Representatives for the owners and players broke away from collective bargaining negotiations for the weekend. While they continue with long sessions, there is no significant progress being reported.
If fans were football players, what took place Friday could well be a considered a "high-low" tackle, as a pair of potential deal-breaking days took place simultaneously – one in New York City and one in St. Louis.
It was widely believed that a decision by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals would give one side or the other some clear leverage in the negotiation process. The appellate court ruled 2-1 Friday that the lockout can remain in place until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached.
At the same time, a second straight marathon session made little to no progress. Owners and the players association met for 10 hours Friday, following a 12-hour negotiating session Thursday with no significant headway being reported, as both sides stick to their guns on what they believe to be core issues of a resolution.
No official talks, if there is such a thing as "official talks" in the travelling road show that negotiations have become, are scheduled for the weekend. However, word from both sides is that attorneys will continue to tighten up acceptable language to get a framework of the CBA puzzle in place. The two sides' legal teams are scheduled to meet Monday, with players and owners joining in on Tuesday.
With the July 15 deadline quickly approaching to have what would be viewed as a "normal" season taking place, the decision of the appeals court siding with ownership would seem to give the owners the hammer in negotiations. However, it should be noted that NFL veteran players are paid in pro-rated weekly checks during the regular season. Since the majority of players are under contract, having a contracted preseason schedule isn't a real enticement. Players as a general rule hate training camp, so the motivation may not be there for an immediate resolution.
Under the revenue-sharing policies of the NFL, teams keep the money they generate in their two home preseason games without having to help the Little Sister of the Poor franchises likes the Vikings. As Randy Moss
would say, preseason revenue is "straight cash, homey."
Friday's action in St. Louis and lack of it in New York has the negotiating rope pretty taut heading into the weekend. With no resolution immediately in sight, the last hurdle between the players, owners and the 2011 season may be a daunting one.
In the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, it allowed the players' antitrust lawsuit to move forward, which means that, if the case moves forward and the owners lose, they could face treble damage liability, which could allow the court to as much as triple any award players may receive. It declined to rule on the legality of owners locking out unsigned players. By doing so, unrestricted free agents and rookies can file for an injunction in U.S. District Court Susan Richard Nelson's court – she is the same judge who ruled that the lockout be lifted on draft weekend. Given her last ruling, stating irreparable harm would be done to players in a lockout scenario, it is expected that injunction will be granted, which could create a wild sideshow as the league partially re-opens for business.
Perhaps Appeals Court Judge Kermit Bye, who said neither side may like the decision made in St. Louis, was right. The two sides have opened a can of worms that will make the brief window of team/player contact look like a leisurely picnic. Teams may have to be ready to get out their checkbooks and start cutting deals without knowing the final outcome of CBA talks.
Judge David Doty, who still holds domain over the suit filed by players to hold back network television revenue from the owners' war chest, has yet to rule on that aspect of the lockout. But, if no progress is made, Doty may be forced to make a ruling, which could greatly change the landscape of negotiations if a deal hasn't been struck.
It seems like Brett Favre can't win for losing. He's been the butt of jokes for the last year since the Jenn Sterger incident first broke. The latest to take a shot at Favre is comedian Larry David. David, best known as the co-creator of Seinfeld and the basis of the George Costanza character, has reached the greatest post-Seinfeld success with his show Curb Your Enthusiam. The show will have its Season 8 premiere Sunday night and, doing a spot on the podcast of NFL Network host Rich Eisen, David was asked if he would come back for a ninth season. When he wouldn't commit to anything, Eisen compared him to Favre, prompting David to say he is Favre-like – and has also sent inappropriate pictures of himself.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.