SALVO, North Carolina, April 7 (Reuters Legal) - A federal
judge said she would need around two weeks to rule on an
injunction brought by NFL players seeking to end a lockout, and
urged the football players and owners to resume talks to end
the labor dispute themselves.
"It seems to me that both sides are at risk." Judge Susan
Richard Nelson said after a full day of legal arguments in
Minnesota on Wednesday.
"It will probably take me a couple of weeks to do a fair
job to both sides," she said.
The players had asked for an immediate ruling, saying the
lockout amounted to an antitrust violation brought about by the
illegal collusion of team owners.
But league attorney David Boies questioned whether the
court had jurisdiction in the case, saying the National Labor
Relations Board should first rule on an owners' complaint
against the players' union.
Both sides have indicated they would lodge an appeal if
they lost the decision on the injunction, setting the stage for
a long and costly legal battle.
The NFL ordered the lockout after talks between the league
and the players' union collapsed, plunging America's most
popular professional sport into its first work stoppage in
almost a quarter of a century.
The league and the players were unable to reach an
agreement over a range of issues, including how to divide up
more than $9 billion in annual revenues.
Under the expired agreement signed in 2006, owners received
a guaranteed $1 billion of the annual revenue while the rest
was split, with players getting around 60 percent and the
owners 40 percent.
The league and owners wanted to increase their automatic
cut, arguing that operational costs had risen since the last
deal was struck, but the players wanted to maintain the status
With the 2011 season not due to kick off until September,
there is still time for the parties to avoid the massive
revenue loss that would occur if the season is delayed or
Both sides in the dispute have been criticized for
demanding huge sums of money at a time when many families are
struggling to make ends meet. President Barack Obama said he
would not get involved in the matter, which he characterized as
a battle between billionaires and millionaires.
The case is Tom Brady et al v. National Football League,
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, No.
For the players: Barbara Berens and Justi Rae Miller of
Berens & Miller; Timothy Thornton of Briggs and Morgan; James
Quinn and Bruce Meyer of Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Jeffrey
Kessler, David Feher and David Greenspan of Dewey & LeBoeuf.
For the NFL: Daniel Connolly and Aaron Van Oort of Faegre &
Benson; David Boies and William Isaacson of Boies, Schiller &
Flexner; Gregg Levy and Benjamin Block of Covington & Burling.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry of Reuters; Additional reporting
by Jeff Roberts of Reuters Legal)