The league has been granted a major victory over the Players Association in the ongoing lockout drama in the NFL.
The lockout has been in place since the 12th of March, but the players managed to temporarily get the lockout lifted in late April. US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled with the players after agreeing that the lockout was doing irreparable harm to their careers.
The league challenged this verdict and won a crucial battle yesterday when the NFL was granted a stay-on-appeal by the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The lockout will now remain in place, while both sides must return to federal mediation, which was ordered by Judge Nelson in April.
The ongoing lockout means that players and teams cannot contact each other. The result is that players are having to organise their own training activities, while free agents cannot sign with teams. Numerous players face an uncertain future and the Players Association’s bargaining chips have been seriously depleted by this ruling.
The players are widely believed to have gained the better deal in the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and owners are eager not to let a similar situation reoccur.
Little progress has been made in recent months, with the sides differing on crucial issues. The league has been insisting that a longer 18 game season should be adopted to boost revenue, but players are worried about the potential increased susceptibility to injuries and would want to be rewarded financially for the extra games.
Both sides seem to want a rookie salary cap, which would limit what college players entering the league can earn from their maiden contracts. The main issue, however, is money and how to carve up the spoils in this $9bn industry.
There have been two strikes previously in the NFL in 1982 and 1987 and on both occasions matches were cancelled. Unfortunately, neither side are currently willing to budge and a similar scenario is possible in 2011.