After months of PR battles in the media, the battle moved into the courtroom today. Judge Susan Nelson, a district court judge in Minnesota heard arguments from the NFL and NFL Trade Association lawyers in regards to an injunction sought by the players.
After mediated negotiations failed in mid-March, the NFL owners locked out the players and the NFL Players Association decertified and became a trade association. This response to the owners provided the players the opportunity to file for a preliminary injunction to stop the lockout.
In order to get this injunction, the players have to show that there is a likelihood of success for them to win on the merits of their case, and then they would need to show there is irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted. Boston Globe reporter Greg Bedard was on hand for the hearing and his twitter feed has a host of nuggets that would indicate Judge Nelson is likely to side with the players.
What was most pertinent to football fans about today’s proceedings was that Judge Nelson did indicate she thought it was better for this to be handled at the negotiating table and not by simply locking out the players. She suggested more formal federal mediation under her supervision. It remains to be seen if that will lead to results, but it has to be better than just staring at each other in court.
Judge Nelson indicated it would be a couple of weeks before she had a decision. It will be interesting to see if the two sides get back to the negotiating table in the meantime. The owners have indicated they would only go back to the table if the players recertified as a union. Needless to say the players are not exactly down with that.