NFL lockout begins

The NFL lockout inched closer to reality as the players and team owners failed to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement to save the 2011 season.
The NFL Players Association decertified as a union and said that it will become a professional trade association.
That allowed the players to file an antitrust suit against the league and let the court decide the future of the NFL.
The complaint reads: “The NFL has a long history of violating federal antitrust law in an effort to minimize its labor costs.”
Among the plaintiffs of the antitrust suit were the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady. The players accuse the owners of colluding to force an NFL lockout.
“The owners’ collective purpose in imposing the ‘lockout’ is to force the non-unionized NFL players to agree to the massive wage reductions and anticompetitive restrictions, which the NFL defendants are seeking from the players” – the filing stated.
Team owners and the players union were at odds over the sharing of the league’s nine billion revenue per year. The union said financial documents were withheld from them while owners said the union intended to go to court all this time.

NFL lockout begins
NFL lockout.

Death is inevitable but it doesn’t make the actual event any less depressing when it happens to something you love. The NFL lockout (which has seemed inevitable for months) has finally arrived and NFL business has ceased to be. The league’s owners locked out their players at midnight Friday, hours after the NFL Players Association decided to decertify, meaning that all players are now non-union employees. To block a lockout, 10 players, such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, filed a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the league. “We are locked out” – union president and former player Kevin Mawae said in a text message to The Associated Press. “We were informed (early Saturday morning) that players are no longer welcome at team facilities.”
It’s March, but instead of free agents and trades, NFL news will now cover a lot of litigation. Exciting! There are a lot of different avenues this divorce could take and not all of them are easily comprehended by the common fan. For now – just know that the NFL is at the beginning of its first work stoppage in 24 years. It’s a dark day and a dawn may be a long way over the horizon. Fantasy advice? Carry on as if there will be a fantasy game to actually play this fall. I don’t think fantasy players need to panic about a current lockout’s possible impact on their game until July, when teams are scheduled to open training camps.

Decertifying the NFL Players Association enabled the players to file antitrust litigation against the owners (which they did late Friday) with superstar quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees among the 10 named plaintiffs. Lawyers for the players also announced that they are seeking an injunction to lift the lockout.
The case is likely to end up before Minneapolis-based U.S. District Judge David S. Doty, who has overseen the NFL’s labor pact since 1993.
It is not clear when a judge will act on the injunction request, but a union official said it probably would not be for three or four weeks.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in brief remarks that the union had ‘walked away’ from the mediated talks, which he described as the “fairest and fastest” way of resolving the dispute.
“They’ve chosen to pursue another strategy, and that is their choice” – Goodell said. He predicted, however, that the issues eventually would be resolved at the bargaining table. John Mara, co-owner of the New York Giants, was harsher in tone, criticizing the NFLPA for refusing to alter its position on key issues. “Their position has quite literally been ‘take it or leave it’ ” – Mara said.
The union’s executive director (DeMaurice Smith) said as he left the talks at about 4:40 p.m. that the union had given owners until 5 p.m. to turn over 10 years’ worth of audited financial records needed, the union contends, to verify claims that the current financial arrangement is untenable. The owners did not comply.
“I’m sad for our fans” – Smith told reporters later. “I’m sad for our players . . . [but] I’m proud of the [players] who have devoted themselves to be leaders.” He said the league’s contention that the union was more interested in litigation than negotiation all along “flies in the face of reason, flies in the face of facts and is simply untrue.”

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