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2011 NFL lockout roundup: Brady vs NFL assigned a new judge, NFLPA urges boycott

Quick roundup of news. I'll still be doing these, though they won't be every day since the news will be scarce for awhile. I'll probably do them a couple of times a week and increase the frequency as we get more information.

Two pieces of news regarding the court case. The first is that the date for the hearing has been set for April 6. The judge will hear from both sides on that date, and then issue a ruling, which probably won't be for a couple more days. The 6th is a Wednesday, so my guess (pure speculation really), is that we'd have a decision by that Friday. I feel fairly confident in saying that we'll have a decision before the start of the draft on April 28, so that the NFL can know how to proceed.

The NFL has filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board asking them to block the NFLPA's decertification. There's been no word from that front at all. Jason LaConfora tweeted this earlier today

Nancy Cleeland of the NLRB says investigation into NFL claim against NFLPA is ongoing. No firm timetable for a ruling at this point

An interesting note here--there's specific language in the CBA that states that the NFL can't seek to block the NFLPA's decertification, if that event happens due to a lockout. However, the NFLPA decertified before any announced lockout, leaving a huge gray area for the courts to decide.

Also in court news--the judge assigned to hear Brady vs the NFL has been changed again. This has been the third time that the judge presiding has been switched. The case was first assigned to Justice Richard Kyle who recused himself for unknown reasons. It was then assigned to Judge Patrick Schiltz who recused himself because he had represented the NFL while an attorney and didn't want to have any possible conflict of interest.

The judge overseeing the case now is Judge Susan Nelson, who was appointed a federal judge in 2010. The players want to have Judge Doty hear the case, as he's been very friendly to him before. Judge Nelson is an unknown quantity, and I'm really curious as to how she'll rule. I

From the Yahoo article:

Former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger said there is a way for the case to still wind up in front of Doty.

"If either the court or one of the parties designates the case as a related case to one that has been previously assigned to another judge, it could get reassigned," Heffelfinger said.

I haven't heard any news about this being requested yet, but I have a hard time thinking that it would.

The NFLPA has asked college players to not attend the draft.

From ESPN:

The NFL Players Association is putting into place a plan that would prevent each top college prospect from attending next month's draft in New York, according to multiple league sources. The NFLPA already has contacted 17 top prospects who ordinarily would have received an invitation to attend the draft and informed them not to go.

Thus, when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the name of the first player selected, the player will not walk onto the stage at Radio City Music Hall as has been the custom. And the player will not be there to do interviews with ESPN or NFL Network. The draft will go on, but not in the manner in which it has been conducted before.

"As of right now, this is 100 percent happening," said one source familiar with the NFL Players Association's thinking. "This is going down."

I think that's a huge slap in the face to the fans. Of course if the judge hands down an injunction against the draft the point will be moot anyway.

This is also confusing to me, since incoming players are not part of the NFLPA and never have been. I'm not sure where the NFLPA is deriving the authority from to order them to do anything, especially given that they're supposedly decertified and no longer handling union business. Sure sounds like they're handling union business to me.

Greg Aiello had this response:

"We plan to invite the 15-20 top prospects and their families to New York as we normally do for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, as always, it is the decision of the players and their families as to whether they attend," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in response to the report.