SBD/March 16, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 5: Could Von Miller's Participation In Lawsuit Affect Draft Position?

Miller's agency, Athletes First, volunteered him for antitrust suit
NFL Draft prospect Von Miller "put himself in the middle of a storm … before his first NFL snap" by joining nine active players "as lead plaintiffs in a class-action suit alleging antitrust violations by the NFL" that also seeks an injunction against the lockout, according to Gerry Fraley of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The NFL players' group "wanted a high-quality draft-eligible player to argue against a rookie wage scale." The agency Athletes First "volunteered Miller, whom it represents." Athletes First agent Andrew Kessler is the son of players outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler. Athletes First's Jody Branion said, "Von felt honored to be asked to join the select group of players who are now the named plaintiffs in the case." However, Fraley notes NFL owners and execs "have never been fond of player activists." Fraley: "Could Miller be branded a disruptive force, a locker-room lawyer, for his involvement in the suit? Could there be retaliation in the form of lower draft status?" Miller said, "I'm looking forward to the draft and everything else. I'll take it day-by-day and deal with whatever happens. That's been my formula all along." Fraley writes any teams that "consider Miller's participation in the suit as a mark against his character will be making a big mistake," as he is "involved in the suit because of his strong character and his football talents" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/16).

KEY TO GETTING BACK TO TABLE: In N.Y., Judy Battista notes the antitrust case, Tom Brady v. NFL, is about something "elemental: lifting the lockout to create more leverage for players in negotiations." On page 48 of the suit, the "first item listed under Prayer For Relief asks the court to declare the lockout a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and asks the court to block it." U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson is "scheduled to hear arguments on that request April 6," and "whichever way Nelson rules after the hearing next month -- and even more critically, whichever way the Court of Appeals goes since Nelson's decision will surely be appealed by whichever side does not prevail -- could help determine how soon negotiations will resume." Legal experts said that if the players "do not get the injunction, the sides will most likely negotiate much sooner" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/16).
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