NFL players saw the labor fight tip in their favor Monday as a federal judge ordered the league to end its lockout, meaning football will continue while owners and players bicker over how to divide more than $9 billion in annual revenue.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in St. Paul, Minn., ordered an end to the 7-week-old lockout, saying she believed the players' argument that the situation was causing irreparable harm to their careers.
"It's one step closer to trying to do what we brought this case for — to make sure that there's football, that players can play and fans can watch," players attorney Jim Quinn told The Times in a phone interview.
Now, the ball is in the court of the NFL, which will attempt to get a stay of the ruling — keeping the lockout in place — from Nelson. The NFL already has filed a notice with the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, questioning whether the district court exceeded its jurisdiction. . A lockout is a vital leverage tool for the owners, because players are much more likely to be willing to negotiate a new labor agreement if they're being denied paychecks in the interim.
"We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes," the NFL said in a written statement. "We are confident that the 8th Circuit will agree. But 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. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."
The ruling will not affect this week's draft, which was put in place as the last piece of the now-expired CBA. But because there is no longer a players union — the NFL Players Assn. decertified as a union last month — the league is in peril of running afoul of antitrust laws with each decision the owners make collectively.
"Right now they're on very risky ground," said Quinn, who co-chairs global litigation for Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
Chargers and football on Sundays. YEAH