Seahawks Insider

Judge Nelson rules to lift lockout

Post by Eric Williams on April 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm with 39 Comments »
April 25, 2011 4:00 pm
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson (AP file photo).

In a ruling that was somewhat expected, a federal judge has sided with NFL players and granted their request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued her ruling late today, which gives players an early victory in their fight with NFL owners over a new collective bargaining agreement in the $9 billion business.

However, the surprising part of Judge Nelson’s ruling is she did not offer a stay of the ruling, which means the lockout should begin immediately, unless the NFL can obtain a modification of the ruling by the judge or an issuance of a stay by the U.S. Court of Appeal, where NFL owners likely will file their appeal.

If the league can not get a stay of the ruling, the NFL will have to open its doors and allow free agency to begin. However, don’t expect that to happen immediately, as they have to figure what the rules will be governing player movement. So stay tuned.

The NFL made this statement after the ruling:

“We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth 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.”

Legal system
Leave a comment Comments → 39
  1. Call Sidney Rice! I’d say another player from a more important position of need, but a guy like Logan Mankins is currently “franchised.” Who knows? Maybe 4 year players won’t be “free.” I hate the unknown!

  2. Sign Nnamdi Asomugha by the Wednesday!

  3. SandpointHawk says:

    From Pete Carroll’s face book page…

    seahawks draft clues are…………. BACK! “hey ya” by obadiah parker or outkast … pick the correct version of “hey ya” & you’ll get the 1st of the #seahawksdraftclues!
    Obadiah Parker – Hey Ya Cover – Bing Videos
    Original video of Obadiah Parker performing his acoustic cover of Hey Ya . Please visit

  4. Dukeshire says:

    Actually, a more responsible course of action would be to re-sign Hass or Mebane first, or at least before Thursday. However, I’m certain that nothing will be able to happen in the near future.

  5. chuck_easton says:

    This was expected but it is not good news for the NFL.

    The player’s lawyers are pushing for no draft, no free agency rules.

    So, we can go out and pay Payton Manning 40 million tomorrow. He’s a free agent now.

    No draft so who cares what the team needs. Just go out and buy it.

    If there is no draft I’m done with the NFL.

  6. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Let me get this straight, there is now a (narrow) window to sign/re-sign free agents?

    Eric, any idea how poised John Schneider/Pete Carroll are to get deals done with Hasselbeck, Mebane and others? Are all the people in place (i.e. not on vacation, etc) to get something done before a stay can be granted by the 8th Circuit Court?

  7. Dukeshire says:

    Chuck – I presume the league filled paperwork for a stay immediately. How long does it generally take before they ruling is set aside? Or how long will the lockout be lifted before the appeal process begins, in your estimation?

  8. chuck_easton says:

    The difficulty from a legal standpoint (my own feelings about the NFL and the players aside), is that Judge Nelson specifically stated that the players opted to no longer have a Union.

    So, the league cannot do anything as a collective unit or they risk further anti-trust violations.

    So, you now have 32 separate businesses and 1800 individual employees.

    If the Cheeper teams decide not to sign any players or decide to not play the season that is now their right as a business.

    If the Cowboys want to field a team of 100 players that is their right as an individual business.

    If the owners do anything that appears that they are working together they are in violation of anti-trust laws.

    This is where things are going to get sticky at the Court of Appeal.

    The league cannot have rules because that is like McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendys all getting together to decide what a hamburger is going to cost.

  9. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Wow…thank you, Chuck. Should be an interesting next few days (or even hours)…

  10. AaronCurryIsBUST says:

    Sign Manny Lawson, Laron Landry, and try for Peyton. Cut Aaron Curry.

  11. Dukeshire says:

    Landry’s not a FA.

  12. Yes, chuck, thanks for all your insight throughout this process from a legal standpoint. It has been much appreciated, even if I haven’t said so up to this point.

  13. Sign Matt, Mebane, Rice, and Asomugha all by tomorrow! lol

  14. chuck_easton says:

    Yes Duke is correct. Any player that currently has a contract has to honor it.

    But any hint at a salary cap, Franchise player rules, minimum salary rules, benefits are essentially gone under this ruling.

    So if a team wants to pay its star player 40 million but they will only pay the rest of the players 50,000.00. The players either accept the contract or they go elsewhere.

    If one team decides it isn’t going to offer medical benefits the players can’t go on strike because they aren’t a Union anymore. They can’t complain to their organization because they aren’t a Union anymore. The player either accepts that there are no benefits or he leaves.

    Look for teams like the Browns, Bengals, Jags and other lesser teams to field teams of any scraps they can get to play for mininimum wage while teams like Dallas and Washington spend millions to get all the best players.

    Certain teams may just decide that it’s too expensive to continue to operate so they can close their doors.

    The NFL as a league can make ‘rules’ that say if you want to be a team you have to do these things, but they can’t enforce it or they risk anti-trust violations.

