Well with a late afternoon ruling yesterday, Judge Nelson threw the NFL world into disarray as everyone scrambled to figure out what was next. Apparently, the only thing certain at this point is the schedule that she has set for parties to file their briefs.
Judge Nelson has allowed the NFLPA until 9 am on Wednesday to file their response. With the players claiming that the NFL League Year needs to start ASAP, the Judge has allowed the league until 5 pm to respond.
So is the ruling going to be stayed pending appeal? Given the magnitude of the case and the sheer potential for chaos that would result if the ruling is not stayed, I think that we can expect a short stay and a relatively quick review and ruling.
In the event that the ruling is not stayed, the amount of disruption heading into the draft will be astronomical in the context of the NFL labor dispute.
You will have the prospect of free agency and the draft occurring simultaneously. You will have a complete free-for-all as teams struggle to figure out what they are able to do while they are trying to sift through the drafting process.
NFL war rooms have to almost be creating a separate task force to deal with these issues if the situation is not clarified.
As of this time, the following items appear to be unanswered:
- Can players report? Some did. Many did not. Most were not allowed in. Many teams gave their strength and conditioning staff the day off.
- Are the teams required to allow them in? No. Until there is some clarification on the ruling, the teams’ position appears to be that the players will not be allowed in. Teams have liability concerns but they may have greater antitrust concerns if they continue to prevent players from gaining access after Thursday.
- Will players earn their workout or reporting bonuses? Unclear. But those with large bonuses due are the ones most likely to report.
- Is there free agency? Not at this time. Could change by Thursday.
- Can teams talk to players? Might be able to. Probably won’t agree to.
- Can agents talk to teams? Can try. Teams unlikely to take calls.
Look for the confusion to be sorted out sometime on Thursday as all parties desire to have a positive spin going into the draft. Call it a 72 cease fire on the attacks.
And then the battle will resume next Monday morning.