SBD/April 20, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 40: Group Of Mid-Tier NFLers Expected To Join Antitrust Case

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A group of about 70 mid-tier NFL players as soon as this week may intervene in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case to ensure they get a seat at the mediation table, sources said. These players are on the verge of formally hiring the law firm they have been working with for several weeks, and the sources describe them as upset that mediation broke off last month in DC, before the NFLPA decertified as a union. Many of the named plaintiffs in Brady et al v. NFL are high profile, well-compensated players. (The total NFL pay in their careers is north of $400M). The players who would intervene are considered far lower in the pecking order and perhaps would have more to lose from a protracted standoff. The NFLPA and class counsel for Brady could not immediately be reached for comment. Several hurdles remain for the players -- who could not be identified -- who are seeking to intervene in the case. One, the law firm has a minor conflict that needs to be resolved, sources said. The firm also does not wish to go forward unless it has at least 75 signatories to the intervention, so a handful more players would need to sign. Legally, the new players would not be contesting the legal positions in the Brady case. The Brady class is seeking to have the lockout lifted and free agency restrictions lifted. If the mid-tier players file, the motion would seek to give the players a seat at the mediation table and lay out their position. By securing a seat at the table, these players could then push perhaps for a compromise that to date has not been acceptable to player leaders. A source said if the issues are cleared, the mid-tier players could file by the end of this week, presuming a settlement is not unexpectedly reached. All sides are awaiting a decision from Judge Susan Nelson on whether to lift the lockout. If she does, the league is expected to appeal the decision to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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