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“It’s a big risk on their part,” Nelson said of the players’ decision, “and they lose a lot by doing it.”

Boies claimed players are still acting like a union, that the NFL Players’ Association is funding the litigation and has set up other services for the players as if it were a fully formed labor entity. DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFLPA, attended the hearing, and the players, lawyers and union officials arrived and departed together in a bus.

“They’re financing this lawsuit,” Boies said. “They’re saying, ‘We’re no longer a collective bargaining agent, but we’re going to continue to do all these things.’”

Quinn dismissed the accusation, pointing to unanimous participation in a player vote to approve the move.

“It’s not some kind of tactic. It’s the law,” Quinn said. “It’s what we’re allowed to do.”

When she reveals her decision, the winner would have leverage whenever talks resume on a new CBA. However, that ruling will likely be appealed. She could also defer a decision until after the NLRB rules, which could take months, or declare the need to schedule another hearing to consider the evidence in the case before she rules.

That would be a loss for the players as well.

“We’re just trying to get the game of football back,” Robison said. “That’s why we’re here today. That’s why hopefully the judge will grant us this injunction so we can start going back to work.”

When the five-hour hearing concluded, Nelson offered to help facilitate a return to the mediation table in hopes of bringing this matter, and the subsequent antitrust lawsuit filed by the players, to a close.

“This is really a matter that should be resolved because a lot of people are impacted by this dispute,” she said. “I hope both sides take advantage of (mediation).”


AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this report.