Just as the NFLPA was briefing the plaintiffs involved the antitrust lawsuit about potentially settling the suit in court Friday to allow the finalization of a new CBA, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals through a wrench into the negotiations on Friday morning. Per a report on ESPN.com:
The appellate court ruled on an April 25 decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who put the lockout on hold after players argued they were suffering irreparable harm. The appeals court put that order on hold and its final decision said Nelson ignored federal law in reaching her decision.
The court’s decision came while commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith started a second straight day of negotiations aimed toward resolving the lockout.
This could be meaningless. It’s possible the owners and players, who have been negotiating feverishly to try and finalize a deal before Judge Arthur Boylan (who has been leading negotiations) leaves for vacation tomorrow morning may ignore the ruling and try to finalize a deal. But the flip-side is this strengthens the owners position, and you don’t get to be a billionaire owner of a football team without learning to step on a few necks. If the owners smell blood, look for negotiations to unravel.
A lot is still uncertain at this point, but this ruling comes at a really bad time in the negotiations. My original impression of the court’s decision to take a couple of months to rule was that they wanted the NFL to try and work this out on its own. But that doesn’t exactly mesh with the timing of this ruling. We’ll keep you posted as more develops.