My highly educated guess: one of them is the owners continuing to come down significantly from their original demand of taking another $1 billion off the top of player earnings. The players always believed this was an outrageous demand and the players were right.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the two sides appeared in St. Louis today before the Eighth Circuit to argue the validity of the lockout. According to Andrew Brandt, the tenor of the hearing was a direct contrast to that which was presided over by Judge Susan Nelson and resulted in the lockout injunction. Brandt writes that the two Republican-leaning judges appeared to be "empathetic to the Owners' argument" and expects they'll rule in the league's favor.
Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal has just tweeted the following:
The minnesota federal court has cancelled mediation set next week saying it is engaged in confidential settlement talks with the parties
Obviously we don't want to jump to any conclusions, but this is good news.
UPDATE 3:48PM ET - Liz Mullen has just shared Judge Boylan's order via Twitter:
Whereas, the Court has been engaged in confidential settlement discussions involving the above captioned matter it deems it appropriate to cancel the mediation session previously scheduled in Minneapolis for June 7 and June 8.
More to come...
UPDATE 2:30PM ET - The players and owners have released a brief joint statement which reads,
The parties met pursuant to court mediation. Owners and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions.
According to Judy Battista, the meetings actually commenced earlier in the week and that while Judge Boylan was present, he did not preside over the negotiations. Plus, the nature of the meetings were so secretive that several NFL owners were not made aware of them until after they had already begun.
NFL Coaches Association has filed an amicus brief supporting players written and filed by a Duke law professor, Barak D. Richman. The coaches seem to be strongly supporting the players, and claim that the NFL is ‘avoiding’ the Sherman Act.
The coaches - both head and assistant - go on to say that "New coaches especially need time with players, which is why league rules normally permit new coaching staffs to organize two additional minicamps with players over the summer." It goes on to point out that, "This offseason, NFL teams hired an unusually large number of new head coaches with no previous head coaching experience, each of whom-along with their assistants-face a steep learning curve & desperately need this time to prepare their teams." The coaches then cite irreparable harm, and say that: "Damages would not be an adequate remedy for NFL coaches who suffer from the NFL’s illegal group boycott." The coaches' brief also includes charts that show the uptick in coaches fired after two years, and after three years from 2001 to '10.
While this is hardly a major game-changer in the situation, it does show that the head coaches are willing to challenge the statements of the owners in court. Increasingly, fans are turning against both sides, wondering why they can’t split up $9 billion. The coaches are showing a desire for reason and to be given a chance to be permitted to do their jobs, and I fully support that position, and hope that it brings some small level of order to this increasingly pointless circumstance.
Second-year Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox pleaded not guilty today to two felony charges he faces stemming from an alleged sexual assault that occurred last September. Cox's trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 18 which is just after the Broncos' Week 6 bye. There's been no word out of Dove Valley as to what the 2010 fifth-rounder's status will be for the upcoming season, but it's hard to imagine Cox remaining on the Broncos' active roster this season while facing such serious charges (sexual assault while the victim was physically helpless and sexual assault while the victim was incapable of determining the nature of the conduct). If found guilty, Cox could face two years to as much as life in prison.
At first glance, it would appear the only feasible options for Cox would be to leave the team or face suspension from the Broncos. This is purely speculation on our part, but the distraction of a trial in this case will already loom large over the Broncos' season - and it has the potential to be quite detrimental to the team's image while perhaps even impacting their performance on the field. Having Cox suit up in uniform for any part of the year up to and including the trial seems a morally questionable possibility at best. As always, any ideas from our readership as to how Denver may proceed (legally or within the framework of NFL rules) are welcome in the comments..
Per Adam Schefter:
Circle June 3 on your calendear. 8th circuit has granted owners' request for expedited appeal, and it will be heard that day in St. Louis.
|Rd||#||Player||Position - School||Notes|
|1||2 (2)||Von Miller||LB - Texas A&M|
|2||13 (45)||Rahim Moore||S - UCLA||from SF (w/ #108 & #141 for #36)|
|2||14 (46)||Orlando Franklin||OT - Miami||from MIA (Brandon Marshall)|
|3||3 (67)||Nate Irving||LB - NC State|
|4||11 (108)||Quinton Carter||S - Oklahoma||from SF (see above)|
|4||32 (129)||Julius Thomas||TE - Portland St.||from GB (w/ #204 for #141 & #186)|
|6||24 (189)||Mike Mohamed||LB - California||from NE (Laurence Maroney)|
|7||1 (204)||Virgil Green||TE - Nevada||from GB (see above)|
|7||44 (247)||Jeremy Beal||DE - Oklahoma||Compensatory Pick|
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)