During the draft, Roger Goodell answered the fans’ chants of “we want football” by saying “so do I”. I’m sure he does but I’m not so sure how much he’s really helping the situation. The latest rumor floating around is about a possible complete shut down of the NFL. On Sunday May 8th, Mike Florio of PFT reported that he is hearing “initial rumblings” about this possible strategy by the owners if they were to lose their appeal.
What’s not exactly clear to me is whether he’s talking about if they lose the ruling on the stay while the appeals process plays out or if they lose the appeal, period (the June 3rd hearing). Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:
He starts by saying:
“So if the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that the lockout should be lifted while the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit proceeds, the league will simply open the doors and allow business to continue as usual until the Brady case is settled, right?”
But then goes on to say this:
“We’re hearing initial rumblings pointing to the possibility that a loss by the league at the appellate level will prompt the owners to completely shut down all business operations until the players agree to a new labor deal. The thinking is that, if the owners cease all operations, the NFL would not be violating the court order because there would be no lockout. Instead, the league essentially would be going out of business — something for which the NFL repeatedly chided the union in the weeks and months preceding decertification of the NFLPA.”
So if this strategy were to be employed by the owners, which is it? If they lose the ruling on the stay or if they lose the appeal? If the owners were to act as if they’re going out of business that would bring extremely bad PR to a situation that already has bad PR. This would be a brutal, cut-throat strategy and I’d have to wonder if they could really get away with it, legally.
But then wait…Peter King of Sports Illustrated mentioned this in his column on May 9th in regards to the PFT report…
“I reached out to a couple of ownership sources Sunday night; both said this was the first they’d heard of such a plan. We’ll see if it grows legs as the month goes on.”
Feel better about that rumor now? Well don’t because just a short bit ago (today) Roger Goodell was on PFT Live and when asked about the rumor of this shutdown he was quoted as saying: “We’re considering a variety of alternatives based on the court decisions“. Well, obviously that’s not a denial and in these matters that’s as close to a “yes” as you’re going to get. Doesn’t sound good folks.
Although, it does seem like an absurd thing for the NFL to do but stranger things have happened. If things go down this path it will be interesting to see if it makes the players cave quicker due to financial concerns or make things drag out longer because it pisses them off even more.
In other Lockout related news, this article by Sports Business Daily says that there is a small group of people working on 2011 free agency rules that could possibly be used by the NFL if the lockout is lifted. It has been widely thought that the league would use the 2010 rules but now it appears that may not be the case. If they reduce the number of accrued years needed to be eligible for free agency from 6 to 5 (or 4), the difference is huge in terms of what players would be available. Let’s hope this ends up being the case.
The NFL owners gained some support by way of a “friend of the court” filed by the NHL. Andrew Brandt of National Football Post has a nice article expanding on the that and also the potential new rules if the league opens for business. Apparently the NHL is afraid that if the players are allowed to decertify their union and win an antitrust case, it will set precedence for the rest of the major sports leagues. Looking at it from their point of view, I can’t blame them. But for now I’m not sure how much that could influence a judge’s decision on the NFL’s matter.
So what are we waiting for next in regards to this whole Lockout debacle? Next up is the ruling on whether or not the stay will remain in place during the entire appeals process. This is expected any day now. Then there is the matter of Judge Nelson’s ruling that the sides return to mediation on May 16th. Goodell stated today that 4 owners will attend mediation next week. Ultimately, June 3rd is the date the Appellate Court will hear the appeals case and a ruling is expected to come within 6 weeks afterwards.
“Get yo popcorn ready” ~ Terrell Owens