According to SBJ's Liz Mullen, Judge Susan Nelson has turned down the NFL's request for a stay of her lockout injunction. This means the NFL
is going to may have to start the clock on the 2011 league year soon, if not ASAP and could therefore open the door for free agent signings and trades of veteran players for draft choices (cough*Kyle*cough*Orton*cough).
ESPN's Adam Schefter has tweeted that Judge Nelson ordered the NFL to start the league year immediately after earlier saying the NFL will now turn to the Eighth Circuit to request a stay, while Gary Myers of the Daily News tweeted that it's uncertain whether the NFL will start the league year just yet.
Mullen just tweeted the following:
Judge Nelson denies NFL's motion to stay the injunction, of the NFL Lockout & leaves it to the NFL to decide what rules to impose. NFL Free Agency may start tomorrow, the same day as the NFL Draft, or not depending on what the NFL chooses to do, under Judge's order...Judge: "This Court’s Order does not obligate the #NFL to enter into contracts, nor does it proscribe the League’s non-lockout conduct.."
Schefter tweeted that the NFL is instructing teams not to make any moves until the Eighth Circuit rules on the stay request. More to come...
UPDATED 7:30PM ET - According to WXYZ in Detroit, Broncos DE/LB Jason Hunter was stabbed in his left shoulder by his 23-year-old girlfriend this morning. The report states that Hunter has declined to press charges which could have included felony assault. Hunter's agent tweeted that it was a "very minor injury" requiring "just a few stitches." The Broncos released a brief statement via Patrick Smyth today. This comes only days after former Broncos WR Brandon Marshall was stabbed by his wife in Miami; OTAs apparently can't come soon enough for some players.
Hunter has spent five NFL seasons with the Packers, Lions and Broncos and contributed 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries in his first year with Denver, including a 75-yard TD return in a 49-29 home victory over the Chiefs. More to follow...
7:38PM ET - The NFLPA has responded with a statement of their own:
We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson. We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.
7:07PM ET - The NFL has released a statement in response to Judge Nelson's ruling as follows:
We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.
6:35PM ET - Here is Judge Nelson's ruling in full. (PDF)
UPDATED 4/28/11 - Wednesday marked the end of the Broncos' pre-draft visits, meetings and workouts, and as promised we've been tracking them all. The prospects are listed in groupings by position, along with their school, the nature of their reported interaction with the Broncos (whether it be a Dove Valley visit, private workout, Combine meeting, or reported interest) and the most recent source (with link) to confirm those interactions.
Here is the 2011 schedule; all times are expressed in Broncos Standard Time.
|1||Monday||Sep 12, 2011||Oakland Raiders||8:15 PM|
|2||Sunday||Sep 18, 2011||Cincinnati Bengals||2:15 PM|
|3||Sunday||Sep 25, 2011||at Tennessee Titans||11:00 AM|
|4||Sunday||Oct 2, 2011||at Green Bay Packers||2:15 PM|
|5||Sunday||Oct 9, 2011||San Diego Chargers||2:15 PM|
|7||Sunday||Oct 23, 2011||at Miami Dolphins||11:00 AM|
|8||Sunday||Oct 30, 2011||Detroit Lions||2:05 PM|
|9||Sunday||Nov 6, 2011||at Oakland Raiders||2:05 PM|
|10||Sunday||Nov 13, 2011||at Kansas City Chiefs||11:00 AM|
|11||Thursday||Nov 17, 2011||New York Jets||6:20 PM|
|12||Sunday||Nov 27, 2011||at San Diego Chargers||2:15 PM|
|13||Sunday||Dec 4, 2011||at Minnesota Vikings||2:05 PM|
|14||Sunday||Dec 11, 2011||Chicago Bears||2:05 PM|
|15||Sunday||Dec 18, 2011||New England Patriots||2:15 PM|
|16||Saturday||Dec 24, 2011||at Buffalo Bills||11:00 AM|
|17||Sunday||Jan 1, 2012||Kansas City Chiefs||2:15 PM|
As per the DP, the Broncos will open the 2011 season on September 12 at home against the Raiders on Monday Night Football. According to Klis, the Broncos will also host the NJ Jets in a Thursday night matchup. The full schedule will be released sometime after the top of the hour.
The Broncos announced their preseason opponents today:
Wk. 1 at Dallas (Aug. 11-15)
Wk. 2 vs. Buffalo (Aug. 18-22)
Wk. 3 vs. Seattle (Aug. 25-29)
Wk. 4 at Arizona (Sept. 1-2)
As previously announced, the Broncos' regular season slate will feature home games versus Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, New England and the NJ Jets, with road games at Buffalo, Green Bay, Miami, Minnesota and Tennessee, along with the customary home and away games versus division rivals Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego. Times and dates for both the exhibition and regular seasons will be announced later in the month.
In the April 11 issue of Sports Illustrated due to hit newsstands this week, Atlanta magazine senior associate editor and SI freelancer Thomas Lake revisits the murder of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams. The lengthy and engrossing article explores the backgrounds of Williams, his convicted killer "Little" Willie Clark, and Williams' friend and teammate Javon Walker, in whose arms Williams perished. While expectedly saddening, Lake's retelling of the events from that fateful New Year's Eve of 2006 casts more light on the roles ex-Broncos WR Brandon Marshall and his cousin played in the night-long conflict, including the perceived likelihood that they were the intended targets of Clark's gunfire.
According to the Gazette's former Broncos reporter and current Air Force beat guy Frank Schwab, defensive lineman Ben Garland has passed on the opportunity to enroll in the Air Force's pilot training school in order to eventually pursue an NFL career. According to Schwab, in a year's time Garland can submit request that his military commitment be converted to a longer reserve assignment, and which if granted would allow him to join the Broncos in 2012 ala former LB Steve Russ (also an Air Force alum and special-teams stalwart on both of Denver's SB-winning teams and now the LB coach for Wake Forest). Garland is a native of Grand Junction, CO and was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent on April 26 of last year.
Current Bronco and former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins spoke with Tim McManus of Philly Sports Daily recently and addressed the serious issue of concussions both mild and severe. Frighteningly, Dawkins told McManus it's impossible to keep track of all the mild head injuries he's suffered throughout his career that didn't take him off the field. Meanwhile, the notoriously hard hitter said he believes he's suffered four concussions that have knocked him out cold and/or caused him memory loss. Dawkins said,
It’s a concern, and it should be a concern to everybody...We have to make sure that the men who play the game are protected for long after they are done so that our legends can be living legends.