The On Again, Off Again NFL Lockout
The most financially lucrative professional sports organization in the United States has been brought to its knees by what else, a squabble over money. The NFL lockout will continue until at least June 3rd when the 8th Circuit Appeals court will hear from both sides in the dispute to determine whether the lockout remains in place or not.
Back in March the NFL Players Union and the National Football League and the owners failed to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, the main sticking point being $9 billion in up front revenues. The two sides could not agree how to divide this money among themselves. As the deadline for a decision came and went, the NFL/owners decided to lockout the players. The players in turn decertified their union and sued the NFL/owners claiming that their livelihoods and careers were being caused “irreparable harm” by the lockout.
There was a brief ray of hope on April 25th when U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson, the Minnesota-based judge overseeing the player’s lawsuit, issued an injunction stopping the lockout. The players showed up the next morning at their respective clubs looking to train and workout, while the NFL/owners appealed Judge Nelson’s ruling. Their appeal was denied two days later, and on April 28th the pageantry of the NFL Draft began.
Lost in all the arguments in the media between the two sides is the impact this is having on the average NFL player. Sure, the superstars of the league make countless millions and hopefully have set enough aside to survive a period of time without money coming in, but what about the average Joe’s of the league that don’t earn millions of dollars? How is the lockout affecting their ability to make mortgage payments, cover debts, and provide themselves and their families with medical insurance?
The players’ main argument in their lawsuit against the lockout is that their careers are suffering irreparable harm, but that doesn’t just mean their physical conditioning and football knowledge. Veteran players won’t forget the playbook all the sudden, nor will they forget how to throw a deep out. But under the terms of a lockout the NFL and players are separate entities.
This means that in addition to not receiving pay during the lockout, players also are not eligible for the benefits they collect during the season such as medical insurance. While the focus in the media is on the $9 billion in revenue the two sides are arguing about, this lockout is hurting players in a bigger way.
A tentative schedule is set up that could lead to the termination of the lockout. The 8th Circuit Appeals Court in St. Louis will hear the case on June 3rd. The NFL must submit a brief on May 9th, with the players set to respond to that with one of their own by May 20th. The NFL will in turn reply to the response by May 26th.
Until the lockout is settled, there is a lot more at stake for most players than how $9 billion is split up between two groups of millionaires.