Trust broken, millions apart, NFL players and owners head to court
After 16 days of hard negotiating, the NFL and its players failed to reach a contract agreement by a 5 p.m. deadline. The players' union disbanded in order to take its case to court.
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The move set the stage for the sixth work stoppage in NFL history and cleared the way for the league's third outright lockout of players.
The negotiations, refereed by federal mediator George Cohen and twice extended beyond the original deadline, have in part been public theater. Both parties have now arrived at what they had been expecting for nearly three years: a lockout that will test the constitution and patience of players, owners, sponsors and, ultimately, fans.
Most dramatically, the decertification of the union allows star players like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning to sue the owners of their football teams. The legal drama will play out in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Minnesota, where federal Judge David Doty – who has already ruled once on behalf of players and against the league – will now hear a flurry of filings and injunction requests from both sides.
Almost immediately, the players are expected to file an injunction to try to stop the owners from locking them out after midnight.
What's at stake
The owners are locking out the players because they want to keep more of the league's revenue for themselves. They say this is necessary for the future health of the NFL. In short they want $2 billion of the NFL's $9 billion in revenue to go directly to them, instead of the current $1 billion. The remainder of the pot is split between the owners and players, with the players currently getting 57 percent.
As one way to split the difference, owners have proposed adding two regular season games to the schedule, which would add revenue so that players' salaries would not decrease. Players see that as being paid the same money for doing more work – not to mention an injury threat.