Lockout or Football? The Waiting Game Continues

Another ruling in the ongoing legal battle to determine whether the NFL players can actually play football or the league can continue to lock them out is expected this week and possibly as early as today.

DeMaurice Smith at Rookie Debut Celebration
NFLPA Chief DeMaurice Smith

The NFL, in its 18 page brief filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, attempts to persuade the court that a permanent stay of the injunction granted to the players in Minnesota which ended the lockout is the proper legal action.  The league argues that the authority to decide the lockout issue rests with the National Labor Relations Board and not with U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

Last Monday, Judge Susan Nelson granted the players’ request for an injunction and enjoined the lockout. Wednesday, Nelson rejected the NFL’s request for a stay of that injunction pending its appeal to the 8th Circuit. The NFL then turned to the 8th Circuit and asked them to stay Nelson’s injunction while they considered the appeal of her decision. The 8th Circuit still has not technically granted the stay the NFL seeks, merely an administrative stay that will put things on hold until they decide whether a stay is truly warranted.

After Nelson’s second ruling last week, the NFL announced that it would allow teams to open facilities last Friday and begin football-related activities. That access was short lived and the NFL retracted its position once the temporary stay was issued.  Once again the doors to those facilities were closed and the players were locked out.

“The focus should be on the players who want to play and the fans that want to see them play,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told ProPlayerInsiders.com. “Let us play.”

Apparently that’s what football fans want too. Television ratings for Thursday night’s first round were down sharply from last year, with ESPN’s coverage down over 17 percent and coverage for the later rounds was down by about 28 percent.

Fans also showed their displeasure by loudly booing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell every time he approached the podium through each of the first 32 draft picks in round one.  Goodell was also greeted by fans chanting, “we want football”, to which he responded by saying, “I hear you.  I do, too.” Maybe he should tell the owners his opinion as they continue to take legal actions to keep the lockout in place.

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