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De Smith: “Football might be back on.”
Question of the Day
Indeed, there are many more questions than answers. Leber said he was initially worried about what would happen to a player if an injury occurred during a workout at a team facility, but he said he was assured by NFLPA leadership that liability should not be a concern.
“We should feel free to try to get workouts in and try to resume any sort of normalcy that we had before,” Leber said.
“By no means does this mean that we as the players have all the leverage or have an outright outlook that we’re in the winning position right now, because there’s still a long way to go,” said Wilson, who served as the team’s union player representative before decertification on March 11.
“But it’s definitely encouraging to see that we got the information in the right hands, and the judge took the time to take an objective look at all the information and make a decision that’s in the best interest of the league as a whole.”
Kicker Jay Feely, Arizona’s player rep before the NFL Players Association dissolved, was more vociferous in reacting to the decision.
“The players have said all along, ‘The law is on our side.’ Judge Nelson’s ruling reaffirms our contention,” Feely said.
“I know whenever I’m told I can go back to the building, I’ll be one of the first guys in there,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “Every time you hear there might be news, it makes you think, ‘Oh, it’s time to go.’ But you’ve just got to be patient. We all want to play, and the schedule coming out makes you excited, then it’s hurry up and wait.”
Many of his peers are looking at the long term. New York Jets guard Brandon Moore called it a good day for the players, but recognized “there’s still some legal wrangling that needs to go on.”
“This has been frustrating,” Moore said. “You’re working out on your own, trying to set up drills, trying to find a field somewhere, trying to find a time to get together. I mean, we’re professional athletes here. We shouldn’t be going through this. On the same token, these were the only cards we were left with.”
It’s a high-stakes poker game as the owners and players wrangle over more than $9 billion in revenues. Seth Borden, a labor law expert at McKenna, Long and Aldridge in New York, emphasized that Nelson stuck strictly to one topic in a multifaceted dispute.
“The judge was very clear that the ultimate resolution of the players’ claims against the league is not dealt with in this,” Borden said. “Only one issue she has addressed here: whether or not the effort of the owners to disallow the players from playing at this time potentially violates the antitrust laws.”
“It certainly tilts some leverage back toward the players. The major piece of leverage the owners were employing throughout this dispute was the ability to disallow the players from playing. … For the time being, this judge has said they cannot do so.”
So what will the players do, at least until a stay is granted _ if it is granted?
“If they are in town,” agent Joe Linta said, “I would tell them to show up at 8 a.m. with a cup of coffee and their lunch box.”
By Orrin G. Hatch
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