  15. I don’t see them being able to start FA before the draft, which is good for those who don’t want to see Kevin Kolb.

  16. Dukeshire says:

    Chuck – Legally speaking, what is the difference between a union an an association, relevant to this particular situation?

  17. Chuck – having no draft and no work rules is the gamble the owners decided to take, The NFL owners and their the franchise values have enjoyed a parabolic rise under the current system the past 20 years. The NFL owners decided it wasn’t enough and they wanted more. They decided to play with our emotions (the fans) and risk the entire season. They definitely felt it was ok to cancel games in order to get more of the pie, regardless of how their paying customers were treated. They thought they could do this because they are used to always “winning.”

    With the current political system in place and the Ben Bernanke led Federal Reserve engaging in a backdoor wealth transfer scheme, the ultra wealthy rarely ever has their asset value and cash flows at true risk, regardless of the economy. The system ensures they do plenty of “winning” in every economic situation that Charlie Sheen would be jealous.

    I am glad to see the owners put their business at risk in a stupid and foolish move and glad to see they don’t have the Ben Bernanke and Congressional backstop on their side. If they lose cost certainty by losing the draft and work rules, their franchise values will plummet. In the end, they will only have themselves to blame.

  18. chuck_easton says:


    Are you prepared to lose the Seahawks? If Paul Allen decides he doesn’t want to run the business anymore he can now sell it to anyone. If that new owner decides the market is better in another city the league can’t tell a private business owner where he has to operate his business.

    The league can’t tell a private business owner that there has to be a minimum wage other than the government minimum wage.

    So, there is competition. But if an owner decides he doesn’t want to pay his players what the other teams are paying so be it. If that means the fans go away, so be it.

  19. chuck_easton says:

    In the long run this is not going to be good for the players. You will see a system where the top teams and the top players get all the money while the other 80% of the team will play for whatever they can get.

    If teams fold due to the fact that they cannot compete with the bigger teams then there are now less jobs available for players. No veteran minimum. If the team can get a younger player to play for less money bye bye veteran.

    We as fans have to decide if we will be sheep and accept an NFL under these conditions or we can walk. But this is not good for the game as we currently know and love it.

  20. chuck_easton says:

    It’s already starting. Player reps are telling their players to ‘show up for work’ tomorrow morning, in Pittsburgh at least.

    Things will get ugly here quickly.

  21. raymaines says:

    Dukeshire asks: Legally speaking, what is the difference between a union an an association, relevant to this particular situation?

    The difference is irrelevant. It’s all about having a CBA. A draft is totally illegal, and the only reason it can exist is because the owners and the players have agreed to it. Without a NFLPA there is no CBA and therefore, no collective bargaining agreement.

    Imagine being a regular student and working hard to be the top student in your class and then being “Drafted” by the worst company in the field. No options! Either work for the looser company or go hungry. Why should being an athlete be any different than being a law or medical student?

    Chuck says: If there is no draft I’m done with the NFL.

    I can see it happening. It would mean that teams with the sharpest management and the most money would be the winners while Buffalo, AZ, Minnesota, etc. would just be screwed.

    This is going to get more interesting before it’s settled. IMHO: The owners are just stupid., but we’ll see how it works itself out.

  22. Dukeshire says:

    raymaines – I appreciate your view, but that does nothing to answer my question. In addition, it seems as though you feel I’m insinuating something with the question. I’m not.

  23. raymaines says:

    Dukeshire: No sir, I don’t I think you’re in situating anything. I’m only saying that your question is irreverent to the situation as it stands right now.

    No Union = no CBA = no legal draft.

    The situation is already well beyond what I thought it would devolve to and it’s going to get weirder before it gets better. The owners and players might agree to go basically back where things were before, or they might plunge into the uncharted waters of the legal system. No real telling where it might go, but it’s going to be interesting.

  24. raymaines says:

    Oh crap! Where’s the EDIT button when you need it? Make that “insinuating”

  25. raymaines says:

    and “irrelevant” I hate it when my proofreader takes the night off.

  26. Dukeshire says:

    raymaines – Lol, I know how that goes. Anyway, I don’t think it’s irrelevant. Are you suggesting there will be no draft Thursday? In addition, is anyone really of the belief the union will not reform? That there will never be another CBA? I’m thoroughly skeptical of that. Remember, the union decertified in ’87 in order to sue the league under anti-trust laws. They re-formed and reached another CBA 6 years later. Drafts were never interrupted. This is, in part, why I’m curious what the difference is in the eyes of the courts now.

  27. I know one thing I will be at the Stadium for the draft Thursday. Yee Haww.

  28. raymaines says:

    To be honest Dukeshire, I’m not really sure what I’m saying. I’m sure the draft will take place this weekend and I’m pretty sure whomever the ‘Hawks pick will end up being a SeaHawk, but all of this could get really weird if the two sides let it.

