The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that the NFL owners are legally entitled to lockout their players.We know it’s been a long time since anyone talked about the 8th Circuit and you’ve probably forgotten what the heck is going on in NFL lockout, so here’s a quick recap.
The NFL locked out the players in March. The players sued. In April, Judge Susan Nelson ruled that the lockout was illegal and issued an injunction against the NFL. The lockout was over for about a week. Then the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked that injunction, while they considered the arguments. The lockout was back in effect and has been ever since.
Now, today, they’ve finally ruled: The lockout is a legal manoeuvre and can continue as is.
It was a 2-1 decision by the three judges. You can read the full 54-page decision here.
So, in practical terms, nothing has changed. In “political” terms, it maybe means that the players’ legal strategy is highly flawed and unlikely to succeed in the long term. Or it may not. No one really knows.
The ruling itself is not a surprise. (Ever since the Appeals Court issued the temporary stay of the injunction, it seemed obvious that they would eventually make it permanent.) However, the timing is curious. Observers assumed that because negotiations between the owners and players were progressing and friendly again, there was no need for the court to announce their ruling. Let them solve it themselves.
But that went out the window and the owners just got a nice boost to their leverage. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the judges showing off their power/knowledge.
The truth is — as it has been since the whole nightmare began — is that no one knows exactly how close the two sides are on a split of football revenue (the entire key to the whole CBA) and until that is solved, the lockout will continue forever.
In other words, nothing has changed today.
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