MIAMI GARDENS, FL - MARCH 03: A view of Sun Life Stadium behind a locked gate as the NFL lockout looms on March 3, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Here are some quick updates on lockout related proceedings as we await a series of court rulings:
- Recently the Sports Business Journal reported that 70 "mid-tier" players were looking to hire their own representation in the labor negotiations beyond the players' antitrust suit filed against the NFL. The story exacerbated grumblings about fracturing within the trade association, leading some to speculate that the players were beginning to "crack." As it turns out, the report by SBJ was true, although the actual number of players seeking alternate representation questioned as overblown. However, if these mid-level players want representation it won't be with their firm of choice, as the NFL has rejected a conflict-of-interest waiver by Barnes & Thornburg of Indianapolis because "one of its partners represents the league in music licensing for shows on NFL Network and NFL Films." I'm sure that was a hard call for the league to make.
- In a court filing on Thursday, the league claimed that players don't deserve to be awarded damages in the "lockout insurance" fiasco where the league negotiated television contracts that provided them revenue in the event of a lockout. The players are seeking the remainder of maximized contract money that may have been left on the table in favor of the insurance clause, but the league is rebutting that there's no evidence any more money could have been received from the networks, and that since the players were already awarded $6.9 million in damages they have no current claim. On May 12, Judge David Doty will begin determining whether the players are entitled to anything more.
- The league has yet to set a date for deciding if games will need to be canceled if the lockout persists.
"We don't have a date by which the season is lost, or a date by which we have to move from 16 games to some other [number]," Eric Grubman, the league's executive vice president for business operations, said Friday at a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors. "Our intentions are to play a full season, and we will pull every lever that we can within the flexibility we have or can identify to make that happen."
If it proves necessary, the league has come up with a contingency plan for keeping a full season by moving the date of the Super Bowl and eliminating bye weeks. Nothing can really be determined, of course, until the labor dispute is resolved, but when that happens the league will need to quickly get operations up-and-running and decide what training camps and the preseason will look like. Also, if the start of the season (now scheduled for September 8) is delayed, then the league stands to lose some valuable emotional PR in pushing back the first Sunday of football from September 11, the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Sad.
Now go enjoy some family or baseball or basketball or marshmallow Peeps time.