Nelson rejected the idea that players could be compensated with money.

Or this?

"The minimal, if any, benefit that might be derived from seeking the NLRB's expertise here is clearly outweighed by the delay involved, particularly where the players are incurring ongoing irreparable harm," Nelson said.

The NLRB had jurisdiction until you ruled that you had it, Judge. Glad you could stroke your ego.

posted by tselson at 11:24 PM on April 25

I'm not seeing the irony, Miles.

I wonder if this means the top rookies will all attend the NFL Draft.

posted by rcade at 10:29 AM on April 26

The scumbag players association found their idiot judge to do their dirty work - a stupid woman who obviously knows nothing about reality. Corrupt and mindless, a perfect combination for a judge.

posted by Hitman at 12:54 PM on April 26

That there's no free market for football talent.

posted by yerfatma at 12:54 PM on April 26

I don't get your argument, tselson. What wasn't persuasive about the judge's decision? I thought her analysis of the primary jurisdiction vs. exclusive jurisdiction was good. The NFL wanted the court to just assume that that the NFLPA decertification was invalid until ruled otherwise by the NLRB. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs suffer irreparable harm in the interim. Anyway, the NFL is only making this argument to delay. They don't have a winning argument for the NLRB even. They specifically included in their last settlement a provision that the NFLPA can decertify. Also, the NLRB already addressed the issues the NFL is relying on to call this decertification a sham in a prior NFL case. The judge called it a repeat of the 1990 case. So, endorsing the NFL's argument is just endorsing their stalling tactics.

posted by bperk at 01:16 PM on April 26

a stupid woman who obviously knows nothing about reality. Corrupt and mindless, a perfect combination for a judge.

Please don't do this. We usually look for a bit of fact or supporting evidence to go along with our heart-felt opinions here.

posted by yerfatma at 02:13 PM on April 26

Hitman-I'd love to hear your take on the factual and legal arguments presented by both sides when weighed against the federal standards for temporary injunctions. Because that's what that stupid, corrupt, mindless woman who rose to the federal bench did. She's not allowed to read a couple of sports blogs, listen to a third of the Tony Kornheiser show, then pull an opinion of the way things should be out of her ass.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:40 PM on April 26

When owners get together to build an create a strong league system such as the NFL has, where all teams can be competitive, where small market teams can play effectively against large market teams and there is revenue sharing between all teams and players, where players get benefits, retirement, and ridiculously large contracts etc, I suppose anybody can claim collusion. There is a market for football talent outside of the NFL but nothing comes close to the money of the NFL. I suspect between the greed of the players and owners, there is enough to kill even the best scenario which is basically what we have now.

I always find it funny when an organized league is accused of collusion. Collusion to do what? deprive players of huge money or build a league that offers players more opportunities by creating numerous teams that can all afford to hand out big salaries. All successful leagues are colluding to some extent to try to ensure competitiveness and marketability. The leagues collusion has tended to inflate player salaries, make more teams able to pay bigger salaries and draw fans because of the controls established to prevent teams from using individual wealth to gain unfair competitive advantage.

On the other hand what about a case like the Miami Heat where athletes (the big three) colluded outside of the free agency system depriving teams from fairly bidding for their talents, in order to manipulate a favorable personal situation and give them a competitive advantage? I think history will prove that a league has it's own survival at stake which when successful, undoubtedly will provide more future opportunities for more athletes. On the other hand athletes whose professions and earnings are much more transient tend to be much more about me and have less incentive to see a league with long term viability as they are only around for a few years. Allowing the athletes to dictate how a league has to operate will be detrimental to the fans and the league in the long run IMO.

I understand why the players have an incentive to get as much as they can during the short time they can get it, but as a fan it is clear to me the league has a much greater incentive to create something much longer lasting. The league has been building a successful business for many decades, the players have careers measured in a few years. The fact that there is revenue sharing which to some extent makes the players partners, is remarkable and a testament to the inherent fairness the system has so far created.

