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2011 NFL Lockout: Judge Susan Nelson Orders End To Lockout, But.....

Fooch's Second Update: Judge Nelson's decision is now available for public consumption (here's a PDF). Among other things, she thinks the NLRB will rule against NFL and state the NFLPA decertification is not a sham. It's 89 pages long so I'll start poking through the decision.

Fooch's Note: Smileyman put together this post prior to a decision being reached. He had to run out and is not around to update this post before it gets published, so I'm sliding in to take care of it. I've moved his content after the jump, although at this point it's dated information.

ESPN is reporting Judge Susan Nelson has ruled for the players and ordered an end to the lockout. Additionally, she refused to issue a stay of the lockout while the NFL appeals the decision. Under her order that would mean the start of NFL business would be underway in the very near future. HOWEVER, the NFL will immediately appeal this decision to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and ask that Court for a stay, which would leave the lockout in place until the Court of Appeals issues its own decision. If there is no stay, there would be a wee bit of chaos while the sides figure things out before the Court of Appeals.

The decision will be made available for viewing by the public sometime today and I'll add an update to this post at that point.

Fooch's Update: Roger Cossack indicated a decision on a stay pending appeal would be decided on within the next week. If I'm a head coach (say of a certain Peninsula-based football team), so I jump on this as an opportunity to talk to my team? I'd imagine the NFL has spoken with the owners about this possible judicial outcome and had them relay instructions to the coaches to wait until a ruling on the stay of the injunction. It's just a guess, but it makes sense to me.

On April 6, 2011 Judge Nelson heard from lawyers representing the NLFPA and the NFL regarding an injunction to stop the lockout. During that hearing she had several probing questions for the NFL's attorney, who was asked nearly three times as many questions as was the NFLPA's. As a refresher, the NFL argued that Judge Nelson didn't have jurisdiction over the case since the issue was before the NLRB. 

A few days later she ordered the two sides to meet under the auspices of Judge Arthur J. Boylan. The two sides met together and separately with the judge for nearly two weeks before adjourning to hear today's decision. While some progress was made, there wasn't enough of it to keep talking, which is why they adjourned.

So what will be the result of today's decision by Judge Nelson?


So what are the possible decisions she could make?

1. She could grant the injunction. If she grants the injunction than the lockout is lifted and business in the NFL would resume under the 2010 rules. The NFL will almost certainly ask for a stay on the injunction so they can appeal the case to the 8th District. If Judge Nelson grants the stay than the lockout will remain in place until the District Court hears the case.

Assuming she grants the injunction I'd be very surprised if she doesn't grant the NFL a stay, as that's standard procedure when an appeal will be made.

2. She could deny the injunction. This means the lockout will stay in place. In this case the players will certainly file an appeal to the 8th District Court, asking them to overturn her decision. In either case we'll be looking at several weeks or months before a decision is made by the superior court.

3. She could agree with David Boies (NFL's lead lawyer) that she has no jurisdiction and that she has no authority here. In that case the case would revert back to the NLRB (the NFL has a claim there right now that's winding it's glacial way through the system), and nothing will happen for an even longer period of time. I think this is extremely unlikely to happen. If it does I'm not sure of the options for the players. I don't think that they can appeal to the higher courts to get a decision, but I'm not a lawyer (I just play one on the internet). 


Any decision which drags out the lockout for even longer is one that's going to help the owners the most. They want the players to start feeling the affects of this in their pocketbooks. They want cracks to develop amongst the players that they can exploit.