By Jaboner Jackson 10 pm CST from Chicago | Football shifts to the Midwest as the FOOTBALLPHDS enjoy a few days in Chicago and the class action lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL begins hearings tomorrow in Minnesota in Judge Susan Nelson’s court. If you haven’t been following the CBA, I can’t blame you. Courtroom football ultimately is something that the fans shouldn’t have to worry about. But with both sides hunkering down for a legal battle (and both sides are staying at the same hotel in Minnesota, it turns out), here is a primer to get you up to speed.
1. The most important consideration remains the fact that tomorrow is only a preliminary hearing, meaning that Judge Nelson is under no obligation to decide anything. In fact, it is most likely that she will postpone her decision and elicit additional arguments from both sides in preparation for a late spring or early summer ruling on whether the lockout can continue. Keep in mind that both sides will be presenting oral arguments tomorrow. This means that both sides will be arguing their cases. Although Judge Nelson has already had time to review documents submitted by both sides to the court, she will likely still request additional materials. It would be unusual for to make a ruling from the bench.
2. Since Judge Nelson is not going to end the lockout tomorrow, free agency will continue to be nonexistent. Several sources with several teams have confirmed to me that owners are not expecting an end to the lockout tomorrow. Accordingly, few teams are preparing for free agency signings. After the NFL Draft later this month, there will be absolutely no NFL news to report. (But the FOOTBALLPHDS will find news anyway.)
3. The main benefit of the legal battle will be attorneys, specifically NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler. Before other media outlets had ever heard of this guy, we were reporting on his game plan, which was to lead decertification and set the stage for a protracted legal process not only for players in the NFL but NBA as well. Kessler is not only the lead litigator for the NFLPA but he is also the lead litigator for the NBAPA as well, which is set to battle its own lockout by the NBA owners this summer. Kessler is looking to follow the same strategy with both leagues .
4. The chance of no NFL in 2011 is real. Several teams have already cut management salaries in anticipation of a lost season. If Judge Nelson does not end the lockout, there is about a 25% chance of there being no football in 2011. A little known fact from the 2011 Owners Meetings in New Orleans was that the no 2015 Superbowl bid was selected. This is the first time in years that a Superbowl bid was not selected when it was on the docket. The owners voted to postpone selection until fall, presumably when they know whether a season will be played or not.