NFL Quarterbacks Brady and Manning Appeal to Court for End of League Lockout

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A court filing registered by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady requested an order for the National Football League to end the lockout it has imposed on players.

Following talks on how the annual revenue of $9 billion could be divided, the NFL announced that it would shut down the wealthiest and most-watched U.S. sport starting March 11.

In response, an antitrust lawsuit was filed by the three quarterbacks and seven other players against the league and team owners.

Lawyers representing the NFL players said that the defendants did not argue about the lockout’s being an unlawful group boycott. They also reportedly agreed that price-fixing was a violation of antitrust law.

The court filing explained that the violation denied players the right for a free market in which to offer their services.

An injunction is being sought by the players to end the lockout, during which players would not get paid and teams could not practice nor sign any new players nor make any trades.

St. Paul Minnesota U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson is set to lead the hearing for the legal representatives of the NFL players and their team owners on April 6 to debate the request for injunction.

Court papers handed in by the team owners on March 21 said that the judge did not have the authority to stop the lockout, as that authority was reserved only for the National Labor Relations Board.

But the players argued that this kind of dispute is under the jurisdiction of the court and not of the NLRB. They explained that when talks of a new labor agreement did not work out, the NFL Players Association threw away its status as a union. This in turn gave players the right to file an antitrust lawsuit.

They explained that discrediting the union meant the players now had no right to hold a strike, to bargain collectively, to move as a union for grievances or determining benefits, as well as a collective regulation of agents.

The attorneys explained that the players gave up these rights under labor law in order to be able to file antitrust claims against the anticompetitive restrictions that the team owners and the NFL imposed.

In response to the lawsuit, the NFL’s court filing in March 21 said that the league had the right to lock out employees, and the decertification of the union was seen as a way of manipulating the law.

NFL attorneys said that one member of a collective bargaining relationship cannot use its own unilateral and tactical conduct to overrule federal labor law or even eliminate another member’s rights in labor law.

In 2008, the team owners voted to end the collective bargaining relationship of NFL with its players on March 3, pointing out that the deal did not cover costs like building stadiums. The deadline was postponed to March 11 while a mediator met with the players and owners.

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