Here We Go Again, NFL and Players Back in Court

By Alan Schechter

As reported on by Albert Breer today, the NFL and its players were back in St. Louis Circuit Court today, arguing the validity, or lack thereof, of the lockout in front of the 3 judge panel that lifted the stay of the lockout only weeks ago.

Judge Bye, the lone dissenter in the court’s previous opinions on this matter, urged the sides to settle when he advised that the panel “wouldn’t be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case”, and stated that neither side will be happy with the court’s decision it gets that far.  The ruling should come anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.

Here are the pertinent points from the court argument:

Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of the league, tried to discount the validity of the NFLPA decertification, using the fact that they are negotiating to prove his point.  Furthermore he stated that the league should have the right to lock out the players for at least a year, due to the non-statutory labor exemption.  He also attacked the fact that the players did this once before, de-certifying, and re-certifying in 1993.

Ted Olson, representing the players, defended the decertification by reminding the court that the only reason they re-certified the last time at the league’s request.

I’ll let Albert Breer tell the next part:

“Judges Steven Colloton and William Duane Benton repeatedly referenced theNorris-LaGuardia Act, which bars injunctions in cases arising from a labordispute, in asking Olson why the law wouldn’t make Nelson’s judgment wrong.

Olson responded: “The union is not in existence anymore. The players cannotengage in collective bargaining because it’s against the law.” Olson alsodefended the validity of the Brady suit by saying the league had been found inviolation of antitrust law “15 times.””

George Atallah of the NFLPA, urged that although the legal battle moves forward, both sides should not stop working towards a long-term solution.

So the battle rages on.  This court decision will go a long way to determining whether or not there will be a football season this fall.  Stay tuned.