So when a player like Adrian Peterson compares playing in the NFL to being a slave, I have to ask myself, who has a better grasp on the long term interests of professional football in the NFL. No matter how I analyze the situation, I always get back to the fact that as a fan, the league has proven responsible and effective in providing the best product possible while treating it's employees probably better than I have seen in any employer employee relationship. The players on the other hand have only demonstrated to me an aptitude for athletics, and putting themselves first and foremost above everything else including the fans. Next time you doubt it, see what happens to your favorite team when another team offers the your best player more money.

When do you find a league that offers players for teams in markets like Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans or Baltimore, the same opportunities that New York, LA, Chicago, or Dallas can? Only when that league is colluding to some extent to ensure competitive parity.

Remember the USFL? Well a lot of players like Steve Young, and Herschel Walker got mega money. Unfortunately the league was built on unrestricted free agency and was unsustainable. What is better for a football player, the USFL, Arena Football, Canadian Football, or the NFL? The proof is in the pudding as they use to say.

posted by Atheist at 02:51 PM on April 26

I'd love to hear your take on the factual and legal arguments presented by both sides when weighed against the federal standards for temporary injunctions. Because that's what that stupid, corrupt, mindless woman who rose to the federal bench did. She's not allowed to read a couple of sports blogs, listen to a third of the Tony Kornheiser show, then pull an opinion of the way things should be out of her ass.

tahoemoj, thank you.

You expressed what I was thinking a lot more eloquently than I would have.

posted by tommytrump at 02:58 PM on April 26

No matter how I analyze the situation, I always get back to the fact that as a fan, the league has proven responsible and effective in providing the best product possible while treating it's employees probably better than I have seen in any employer employee relationship.

I would not describe today's NFL as the "best product possible" compared to the past. The number of TV timeouts has gotten ridiculous. It sucks all the excitement out of the crowd to go through a bunch of them in succession at pivotal times.

As for the NFL treating its employees better than anyone else, I can't tell whether you're talking about all employers. If so, I think I'd give the nod to employers that don't chop 15-20 years off the life expectancy of their employees and leave many of them agonizingly crippled.

posted by rcade at 03:10 PM on April 26

I always find it funny when an organized league is accused of collusion. Collusion to do what?

I made it through the first graf in spite of it being nothing but you begging the question (except where you said "all teams can be competitive", which means nothing), but I had to get off the train right here. Did you miss the 1980s? Major League Baseball was compelled to allow free agency, so the owners all got together and agreed to not sign free agents, meaning while there was de jure free agency, there was no de facto free agency, which is a fancy-Dan, liberal mouthful meaning they subverted the legal system.

I am, and will always be, reminded of Patterson Hood's assertion, "To the fucking rich man all poor people look the same". Who are you defending? Do you think the owners would drop ticket prices if they didn't have to pay salaries? They've got a sweet deal to begin with and then they have half the fans doing their PR for them. No idea why. I hate to be the hype man for players all the time, but what's the alternative? Allow owners to declare the terms under which athletes are allowed to play?

posted by yerfatma at 03:50 PM on April 26

It would appear that Judge Nelson has abandoned the principal of law in exchange for some concept she sees as the "public good". The following is part of her opinion.

"The public ramifications of this dispute exceed the abstract principles of the antitrust laws, as professional football involves many layers of tangible economic impact, ranging from broadcast revenues down to concessions sales,'' Nelson wrote.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is one of the more conservative of the Federal courts. 8 of its 11 judges were appointed by President Reagan, and it is considered very much pro-business. The owners will appeal while going through the motions as if therre were no lockout and the existing collective bargaining agreement were still in effect. Of course the CBA is between the NFLPA and the NFL, but the NFLPA no longer exists. How then does one return to "status quo ante"? Bet on this thing lasting a long time.

