In a shocking turn of events (sarcasm alert), the NFL and the former players union don't agree.
This time, at issue is what Judge Susan Richard Nelson's ruling on Monday afternoon means. While Nelson ordered the NFL to lift the lockout of its players, the NFL is telling teams that until the situation is clarified they should operate as if the lockout is still in effect, according to what Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the group formerly known as the NFL Players Association doesn't agree.
"This decision requires the NFL to end the lockout," the Class Counsel for the players stated in a memo to players and agents, according to the National Football Post. "This means that, unless or until Judge Nelson or the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issues an order ‘staying' (delaying) the injunction, the owners have to end the lockout immediately, as of the time the order was issued, which was 6 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 25, 2011. The NFL filed an order requesting a stay (delay) of the injunction the evening of April 25, and Judge Nelson will consider the NFL's request.
"The Players response to the NFL's request is due at 9 a.m. CDT on April 26, 2011. Unless and until Judge Nelson issues an order granting the NFL's request to stay (delay) the injunction, the lockout remains lifted. We will keep you updated on the Judge's ruling on the stay motion."
At the NFL's instruction, the Vikings are operating as if the lockout is still on. While they allowed linebacker Erin Henderson into the facility, they didn't let him use the cold tub, he told reporters after spending about 40 minutes at the facility Tuesday morning. The NFL advised teams to allow players into their buildings Tuesday, but didn't want them working out.
"From what we understand, everything is status quo. We have not heard anything different and not been instructed by the NFL on anything different than what it's been from a business standpoint," Spielman said. "So we'll continue to abide by all of those rules."
When the NFLPA filed to decertify the union and the NFL followed by locking out the players, it put an end to free agency and trade possibilities before they were able to begin. That was almost seven weeks ago, and it means that teams will likely head into the draft on Thursday night without having the opportunity to add veteran talent to their roster to fill needs.
"We were put in a status-quo situation," Spielman said. "We're just going along with what the league is telling us to do."
Player representative had a different view, stating that free agency should be in full swing since Nelson's decision on Monday.
"Unless and until Judge Nelson or the Court of Appeals issues another order, the lockout has been ordered to end immediately, and if the NFL does not comply, it would be in contempt of the court order," the memo states. "So, until you hear otherwise, if you are not under contract, Class Counsel believes that you and your agent can contact teams and shop your services to the clubs.
"Judge Nelson's order is in effect as of 6 p.m. EDT on April 25, 2011, and unless and until that order is stayed, the clubs are not allowed to refuse to negotiate with you. If they do refuse, you should contact Class Counsel immediately … The NFL must put in place a free agency system that complies with the antitrust laws."
With the NFL's request to stay (delay) the injunction on the lockout, Nelson has requested further arguments from both sides and could make a decision in the coming days. But until that happens, it appears both sides will have differing views on what it means right now.
"I know the Minnesota Vikings are going to stay far away from that bright line and are going to follow the rules accordingly, and we're not going to go anywhere near trying to do something that is not right," Spielman said.
But who is right is up for debate.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings ‘status quo,' former union disagrees
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