Yesterday Judge Susan Nelson granted the player's request for an injunction to lift the lockout. Surprisingly she did not issue a stay at the same time. Lawyers for the NFL requested one late in the evening yesterday and Judge Nelson has given the players 24 hours to respond to that request. I don't know how long it will take to get a ruling on the stay, but I can't imagine it'll take as long as the initial ruling. Since she didn't issue a stay originally I'm inclined to believe that she'll not grant one this time around, which means the league year could theoretically begin as soon as Thursday morning, and thus we'd have the resumption of normal football operations (including being able to sign draft picks and give them playbooks).
How are the teams and the players handling this? The NFL has told the teams to allow access to the building but not to be able to use the facilities pending the results of the stay. The players are being told from their NFLPA representatives to show up to work, as the teams would be in violation of the judge's orders if they block them from entering the facilities.
This is important since many players have work-out bonuses built into their contracts, and due to the lockout they won't be receiving those. D'Brickashaw Ferguson has a $750,000 bonus attached to his contract this year. He showed up at the Jets facility for 2 minutes and then left. His argument will be that the clause in his contract states that he's there for 85% of available workouts. If he shows up and the team doesn't let him workout that's his problem.
Drew Rosenhaus earlier tweeted that several of his clients have shown up at their team facilities and that the teams were respectful but did not allow access to the workout facilities.
How are the 49ers handling it?
Takeo Spikes is the player representative for the team. Earlier he sent a text message to the other players which said:
Be advised any player going to work today is doing so under the ruling that Judge Nelson rendered yesterday. Judge Nelson's court order prevents clubs from locking out players under contract, so they can show up for work. Unless and until the judge issues an order for a stay (delay of the injunction), the teams will be in violation of Judge Nelson's order if they don't allow access"
I'm pretty sure this is the same statement being sent to other players by their reps. 49ers spokesman Bob Lange had this to say about the situation:
"Any player who arrives at the facility will meet with a senior staff member. No football activities will be scheduled to take place until there is more clarity from the legal proceedings."
I actually think that both sides are approaching this in the right manner. The judge might be giving a stay, and if so the teams don't want to allow access because that could hurt them legally later on. On the other hand if the stay is denied, the players don't want to be missing out on any potential workout bonuses.
To be honest I'm just grateful that we might be able to actually talk real football news soon. I don't think that this ruling will have much of an impact on any possible negotiations, but it'll be nice to be able to sign free agents, and to get new playbooks to the team so that the 49ers aren't behind the curve in all this.
I think the bigger case for leverage in the negotiations will be Judge Doty's decision on what to do with the tv revenue. That case is later in the summer and it could be a game changer.