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Fan reaction: NFL lockout lifted, now what?
NFL fans and players may be cheering a federal judge's ruling April 25 the NFL lockout of players is illegal. The federal court ordered the lockout to stop immediately. In the case of Brady, et. al. v. NFL, Judge Susan Nelson sided with the players in stating the league was harming their careers and the possibilities of earning a living. She also stated what the owners already knew—lost seasons cause economic damage to the communities in which NFL teams play.
The NFL plans to appeal to the federal appeals court in St. Louis and will likely file a stay of execution, according to Fox Sports. That means the lockout may still be in place until the appeals court rules on the lower court's ruling. The Los Angeles Times reports owners feel the judge in the original case may be overstepping her bounds.
I'm no legal expert, but a judge in Minneapolis is hardly overstepping her bounds. An NFL team plays in her city. She can see the economic ramifications of the lockout firsthand. Federal mediation has gone nowhere and the National Labor Relations Board has been brought into the fight, so a federal court most certainly has authority when legal disputes arise.
The NFL has itself in a bind. The judge basically ruled it was too big to fail. As television networks, advertisers and stadium personnel all make money on the league, the lawsuit brought by the players was standing for everyone who is angry at the owners for allegedly being greedy.
ESPN argues this ruling against the league was a huge blow. It could bring an end to the owner's main bargaining tactic. Perhaps the NFL should consider how the case would be perceived if another entity had a labor stalemate. What if airline pilots were locked out of their jobs and they were going without paychecks? A lack of qualified pilots for commercial passenger jets would impact communities with airports to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The NFL is just like any other labor situation. Unlike 1987 when the league lost games, the economic ripple effect of a massive labor lockout of a $9 billion company would touch every aspect of American life. Yes, it's just football. But it's also big business.
So what happens now? Players still wait. The lockout may still be on depending upon if the original judge grants the stay April 26. The lockout may be back on the federal court of appeals strikes down Judge Nelson's argument for the players.
The NFL owners should try to have the case moved to a federal court in a city without an NFL team. Both Minneapolis and St. Louis have franchises. Los Angeles would be a good place for a change of venue—they haven't had the NFL in over 10 years.
If there is an appeal after a panel of judges renders a verdict in St. Louis, the U.S. Supreme Court would be the next step. Let's all hope the nine justices have season tickets to the Washington Redskins.
William Browning is a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs after latching on to the team during the lean years of St. Louis football. Born in St. Louis, he is also a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. He currently resides in Branson, Mo.
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