More Than 20 NFL Players On Hand For Appeals Court Hearing
More than 20 NFL players were present in the courtroom Friday morning as the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments about whether the nearly 12-week-old lockout should be lifted. “We are staying together,” Vikings DE Brian Robison said after the hearing in explaining the number of players present. Of course, the league is arguing evidence like that showing of support is an example that the union has not really decertified. “The union will be back,” NFL attorney Paul Clement told reporters after the hearing.
That issue was roundly debated before the 8th Circuit’s three-judge panel. A lower court ruled because there is no union (the players decertified on March 11), a lockout is an antitrust violation. The 8th Circuit stayed that ruling, and many of the questions Friday from the three judges focused on whether there needs to be a time space between a decertification and the filing of an antitrust lawsuit. Clement, in response to questions from the judges about how long the players should have to wait before receiving antitrust protections, contended it should be at least one business cycle, and for the lockout, at least a year.
Judge Steven Colloton, who sided with the NFL in the stay, asked players’ attorney Ted Olson a hypothetical question: If non-unionized employees staged a walkout, would they be protected by labor laws? Olson replied they might, to which Colloton quickly replied that likely means the lower court’s decision is wrong.