A Ruling No One Will Like?

Well the hearing to lift the NFL lockout was held in St. Louis on Friday while we are waiting for a ruling to come from the 8th Circuit, we were left with something to ponder from one of the judges.

Before the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Kermit Bye urged both sides to come to an agreement on their own and told them that the court could very well deliver a ruling that neither side liked. Not being a lawyer, I had no idea what that could be.

Thankfully for me, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is/was a lawyer and he has come up with a theory as to what a ruling both sides wouldn’t like might entail.

Second, the Eighth Circuit would rule that the non-statutory antitrust exemption lasts for only six months after expiration of the CBA, given the specific term in the expired labor deal requiring the players to wait six months before filing an antitrust lawsuit. Given the Norris-LaGuardia Act, this wouldn’t end the lockout as of September 11, the day on which the first slate of Sunday games are due to be played. However, it would expose the NFL to treble damages beginning with Week One of the regular season, if the lockout ultimately is determined to be an antitrust violation as of September 11.

Thus, the owners would be able to lock the players out for all of the 2011 season, but the owners would ultimately be responsible for the full player payroll in 2011, times three. That’s an amount that easily would exceed $10 billion.

Check out Florio’s entire explanation over at PFT.

If Florio is right then a the ruling really wouldn’t give either side very much leverage. The NFL would have the slight advantage because they wouldn’t have to pay right away and the players probably couldn’t last an entire season without pay. That being said, if I was promised three times my salary for not working for a year, you can bet I’d be finding a couch to sleep on. While it is unlikely the players would take that route, it would be a scenario that I doubt the NFL would be willing to risk.

The writing for both sides has been on the wall for a few weeks now. It is time to make a deal and do it on their own. Unfortunately, both camps will probably wait for the courts ruling in hopes that a Hail Mary gets them the leverage they need. If that is going to be the case, let’s hope the 8th Circuit rules and rules quickly so we can put this mess behind us.

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