The NFL owners case for continuing the lockout is beginning to unfold.
It sounds as shaky as the original argument that convinced U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in Minneapolis to issue an injunction lifting the lockout on April 25. But then the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis issued a temporary hold of that order a few days later, which effectively stopped the NFL players from working again.
On Monday, lawyers for the NFL owners filed court papers that said lifting the labor lockout without a new contract in place would open the door for the richer teams to get better, which would damage the league. What they are saying is that the richest owners will break ranks and spend out of control if the lockout ends before a labor agreement is reached between the players and the owners.
That would severely hinder what this whole labor strife is really about. The owners, of course, want a larger share of the revenue and they would like to see the 16-game regular season schedule expanded by two games.
The NFL players, who have decertified their union, want no parts of either. An appeal hearing has been set for June 3 to hear the league’s appeal of Nelson’s ruling.
The billionaire owners, meanwhile, come out looking like the greedy ones in this whole mess that threatens the start of the 2011 season. They are arguing that Nelson overstepped her jurisdiction by lifting the lockout and that she should have waited for a decision by the National Labor Relations Board before making her ruling. They also have issue with the NFL Union’s decision to decertify, insisting the players are still very much organized instead of a few select players taking up the cause.
The players' argument, led by quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, that the lockout is causing irreparable harm to their already short careers is certainly a stretch. But it resonates more with the fan than billionaires insisting they aren’t making enough money anymore despite lucrative stadium deals, consistently sold out venues and one of the richest television contracts in all of sports.
(Photo: Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)