SBD/May 3, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 53: Goodell Says NFL, NFLPA Shouldn't Be In Stalemate

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said the league and players "shouldn't be where we are right now," and the two sides "should have addressed the issues far enough in advance," according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. In a conference call with Falcons season-ticket holders, Goodell said that he "thought progress was made in previous mediation sessions and thought the NFL made a fair proposal to the players." He added, "We need to get down to negotiating so we can make an agreement that makes sense for everybody. ... We should be sitting at the table working from that proposal." Asked if the NFL has decided when it would start canceling regular-season games, Goodell said, "We do not have a drop-dead date right now. My concern is so much has to happen to get ready for the regular season." Yasinskas noted Falcons fans gave the commissioner a "pretty good grilling about the labor situation" during the 35-minute call, when "only season-ticket holders, not members of the media were allowed to ask questions" (ESPN.com, 5/2). In N.Y., Judy Battista reports NFL owners and players "remained in a holding pattern Monday, as a federal appeals court considered the league’s request for a full stay of the injunction that lifted the seven-week-old lockout last week." The decision of the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis, "expected early this week, will largely determine what the off-season looks like" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/3).

YOU BE THE JUDGE: In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes the "best thing that could happen for anyone who cares that pro football will be played without interruption this fall is for the three-member panel of judges on the 8th Circuit Court to offer up another round of raspberries for the owners and their high-priced attorneys." When you "get past all the legal mumbo jumbo in the owners' 18-page brief, the best little nugget is the almost laughable paragraph that tries to convince the court that the short-term (and ultimate long-term) effects of a lockout won't create an economic or career hardship on the players." But a lockout "leaves plenty of careers in limbo." Burwell: "If the lockout ended at this very instant, the NFL would be able to get on with its regular business within 24 to 48 hours. They would simply put into effect the same rules that they operated under in 2010 and life would go on without a hitch" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/3). Also in St. Louis, Stu Durando profiles the three randomly selected judges ruling on the NFL appeal and notes they "will convene in St. Louis to hear arguments by both sides and deliver a decision." But for the time being, the judges -- William Benton of K.C., Kermit Bye of Fargo, N.D., and Steven Colloton of Des Moines -- are "spread across the court's seven-state jurisdiction area while deciding the outcome of the NFL's request for a stay of last week's decision" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/3).

NO SENTIMENTALITY IN THE EQUATION: The '11 NFL season is scheduled to start with the majority of games being played on Sept. 11, the 10-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that will "have no effect at all" on the labor negotiations and helping to force the two sides to start the season on time. Schefter: "The two sides go about their business and try to get this deal done -- period -- separate from the events of 9/11 and the 10-year anniversary." But if the two sides "don't have a deal in place by that particular day, and that Sunday comes and goes without any football, it makes both sides look that much worse" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 5/2).
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