Retired Players File Anti-Trust Suit Against the NFL

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 14: The exterior of the United States District Courthouse, Minneapolis Building is seen prior to NFL players filing a temporary injunction against a labor lockout on March 14, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The NFLPA filed for decertification on March 11 and will no longer be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the players allowing them to be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)

This comes to you courtesy of CByers:

According to Yahoo! Sports, four retired NFL players have filed an anti-trust suit against the NFL on top of the lawsuit already filed by the NFLPA. Hall of fame defensive end Carl Eller and pro bowl running back Priest Holmes were among the ex-players to file the suit in hopes of ending the lockout early.

Eller v. NFL, obtained by Yahoo! Sports, is similar to the current Brady, et al v. NFL. However, it is based on a potentially clever legal maneuver that could box the league into a corner and prove a significant development in ending pro football’s nearly month-long labor impasse.

Unlike the current players suit against the NFL, the retired players' suit against the NFL will cover draft-eligible prospects, who aren't currently covered by the NFLPA's suit. Because of this, the players could potentially sidestep the owners' argument that the NFLPA decertified illegally.

"The owners say the union has unlawfully decertified and the union should be ordered to reconstitute and forced to sit at the bargaining table," lead attorney Michael Hausfeld of the Washington D.C.-based Hausfeld LLC told Y! Sports. "If you look at the last CBA, it represents the rookies that have been drafted and the rookies who have begun negotiating with teams."

According the Hausfeld, the players are not covered under the current players' lawsuit against the NFL, but they are affected nonetheless.

"These players have an antitrust claim," Hausfeld said. "They’ve essentially staked the pursuit of a career on being eligible for the NFL.

"The owners have shut down their potential employees through a concerted boycott," Hausfeld continued. "[The suit is] going to avoid the main thrust of the owners’ defense and their argument that the matter should be settled by the [National Labor Relations Board] not in the courts."

Hausfeld calls the Eller case the crack in the NFL's armor and that if the case against the league were to be completed and they lose the case, the league could lose a lot, including the salary cap, the draft, free agency and more. Hausfeld believes that, at this point, it would be best for the NFL to make a deal with the players.

"We see something different," Hausfeld said. "[The NFL has] created more of a mess for themselves. If we can end the lockout and there is no union then they’re going to individually negotiate with every player and former player.

"This is basically the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. Hopefully it forces everyone to the table."

There is no question in my mind that every Cincy Jungle writer is going to need to attend law school in order to write about what is happening in court between the NFL and NFLPA right now. I don't know about you, but I barely understand it now.

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