UnlessÂ you’ve been living under a rock or in a tornado bunker like we haveÂ recently you know the NFL lockout has dragged on far too long. Â Day 83 to be exact.
So if you’ve finally comeÂ out of yourÂ shelterÂ or been ignoring all the legal drama, here’s the football CliffsNotes version of what’s played out.
First down: Negotiate.
Both sides have been negotiating behind the scenes for over two years since the owners unanimously voted to exercise their opt-out clause on May 20, 2008. Â Owners contend that they are losing money in this current CBA structure. Â Specifically, they are not happy with the way revenues are being splitÂ roughly 60-40 in favor of the players.
The 2010 season starts without a salary cap and both sides continue to negotiate key CBA issues throughout the league year: the possibility of an 18-game season, rookie salary cap, pension for retired players, and most of all, how to share the $9B revenue pot of gold.
Results: Lots of back and forth with no forward progress.
Second and 10: Litigate.
On January 18, 2011 the NFLPA files a collusion law suit against the owners for setting up TV network contracts which would pay the league $4B even if season’s games are missed. Â Players accuse the them of using these funds as lockout insurance and not bargaining in good faith.
Results: EvenÂ more distrust and lose even further ground.
Now it’s third and long: Mediate.
After many frustrating attempts to reach an amicable and fair agreement both DeMaurice Smith (NFLPA Executive Director) and Roger Goodell (NFL Commissioner) decide to bring in federal mediator, George Cohen. (February 17)
Both sides meet separately with Mr. Cohen and face-to-face over a period of two weeks. Â They are ordered to keep proceedings quiet,Â â€œWe pledged confidentiality.â€ Roger Goodell says.
It is now March 11.Â The already twice extended CBA deadline came and without a deal hammered out the NFLPA decertified as a union and filed an anti-trust law suit against the owners in Minneapolis, MN.
The very next day the owners react by locking out the players.
Fourth down and…
Oh, what the heck. Â Lather, rinse, and repeat downs one through three:
Judge Susan Nelson begins to hear arguments on April 6 and also ordersÂ negotiations between both sides in front of Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.
There’s moreÂ litigation via an injunction to lift the lockout in Judge Susan Nelson’s court. Â And on April 25 the players receive a favorable decision.
The lockout is lifted on April 27, a day before the NFL draft. Â Things are looking up for the players and the fans while Judge Susan becomes more famous than Judge Judy in the football world.
But hold on, the owners file an appeal with the 8th Circuit Court and with a vote of 2-1 the league gets a temporary stay. Â The lockout is back on two days later during the second round of the draft. Â What timing!
Welcome rookie! Â Here’s your hat and jersey. Â Let’s fly you to Rams Park in St. Louis to take some pictures and then we’re going to lock you out. Â Sorry, can’t give you a playbook but we’ll see ya when it’s all over.
Fast forward three weeks when another round of mediations are overseen by Judge Boylan with similar non-developments.Â These take place May 16-17.Â Â At the same time the 8th Circuit Court reaffirms their position by issuing a permanent stay on the injunction.
Now the lockout is in effect throughout the appeals process. Â Momentum swings to the owners.
2 Minute Warning
It’s two days before the big appeals hearing and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune happens to be staking out the Dupage Airport just outside of Chicago.
He finds a private jet with the familiar Dallas star logo. Â Hmmm…
After the smoke clears it’s reported that key members of both sides conducted a secret meeting. Â Apparently, so secretative that other owners were not aware it was taking place.
In attendance were Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA’s DeMaurice Smith, NFL owners Robert Kraft (Patriots), Jerry Richardson (Panthers), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), John Mara (Giants), and Art Rooney(Steelers). Â From the players side: Kevin Mawae, Tony Richardson, Mike Vrabel, and Jeff Saturday.
Reports also have court appointed mediator Judge Arthur Boylan present as well.
This statement was released jointly:
The parties met pursuant to court mediation.Â Owners and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan.Â The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions.
Mums the word on exactly what happened during the three days of meetings but you have to feel some hope this was a step in the right direction.Â So hopeful that Magistrate Boylan cancelled next week’s scheduled mediations.
The Hour of Power is set for June 3, 2011 at 10am in the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.Â Â Lead counsels Theodore Olson and Paul Clement will have 30 minutes to present their arguments to Judges Colloton, Bye, and Benton.
Could Friday’s hearing be the beginning of the miracle we fans have been praying for?