On edit: rcade, you write of an employer that chops years off of life expectancy. I would argue that the NFL is not alone in doing this. What about mine operators? Even those who strictly comply with federal safety standards cannot guarantee that their employees will not be injured, killed, or contract a chronic illness. The US Navy is such an employer. Working the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the 2nd most hazardous job in the US. Such employers understand the hazards, and have in place compensation plans. Professional football players should understand the hazards of their job, and if they undertake the work because of the high salaries available, they do so at some risk. Yes, they can demand better health and injury benefits, and it should be a part of any labor agreement. I fear that if the CBA swings toward greater player dollar compensation, it will be at the expense of better post-career health care.

posted by Howard_T at 03:54 PM on April 26

I always find it funny when an organized league is accused of collusion. Collusion to do what?

Like yerfatma said, collusion to fix salaries is the most common form of collusion by a sports league.

They also have the option to collude to restrict players from switching teams.

What if you worked in an industry that said you couldn't move from one company to another, even if your contract with the first company was up? The other companies had agreed not to offer you a job, forcing you to continue working with the first company (if you wanted to keep working).

posted by grum@work at 03:56 PM on April 26

So when a player like Adrian Peterson compares playing in the NFL to being a slave, I have to ask myself, who has a better grasp on the long term interests of professional football in the NFL.

I'm pretty sure using the silly sound bite of one player to paint the entire group of players is ridiculous. Especially since there are 50 times more players than there are owners, and the owners are under the thumb of the league to say nothing interesting about the dispute.

If Jerry Jones was free to speak his mind to the media about this labour issue, I'm sure he'd drop some bon mot that the media would eat up like candy.

posted by grum@work at 04:02 PM on April 26

Grum@work -

Of course there is collusion which was my point, but to say a player cannot switch teams when their contract is over is misleading. The league like all of them have developed a system that protects the right to work, while creating guidelines and rules for players to sell their talents to other teams in the same league system. If a player is not under contract, he is free to sell his services to the Arena League, or the Canadian League. If he wants to play in the NFL, he can be traded, or utilize the free agent system as it exists. It is a negotiated free agent system between the league and players union. A system that not only has provided the biggest player salaries and benefits of any football system, but also does as much to protect players under contract whether or not they play well. So when you sign a guy like Haynesworth who is a detriment to his team, contractually you are stuck. It can backfire on a player who has a contract bigger than his performance level making it difficult for another team to pick him up due to the compensation issues.

I rarely hear a player say football is just too dangerous so I am opting not to play, which is completely within their right. The US is full of people actively competing to get a job in the NFL, so if it is so bad, why are potential employees lining up to try out?

As for the physical demands of football. By the time a player reaches the NFL, it is probably safe to assume he has spent some years in pee wee football, then 4 years of high school football, and another 4 years of major college football. So if the average career is 4 years long, most players have played football for more that twice that length of time for absolutely no pay, or at best a free education. Blaming the NFL for the health risks of football when typically the NFL represents a small part of the players football life is unfair. Besides as others have said, there are many professions that are far more dangerous. Nobody is forced to play football, they sign the contract with full knowledge of the associated risks and hopefully make an informed decision to participate. All the risks make a nice argument for the ridiculous amount of pay a player receives, but nobody seems to complain. When you join the all volunteer army, or go to work for a police department, fire department, coal mining or oil drilling operation for X per month, you sign a waiver and accept the risks of the job. To me the same holds true for football, except of course that in football, the money is crazy, the benefits are as good as it gets, and there is a medical, full retirement and pension plan. You are a profit sharing partner, union member and you do what you love. Most players that cannot make an NFL roster will happily play for the Arena league or CFL. Besides, if they feel that football is not a good decision for them, they are free to work like the rest of us, for whatever pay and benefits they can find in another occupation. I find it very difficult to believe that someone with the ability would not see the NFL as a great opportunity.

posted by Atheist at 05:06 PM on April 26

I am having a hard time with the notion that just because a business owner is wealthy, it makes him evil or the enemy of the employees. I never met a Microsoft employee that complained that Bill Gates is making too much money or is greedy. They go to work at Microsoft, and are typically grateful for all the benefits, pay and perks. They don't typically spend time counting the bosses money, and feeling slighted they he is a billionaire and they are merely millionaires, or only making $180K per year.

