NFL Players Back to Work – At Least for Now.

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Robert J. Romano

The National Football League announced that it would resume day-to-day football operations. Players can return to team facilities, meet with coaches and receive treatment if  needed.

The league is also formalizing a plan for free agent signings, trades and other personnel moves, and will allow teams to swap picks, not players, during the NFL draft.

In addition, mandatory minicamps and voluntary offseason practices can begin, and team-supervised workouts will count towards off-season workout bonuses in player contracts. Players can also work out on their own at team facilities.  The league is also making arrangement for substance abuse and steroid programs.

“Judge [Susan Richard] Nelson said it was up to us to determine how to proceed, and we think in light of the fact that the first round of the draft is tonight, clubs are fully focused on that,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “The best way to proceed is for the veterans to start working out at facilities [Friday], and then we’ll set up the process of starting the league year, which would include player trades and player signings.”

However, the two sided will continue their fight in court with the NFL and owners moving forward with their appeal in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis wherein they have moved to stay Judge Nelson’s decision to lift the lockout.The NFL criticized Judge Nelson’s decision by stating it “blinks reality” and is “deeply flawed,” and it has forced teams to “produce their collective product” and expose themselves to additional antitrust claims.  Without a stay, the NFL said, it would be impossible to “unscramble the egg in terms of player transactions (trades, signings, cuts) that would occur in the interim” before a ruling from the appeals court.”

The NFL continues with their argument that the federal court has no jurisdiction over this matter while a bad-faith negotiation charge against the players is pending with the National Labor Relations Board; that federal law prevents the court from overseeing cases stemming from labor disputes; and that it shouldn’t be subject to antitrust claims with the collective bargaining deal barely expired.

The former NFL Players’ Association has until this afternoon to respond to the League’s motion for stay, and the NFL’s reply to that is set for Monday morning.

Attorneys for the players said the Judge Nelson’s decision “is in full, immediate force. And that the NFL and the clubs will be in contempt of court if they do not comply with the order.”

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