Legal Kickoff …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

“It seems to me both sides are at risk and now is a good time to come back to the table.”

Those were among the final words spoken on Wednesday during a five-hour hearing on the legality of the NFL’s lockout of the players. They were uttered by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson and among all the thousands of words that were part of presentations and arguments, few were more on the mark.

Among those in the courtroom at the Warren Burger Federal Building was Chiefs OLB Mike Vrabel (right).

If there were any doubts Judge Nelson understands the volatility of the situation between owners and players, her closing comments should end any questions.

In telling the parties that she’ll take “a couple of weeks” to rule on the players’ request for an injunction to end the lockout, Judge Nelson urged them to return to the negotiating table. In fact, she offered to facilitate the resumption of mediated discussions under the auspices of the court, rather than the Federal Mediation Service.

A great suggestion from the Judge and predictably the two sides wouldn’t agree to the suggestion. Attorneys for the players said they would listen to the recommendation, while the legal suits for the owners indicated they wanted not a settlement of the players’ lawsuit, but a collective bargaining agreement.

Naturally, the NFL disagrees with this notion.

“Our basic position, as it has been, is that these kind of matters ought to be settled at the collective bargaining table, and not at a federal court,” David Boies, attorney for the NFL, said. “We’ve asked the court to deny the injunction that the players’ association has asked for.”

So yes, the hearing brought about one conclusion – the two sides continue to entrench themselves in their specific arguments with no evidence of compromise or give being shown anywhere.

WHAT WAS ARGUED? – Players want the Judge to grant an injunction to stop the league’s lockout. The league argued that the decertification of the players union was a sham and thus their complaint against the players should be heard by the National Labor Relations Board. A lot of the hearing was Boies arguing that the court had no jurisdiction because of the complaint the league filed against the players with the NLRB. The league wants the NLRB to rule that the players’ union decertification was evidence they did not negotiate in good faith.

WHO DID MOST OF THE TALKING? – That was the NFL’s new attorney for this case – Boies. He’s one of those hot shot Washington lawyers who has made millions of dollars and headlines for high visibility cases.

WHO ASKED MOST OF THE QUESTIONS? – Judge Nelson, who tried hard to put some legal understanding to the argument that she had no jurisdiction in the labor dispute.


WHAT’S THE TIMETABLE FOR NELSON TO MAKE A DECISION? She told those in court that she would need several weeks to

WHO WAS IN THE COURTROOM? Chiefs OLB Mike Vrabel, former Chiefs FB Tony Richardson, San Diego WR Vincent Jackson, Minnesota LB Ben Lever and DE Brian Robison, Pittsburgh QB Charlie Batch and soon to be first-round draft choice, LB Von Miller. The former union’s executive director DeMaurice Smith was in the courtroom as well.

WHO WASN’T THERE? Missing were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, chief negotiator Jeff Pasch and the big names attached to the players lawsuit against the league – Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and others.

WHAT’S NEXT? Everybody goes into the hurry up and wait mode for Nelson’s decision to become public.

One Response to “Legal Kickoff …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 9, 2011  - txchief says:

    Maybe Vrabel could get a construction job building Tom Brady’s new digs in Brentwood after he finishes his probation.

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