Andrew will be here in a couple of minutes to take your questions!
Good to be with all of you. The timing is excellent, as last night was an important ruling for the owners in keeping the lockout through the appeals process. It tilts the leverage back their way, as we wait for the appeals process to be resolved in probably late June, early July. Let's open it up to questions.
I've heard conflicting reports on whether a Doty ruling can be appealed to the 8th Circuit. If Doty issues a large dollar amount ruling for the players can the owners appeal is decision to the St Louis court?
Yes. First off, the players are hoping for some leverage coming back to them through a large award through Judge Doty. But that ruling is appealable to the 8th Circuit. The timing of that is uncertain.
Does yesterday's ruling even the playign field or give leverage to the owners. Seems to me the owners still need the anti-turst protection a CBA gives so they need to be able to give as much as the players even though it appears the Appeals Court wil lruel for the owners.
It goest give leverage to the owners for this reason: the underlying case with Brady v. NFL probably sways toward the players. However, it would take several months, if not years before that case would ever hit the courtroom. That plus the all important factor of timing, the owners have an advantage. If they get the ruling from the appeals court consistent with the ruling last night, the lockout would continue indefinitely and the players would truly have to examine their options and strategies.
Andrwe, it's clear the owners strategy is to stretch this out, break the players?
The owners have stayed on message since March 11. That message has been, this is a labor dispute, for bargaining, not a litigation. They've maintained that message because they know the chances for the deal they want come through bargaining, not litigation. Now they have an appeals court that endorses their view and has put the element of time on their side. Again, if the appeals court rules for the owners, the players look to the horizon and see an indefinite lockout.
With their hope for a large damage award being their only consolation at this point.
Hey Andrew! Now that the District Court of Minnesota has ruled in favor of the NFL, will De Maurice finally take off his "Lawyer" hat and get back to good old fashion negotiation instead of litigation through the courts? I strongly believe we could have a deal in place already if this could have been kept out of the court room and at the negotiation table. The trade union formerly know as the NLFPA needs a business man who understands labor issues and can negotiate,- not a lawyer that stalls the process through litigation. Go Ravens!
That's a common sentiment. I understand why the NFLPA went to court and followed their gameplan of 20 years ago, to achieve more gains from litigation than negotiation. Now, that strategy has been challenged by the 8th Circuit Cout of Appeals. The Doty ruling could provide some tilt of leverage for the players. However, if the 8th Circuit is consistent with their ruling for the appeal, the players will have to make some decisions on their strategy, because the lockout will be blessed for an indefinite period.
What's the worst case scenario for the palyers at this point? Missing one season? Two?
I suppose the worst case scenario for the players is missing the 2011 season, potentially going through another draft and having two, not one, but two draft classes to potentially push out veteran players in 2012. Having said that, I think that scenario is very unlikely.
I think NFLPA leadership will be very purposeful in negotiating a new CBA prior to letting that happen.
What are the chances we get a deal resolved via the meetings the owners and players are now having? If a deal is made will the NFL and players be forced to withdraw from the pending legal conflicts?
First, on the mediation occurring today, There is some optimism, but the fact is that this is the last scheduled day of mediation. To hope for true progress in the last day of mediation is not good. The hope is they schedule further mediation. If and when a deal is negotiated, my sense is that it will include a comprehensive and global settlement of all pending legal actions and that the NFLPA would form as a union.
Is it possible to negotiate a non-lockout/strike cluase into a CBA?
Everything is negotiable. One point that ownership will try very hard to negotiate is that, unlike the present CBA, there is no judicial oversight from the present court system. Owners would like an independent arbitrator resolving player-league disputes. The Judge Doty oversight of this current CBA has been a thorn in the side of ownership for quite some time. The NFL will make it a priority to remove that oversight.
Can you explain to me why the NFL wouldn't want to play under 2010 rules? Those rules seem to greatly benefit them
The NFL was prepared to go forward with those rules, if the lockout was lifted. However, their strategy is to have no football in order to exert leverage towards a deal they would like. 20 years ago, football continued and owners paid players while in litigation. The NFL was very clear in their strategy that they did not want to go through that again. To answer your question, to the NFL, during litigation, no football is preferrable to the 2010 rules.
Simply put...will we have football this season or what? And if so will there be any games missed?
I'll preface the answer by saying that I've been the eternal optimist and have never believed in the gloom and doom. I think the best thing the last month has been the expedited appeals process. We now have a court date in June, where many in the legal community didn't think we'd see that unil November or December. With a decision on the appeal by late June or early July, we'll have plenty of time to resolve the dispute and get a settlement to have time for training camp. I think it's more likely than not that we'll have a 2011 season, albeit, with a hurried and harried free agency period and training camp.
When the original ruling happened, everyone said that it was appeal-proof, that the law was on the players' side. So how could there have been a temporary and now permanent stay?
I never believed any comments about Judge Nelson's opinion being appeal proof. It happens every day in this country that different legal minds and different judges look at the same facts in a different manner. Judge Nelson was emphatic that it belonged in her court. The 8th Circuit disagreed and said that injunctions in labor disputes should not be granted. At the end of the day, the players were confident with Judge Nelson, the owners were confident on appeal and both played out. Now we wait for the true appeal, which will likely confirm the stay.
What are your thoughts on this whole thing?
I've been following this for two years and have watched sporadic and inconsistent negotiations lead to a break down in communication and a lack of trust between the two sides. I'm not surprised that this is where we are, but I think we have not reached the point of economic harm where the two sides feel compelled to make a deal. However, I think that time is coming. The key at that point is both sides putting personal and emotional differences behind them toward reaching common gound. As I've said all along, this is not a hard deal to make. There's a deal to be made.
Do you think DeMaurice Smith is being too much of a litigator and not enough negotiator? Also, in light of many of his comments, do you think it will be possible for Smith to revert to an ambassador for the NFLPA once a new CBA is in place? Seems to me he is burning too many bridges with the owners AND the fans to be someone that can lead the NFLPA in times of "peace".
In March 2009, Smith was elected head of the NFLPA with a platform of an aggressive attitude toward ownership and he was not going to be chummy with the commissioner or owners. He was elected with a background in litigation and connections on Capital Hill. He had a strategy in mind of decertification and litigation. That strategy looked to be working, but now has suffered a set back. Based on everything I can tell, Smith still has support of NFLPA leadership and I have not seen cracks in that as of yet. Time will tell if that changes.
My final comment is this. We have a moment in time right now. We are two weeks from the appeal hearing on June 3 and we're close to a ruling from Judge Doty that could give the players a large award. Let's hope both sides realize there's a window here to try and make some progress in negotiations. We can only hope.
I enjoyed chatting. You can find me on <a href="http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/">NationalFootballPost.com</a>, on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/adbrandt">@ADBrandt</a> and across all ESPN platforms.