The Eighth Circuit today granted the NFL's request for a stay, by a 2-1 majority. In the accompanying opinion, the two concurring judges disagreed with Judge Susan Nelson's ruling that this situation was a labor dispute, and not a matter of litigation.
They went so far as to say that the NFL was likely to prevail in their appeal, which will likely occur in June.
The Court, as the NFL had openly hoped, voted along partisan lines and delivered a pro-business ruling. Frankly, the merits of the Court's comments don't make a lot of sense to me.
The majority completely ignored the fact that the NFL agreed not to pursue a claim of a sham decertification in 1992. The NFL wanted the NFLPA to recertify at that time, so that they'd be afforded the antitrust protection of a non-statutory labor exemption, which we've been all through here at IAOFM.
Essentially, these Republican judges seem poised to agree with the NFL that the players should be forced to be in a union. That is more than a little ironic, considering the normal union-busting tactics of that political party. A cynical person could conclude that they're without principle on the question of unions, and simply favor the rich staying rich by whatever means necessary.
That appalls me, because it is tantamount to the favoring of inconsistent application of the law to achieve ideological outcomes. Whether you think those outcomes are favorable to society or not, I doubt that a coherent argument otherwise could be made.
This opinion from the Eighth Circuit sends a distinct message that football anytime soon is now less likely. Both sides will surely work overtime to have their "A" games in order for the appellate hearing next month.
If I were an NFL player, I would support refusing to ever even recertify as a union. That way, they can sue for antitrust violations as needed and get the fairest shake for themselves. That was their play in 1992, and the NFL made a significant concession to get them to reconsider.
Since that concession has now been ignored by the NFL and also by the majority of a federal appeals court, the players should refuse to be fooled again. Otherwise, they're affording the NFL extraordinary antitrust rights and aren't getting anything of value back.
In closing, you can spare me this stuff about how the players would ruin the game if they did that. Every offensive action in this situation has been taken by the NFL - and make zero mistake - they are 100% responsible for the fact that on-time football is unlikely. Playing football is the players' endgame, and not playing football is the owners' endgame. Don't allow that to be obscured by all the nonsense out there.
I'm not rooting for one side or the other to win, and I'd just prefer a fair settlement, but I believe that the Eighth Circuit is about to miscarry justice in a decidedly activist way by claiming that a decertified union can be forced to stay a union. That makes no sense, regardless of your political leaning. I just wish that I had gone to New York so that I could have booed Roger Goodell along with all the yahoo Jets fans, because it's in order.