Ever since Judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout yesterday there has been absolute confusion and chaos in the NFL.
The language in Nelson’s ruling is clear. She declares the lockout over. All day, players have been trying to enter their team facilities to workout and they have been having varying degrees of success. In most cases, players could enter the team facility but were denied access to the weight room. In some cases, players were refused entry completely.
The NFL appears to be somewhat reluctantly keeping to the status quo here. They don’t seem to want to make any moves until they get clarification from Nelson on what exactly her ruling means and if she will grant them a stay pending appeal.
The NFLP* doesn’t see it that way. They believe the language in Nelson’s ruling means the lockout is over right now and that the new league year has officially begun. In their eyes, any attempt by the NFL to not open for business would put them in contempt of court and any move to collectively refuse to negotiate or sign free agents would make them guilty of collusion.
As such, they are telling any player set to be a free agent when the 2011 league year begins, to start shopping themselves. Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post has obtained a memo the NFLPA leadership sent to it’s members which confirms the claim.
Judge Nelson’s order is in effect as of 6 p.m. EDT on April 25, 2011, and unless and until that order is stayed, the clubs are NOT allowed to refuse to negotiate with you. If they do refuse, you should contact Class Counsel immediately (contact information is listed below.) The NFL must put in place a free agency system that complies with the antitrust laws.”
And one more interesting bit from Volin:
From local agent David Canter, who represents three Dolphins:
“Spent last 1 to 2 hours contacting teams about my free agents via text message. 0 responses. Can you say collusion?”
The NFL is likely to keep dragging their heels until the hear once again from Nelson but they could be doing so at their own peril. If Nelson feels the NFL is ignoring her ruling they could be in hot water. Expect the players to keep the heat on the NFL by trying to show up for work and by shopping themselves to perspective teams.