Out of the frying pan of failed negotiations and into the “crossfire” of the NFL and NFLPA is where fans frustratingly find themselves pending the commencement of court hearings slated to begin on April 6th in the Minnesota courtroom of U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson. It’s a place The Fast Life has termed “No Fans Land” and when asked as to duration of this millennium’s version of a NFL work stoppage sentencing fans to purgatory, Andrew Brandt, president of the National Football Post said “she [Judge Nelson] will probably have a decision in a week to ten days from April 6th so we may have football by the draft.”
Currently, the NFL has registered its filings with the court and the NFLPA is expected to submit their filings momentarily. Most assuredly, Judge Nelson will be facing some intriguing perspectives from both sides and how she rules and on whose side she ultimately favors with her judgment remains speculative at best. When prodded for an opinion on Judge Nelson’s potential findings, the ESPN television analyst offered “my sense is she is going to be very letter of the law and go through the arguments and see which one convinces her more.” With almost every certitude, should the players win their injunction, an appeal from the NFL will be immediately entered into the court record.
Clearly the seat in Judge Nelson’s chambers is grower hotter by the day as the accosting and exchange of rhetoric continue to intensify from both side’s representatives and external counsel. “The hallmark of this negotiation has been a lack of trust. The sides don’t really trust each other . . . and beyond that I don’t think the leaderships frankly like each other,” stated Brandt, “I am really conflicted on this financial transparency issue, I understand it’s issue of trust and I understand the NFL hasn’t given what the NFLPA has asked for. On the other hand I know what is required by the CBA which is league wide financials not team financials."
With the sport enjoying an all time high in popularity, demonstrated widely through its stellar record breaking television ratings, owners have relished in exceedingly handsome profits via the league’s multiple revenue streams. And this is the crux of the matter for the NFLPA as their contention from day one has been the owners have never provided fair justification for a multi-million dollar give-back from the players to the owners. Absent a concise, definitive collective bargaining agreement and with negotiations of the conference room having been substituted for the litigation of the court room, accurately forecasting if the NFL will continue to realize its current profitability is difficult to gauge. “My sense is players’ costs will level off and revenues will continue to grow, but you never know so [the owners] are trying to adjust it,” expressed Brandt, however, despite the many unknowns of the forthcoming deal, in regards to recently signed franchise tag deals, Brandt stated “[his] sense is the former union will not fight the franchise tag too hard. It only effects 15 players, they’ve got to worry about 2000 players.”
So for twenty million fans, as the current fate of the football universe hangs in the balance and “No Fans Land” takes up residence at 774 Federal Building 316 N. Robert Street Saint Paul, Minnesota, the former Green Bay Packers Vice President optimistically projects “[his] gut feeling is we don’t miss games.”
For more in depth information on the court filings and NFL Labor situation, as well as all things football related, please visit Andrew Brandt’s website www.nationalfootballpost.com Andrew can be followed @adbrandt on Twitter.