The wake of Judge Susan Nelson’s granting of a temporary injunction has essentially plunged the entire NFL schedule into chaos. The real problem is that without a set of rules in place, there is no guiding principle behind what the NFL can and can’t do. Roger Goodell, shockingly, has taken to trying to find a new scapegoat by penning a Wall Street Journal column in which he argues that a union victory will destroy the game:
A union victory threatens to overturn the carefully constructed system of competitive balance that makes NFL games and championship races so unpredictable and exciting.
Boy, sounds like a bad thing, when you say it like that, doesn’t it? Maybe you shouldn’t have tried to break the union with the cooperation of your fellow fat cats and just tried to stay happy about making money in an era where everyone is losing it?
Unfortunately, the competitive balance issue is likely to be a big part of the NFL’s requests for a stay of the injunction, and Steph Stradley points out the pros and cons of that:
Ultimately, the NFL has become the most popular sport in America because the NFL and labor agreed on work rules that keep a relatively even playing field. This litigation is good for nobody but the lawyers working on it. Do we want the courts put in the position of being stewards of the game, or should the sides find a resolution that is win-win (or painful-painful as resolutions sometimes are)?
A negotiated settlement is hard at this point because of egos involved and losses already incurred by both sides. Sometimes litigation parties continue to put good money after bad because they committed to a particular litigation strategy and decide to follow it to the bitter end. Litigation often results in unintended, bad consequences.
That may just be what happens here: a weaker NFL brought about by a terrible decision to go for the throat of the players. If it is, the owners will have no one to blame but themselves.
On a more micro level, here are some answers to commonly asked questions:
Will players be able to report to team facilities today?
Yes. Although the NFL is not allowing players to use weight rooms or speak with coaches, players may return to the facility today. Some of the player representatives for the respective teams have told the players not to report. Eric Winston has said that he will go to the Texans’ facilities to pick up some cleats he’d left behind.
Can teams trade players?
According to Adam Schefter, the NFL is not allowing trades to happen yet. The NFLPA says that trades can happen. Neither side will actually know until the litigation continues, but it looks like the answer is no for now, and probably will remain no through the NFL Draft.
Stay tuned, as we will break more news as it comes in. SB Naiton’s NFL lockout stream is the best place to get the latest news on what is happening today.