    Just about everything the NFL does is illegal and can only be done because the owners and players have agreed to it. That’s over!

    Chuck dropped a few hints of how this could go about half way up this thread but, to be blunt, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Let me say again that the owners and players might, and probably will, just kiss and make up, but things could get really out of hand.

    Minimum and maximum payroll (salary cap), active roster & practice squad size, retirement & health benefits, etc. etc are all out the door without a CBA as well as the annual college draft. Guaranteed contracts, free agent status, trading deadlines? All of that is out the window. None of it legal without some sort of CBA.

    I guess all I’m saying is that the NFL could drastically change, and mostly for the worst. It probably won’t, but it could. It will be an interesting summer.

  29. ChrisHolmes says:

    Just remember everyone – this isn’t really about the players saying the NFL is in violation of antitrust laws. That’s not it at all. The whole issue about free agency, salary cap – it’s bogus. That is not what this is about.

    The real issue here is that the players want to see the owners accounting books, and they have spent two years trying to get the owners to open their books without success. The legal maneuver is all about forcing the owners to justify their position. The owners have been saying they need to scale back the pie-sharing because costs and expenses are up. The players are saying, “prove it.” The NFL owners don’t want to open their books.

    If this gets far enough, during discovery the owners will be forced to open their books. That is the ONLY reason the union decertified and filed this lawsuit.

    If the owners would have opened their books from the start, this would have never happened. The players believe the owners never negotiated in good faith because they never had any intention of justifying their position.

    Both sides are being dorks, but I can see the players perspective easier. They are asking for justification for their salaries being reduced and the owners don’t want to show it.

    This legal maneuver is all about that one single thing. Not the draft, not free agency… none of that. Don’t get sidetracked on what this is really all about.

  30. 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.”

    Then get your stupid butts back to the table and talk you morons!!!!

  31. You’re right that it’s not about the draft, salary cap, etc. But that is indeed a nuclear option the players could use and the owners seem overconfident enough they could conceivably force the players to push the button.

    If the chances of that nuclear option being used were 0% two months ago, it is up to 10-20% now. And that number will only rise if the owners insist on radically trying to change the economics of the last 20 years without justification and by using their own nuclear option of a lockout.

  32. Dukeshire says:

    raymaines – Ultimately, I don’t think the NFL will change all that much. But you’re right on, we don’t know that for sure. My guess is that when the dust settles (either the stay is not granted and / or the appeal also goes in favor of the players) the ’11 season will be conducted under the same rules the ’10 season was, the union will reform and a new CBA will be reached. When? Hell if I know. I have so many questions about the litigation process because like you, I have no real idea about all this. Learning as I go.

  33. HawkfaninMT says:

    Back to the important stuff…

    One of the members of Outkasts name is “Big Boi”. Sounds to me like they are targetting lineman with that first pick! O or D, no clue!! Outkasts music is particularly Offensive to me, so I suppose that means DL! I am good!!

  34. HawkfaninMT says:


    “…ISN”T particularly offensive…”

  35. Dukeshire says:

    I looks like some players are indeed showing up at facilities. I hope to read some Seahawks are doing the same. Especially guys like Butler, Bryant and Lofa that are coming off surgeries and otherwise rehabbing injuries that need to get checked out by the medical staff.

  36. Thursday’s draft is the last bit of the old CBA. As of now there is no ’12 draft. That might make it interesting if teams are trying to move up or down in the draft. What I’d like to know is if players currently under contract can now be swapped as part of jockeying for draft positions?

  37. Dukeshire says:

    klm008 – This should answer your questions.

    And there was no CBA between ’87 and ’93 and not one draft was interrupted. I don’t foresee this being the last draft. Not at all.

  38. Have to say…

    I highly doubt the owner’s expected to be in this situation. Ironic that it could potentially blow up in their faces.

    And while I expect the draft to proceed as planned, there’s a potential that the draft could be called off with where things are. It’s not business as usual, and without having an ability to collective bargain, it’s possible it won’t be business as usual.

    *sigh* nervous, confused, angry… why can’t they just pull their heads out of their collective …. and get back to work… :(

  39. Union decertifies
    Owners lockout
    players get injunction on lockout,
    Players can go to facilities and will be allowed in, but aren’t allowed to train because of liability issues, and teams can’t talk to players not currently under contract.
    Owners to ask for stay of injunction from Nelson tomorrow. Players to respond to request for stay tomorrow also.
    Then NFL asks 8th circuit for stay of injunction if refused by Nelson.
    The NFL may then be refused a stay again, then the NFL have to come up with the rules to use for 2011 (probably the same as 2010).
    Meanwhile, NFL doesn’t want any teams communicating with players not currently under contract. No new contracts and no trades until the NFL comes up with and agrees to the ’11 rules. This isn’t happening before the Thursday draft.

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