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8th Circuit Court: NFL Lockout Legal, But Rookies/Un-Signed Players Exempt

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The tone of the ongoing meetings between the players and owners could take an interesting turn after a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court today. Although it’s expected that the owners will not attempts to force negotiations with this new found leverage.

They ruled to maintain the current lockout and that it is in fact legal. The court would not intervene on the players’ behalf in the Brady v. NFL lawsuit.

"The League and the players’ union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement for almost eighteen years prior to March 2011. They were engaged in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for approximately two years through March 11, 2011. At that point, the parties were involved in a classic “labor dispute” by the Players’ own definition. Then, on a single day, just hours before the CBA’s expiration, the union discontinued collective bargaining and disclaimed its status, and the Players filed this action seeking relief concerning industry-wide terms and conditions of employment. Whatever the effect of the union’s disclaimer on the League’s immunity from antitrust liability, the labor dispute did not suddenly disappear just because the Players elected to pursue the dispute through antitrust litigation rather than collective bargaining. – 8th Circuit Court"

At first glance it appears to be a win for the players, but in actuality the ruling only stokes the negotiating fires as there is now an even bigger sense of urgency to get a deal in place.

While the court ruled the lockout to stay in place it did not include rookies and un-signed free agents to be a part of it, because there’s no defined working relationship under the current terms of negotiations.

Essentially rookies just got the green light to sign with teams, as did free agents with no home, the only problem is teams still don’t know the details of the new salary cap or the expected rookie wage scale said to accompany the new CBA.

In the meantime it shouldn’t stop these players from reporting to team headquarters, so they can start working with their new coaches as they attempt to learn offensive and defensive schemes in the NFL.

Free agents can also start the process of speaking with interested teams, which could expedite the signing process.

Now with the expected chaos that is to ensue from the courts ruling players and owners will get back to getting a deal done expeditiously.

Also the expected target date of July 15th, the absolute latest date the league can get back to work and not affect the preseason, is rapidly approaching. No one wants to lose the type of money that is expected to be lost shall the preseason be delayed.

Related: 2011 CBA: Cowboys Training Camp A Positive; NFL Vets Lawsuit A Negative, 2011 NFL Lockout: July 15th A Target For Resuming Football Operations, New Orleans Saints: June 3rd, 707 Million, And The Coaches.

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