Negotiating a fair and equitable CBA is fine, and frankly both sides seem ridiculously greedy to get this close to killing the golden goose. If I were an owner like the Rooney family or the Hunts that has been building their business for a couple of generations, since the days when it wasn't profitable, I would be damned if employees that work typically for a few years would be entitled to see my books, or become my partners.

posted by Atheist at 05:13 PM on April 26

If Jerry Jones was free to speak his mind to the media about this labour issue, I'm sure he'd drop some bon mot that the media would eat up like candy.

Im surprised he hasn't anyway.

Yes I do despise that man

posted by Folkways at 05:21 PM on April 26

rcade, you write of an employer that chops years off of life expectancy. I would argue that the NFL is not alone in doing this. What about mine operators?

Comparing NFL owners to mine operators bolsters my point. The NFL's a dangerous place to work. Players deserve as much money as they can pry from Scrooge McDavis, Scrooge McJones, Scrooge McSnyder and the rest.

I never met a Microsoft employee that complained that Bill Gates is making too much money or is greedy.

Microsoft abused the temp system so much that a class-action suit was filed by their permatemps and they settled for $97 million. If you don't think some of Microsoft's workforce was (or is) unhappy with top management, you're nuts. Read about their labor practices and tell me again that nobody complained. Some of their employees were sued for quitting!

posted by rcade at 05:23 PM on April 26

I don't get your argument, tselson.

I probably don't have one. The decertification of the union and the lawsuits which were immediately filed by the players, rubbed me wrong as it seemed to cheat the bad thing about unionizing which is you're rights are covered under section 301 of the Taft Hartley act? Then I came across this diddy from the expired CBA which is probably what you were talking about.

(b) The Parties agree that, after the expiration of the express term of
this Agreement, in the event that at that time or any time thereafter a majority
of players indicate that they wish to end the collective bargaining status
of the NFLPA on or after expiration of this Agreement, the NFL and its
Clubs and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, representatives,
agents, successors and assigns waive any rights they may have to assert any
antitrust labor exemption defense based upon any claim that the termination
by the NFLPA of its status as a collective bargaining representative is
238
Article LVII, Mutual Reservation of Rights: Labor Exemption
or would be a sham, pretext, ineffective, requires additional steps, or has
not in fact occurred.

So, stupid owners.

posted by tselson at 05:33 PM on April 26

Wow. What a find!

posted by rcade at 05:36 PM on April 26

Of course there is collusion which was my point, but to say a player cannot switch teams when their contract is over is misleading.

If a player is not under contract, he is free to sell his services to the Arena League, or the Canadian League. If he wants to play in the NFL, he can be traded, or utilize the free agent system as it exists. It is a negotiated free agent system between the league and players union.

Maybe you aren't understanding collusion.

When it happens, all of these things are in place. However, the owner can subvert the negotiated free agent system and simply agree not to sign other teams' players. That restricts players from plying their trade in a meaningful manner. They are no longer able to properly negotiate a meaningful wage.

Suggesting that they relegate themselves to the CFL or AFL because the owners force that upon them (in a colluded agreement) is obviously unfair in a collective bargaining arrangement.

For a good example of this, see Collusion I, II, and II in major league baseball.

Andre Dawson had to take a pay cut to continue working in his profession, even though he was a 4-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time Silver Slugger winner, and in the prime of his career. In fact, he'd win the MVP award that season.

Are you suggesting that Dawson should have accepted that no one was going to sign him to a reasonable contract (he even offered a signed blank contract), and just accepted playing in the independent leagues?

This wasn't just a case of wanting more money. Dawson did not want to play in Montreal any more because the artificial turf was destroying his knees. He expressed a desire to play for a team that had natural grass in their ball park.

posted by grum@work at 09:02 PM on April 26

Howard_T, I'm going to assume you're not a lawyer because determining whether granting a preliminary injunction is in the public's interest is part of the four-factor test judges use for issuing injunctions.

In case you're interested, that four factor test is: 1) the person seeking the injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits [i.e. win at trial], 2) that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, 3) that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and 4) that an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 365, 375 (2008)

posted by thewittyname at 03:16 PM on April 27

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