Friday, March 11, 2011

Brady Bunch Moves For Injunction to Block Lockout

Ten players, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, seeking to prevent the owners from locking the players out. The players filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court immediately following decertification. The other players named in the lawsuit are Vincent Jackson, Ben Leber, Logan Mankins, Brian Robison, Osi Umenyiora, Mike Vrabel and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.

The players are seeking to block the league from locking out the players at midnight. (Click here for primer on decertification).

The strategy all along for the Union after decertification was to seek the injunction to block the lockout. The reasoning is that with the Union no longer bargaining on behalf of the players, the NFL teams can't get together, in the absence of a CBA, and impose restrictions on the players. That would be an anti-trust violation.

So the plan is to block a lockout, have the players play in the fall, all the while negotiating a new deal.

The NFL has other ideas though. It will want to lockout the players. It also wants to argue that decertification is a "sham". Don't forget the NFL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the NFL Players Association. In the complaint, it alleged that the NFLPA did not bargain in good faith as a result of its strategy to "disclaim interest" (or decertify) and file antitrust litigation against the NFL following expiration of the CBA.

The league's complaint refers to the NFLPA's past use of decertification and the fact that the Union later reformed. To that end, the complaint states: "The NFLPA's threat to use a sham disclaimer of interest after expiration of the CBA is the same tactic that it employed in 1989 when its representatives falsely swore that its disclaimer was 'permanent.'

The NFLPA is arguing that as part of the settlement of the 1993 anti-trust lawsuit, the NFL waived the right to argue that decertification is a sham.

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