Court hearing crucial to 2011 NFL season
Wednesday, April 6, has been circled on the NFL calendar since the NFL owners locked out the players on March 12.
It’s the biggest day of the month for both parties. It could be more crucial to the season than the draft which runs April 28-30.
Wednesday U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson, in her Minnesota court room, will preside over a hearing on whether to issue an injunction to stop the NFL lockout.
Her decision could play a major factor in whether there will be an NFL season come September.
While NFL fans will be hanging on to the edge of their seats, she won’t necessarily announce her decision on Wednesday after both sides present their cases. She could make an immediate ruling or could take a few weeks.
Lester Munson, a Chicago lawyer and legal analyst for ESPN, expects her to issue the injunction. He wrote: “Injunctions are granted only in compelling circumstances, and they are extremely rare in antitrust cases. But, even in a court system that is reluctant to issue injunctions, the players have a powerful and persuasive argument. There is little doubt that the NFL is using its monopoly power to extract concessions from the players. There is little doubt that the decertification is real and will be upheld. And there is little doubt that the loss of an entire season is a serious and irreparable harm to the NFL’s 1,700 players.’’
No matter what her decision, the losing side will appeal and that is a process that could take us to early summer.
Although certainly during that time the owners and players could return to the bargaining table, nothing would be stopping them. In fact, nothing is stopping them now it seems except pride and pig-headedness from both sides. Fans don’t seem to have much sympathy for two sides who are trying to divvy up $9 billion in annual revenue. The numbers are so astronomical it just doesn’t seem to make sense that they can’t find common ground.
One tidbit of good news -- although we may be reading too much into it -- is that the Green Bay Packers president told season ticket holders this week to expect the season to open with a home game on Thursday, Sept. 8. We’ll see.
It’s up to the judge.
If Nelson issues the injunction and stops the lockout it will be a win for the players. If she doesn’t, the owners will gain more leverage.
Both sides have had their PR machines spinning at full tilt since March 12.
The spin will stop in Nelson’s court room.
(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Read her Lions Lowdown blog at TheOaklandPress.com.)