Whether the NFL argument to Judge Susan Nelson, that her Monday injunction lifting the lockout rises to the level of "irreparable harm" for the league if not stayed, holds any water remains to be seen. But one thing, following a Tuesday afternoon conference call with league vice president and lead legal counsel Jeff Pash, is clear.
Minus a stay, and essentially freezing the
decision until the league has time to appeal the ruling either to
Nelson or the Eighth Circuit Court, would throw the NFL into what Pash
characterized as "a considerable degree of uncertainty."
Consider the following scenario: The NFL is forced
to begin its "league year," and permit trades, free agency, releases,
signings and waivers. Then after a few days of business as usual, an
appellate court decides the lockout can resume.
Imagine the chaos that would ensue.
There are a lot of reasons, many of them legalese
that is far too convoluted for us to understand or explain - and which
appears to be a turn-off to the public as well - for the NFL to seek a
stay. But the potential to be playing under one set of rules for a day
or two, with free agents changing franchises and trades consummated,
and then abruptly return to a lockout that freezes player movement, is
one of the very tricky and knotty problems with which the NFL would
prefer not to deal.
Said Pash: "We want to avoid trying to unscramble
The NFL, as expected, has filed its appeal of
Nelson's decision. The decertified players association has filed with
Nelson a "motion of reconsideration" which seeks a new injunction that
would force the NFL to re-open its doors. Both sides remain confident
of their respective stances.
Asked about the NFL's optimism, given the league's
poor track record in courtrooms the past several years, Pash rattled
off a litany of cases in which an appellate court eventually ruled in
favor of the league. "The history of appellate courts," he said, "is
Pash termed the NFL position "meritorious," but
said the league would respond "promptly" if forced by the courts to
open for business, and stressed several times during the call with
national media members that the NFL will comply with the court orders.
"(But) it's preferable for everyone to have some
greater degree of clarity," he said.
Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has
covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall
of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the
winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.