Players' union memo says free agents can shop their services
The NFLPA issued a Q&A memo after a judge ruled that the lockout be lifted
The memo says unless there is a stay, teams can't refuse to talk to free agents
(AP) -- The following question-and-answer memo, obtained by The Associated Press, was distributed by the NFL Players Association on Tuesday afternoon:
"Follow-up Q&A's about Brady, et al v. NFL: Judge Nelson Orders Lockout Lifted
Judge Susan Nelson issued a decision in the Brady lawsuit declaring the NFL's lockout to be illegal and ordering the NFL and its clubs to end the lockout at 6 p.m. EST on April 25, 2011. The following Q&A's should answer some of the questions you may have about what this means for you as a player and where the case will go from here.
1. Why did Judge Nelson issue this order? When the players in Brady v. NFL initially filed this action the most immediate goal of the lawsuit was to have the court stop the lockout that the NFL had imposed which prevented players from playing football. They filed a motion with Judge Nelson asking her to order the NFL to enjoin (stop) the lockout, and she heard arguments on that motion on April 6, 2011. At that time, the players' attorneys argued that that once the players decided the NFLPA should give up its status as their union at the expiration of the last CBA, the antitrust laws apply to the owners thereafter and prevent them from locking out the players in an effort to reduce player compensation.
2. What is the effect of this decision?
This decision requires the NFL to end the lockout. This means that, unless or until Judge Nelson or the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issues an order "staying" (delaying) the injunction, the owners have to end the lockout immediately, as of the time the order was issued, which was 6 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 25, 2011. The NFL filed an order requesting a stay (delay) of the injunction the evening of April 25, and Judge Nelson will consider the NFL's request. The Players response to the NFL's request is due at 9 a.m. CDT on April 26, 2011. Unless and until Judge Nelson issues an order granting the NFL's request to stay (delay) the injunction, the lockout remains lifted. We will keep you updated on the Judge's ruling on the stay motion.
3. Is the NFL taking any steps to try to delay this order?
Late on April 25, 2011, the NFL filed a motion requesting a stay (delay) of her order to stop the lockout while the NFL appeals her decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Nelson stated the next morning that she will consider the NFL's request. The Players response to the NFL's request is due at 9 a.m. CDT on April 26, 2011. Unless and until Judge Nelson issues an order granting the NFL's request to stay (delay) the injunction, the lockout remains lifted. We will keep you updated on the Judge's ruling on the stay motion. If Judge Nelson does not agree to a stay (delay) of her order, the owners likely will appeal her refusal to stay the injunction to the Eighth Circuit and make the same request for a stay (delay) from the appellate court.
4. I am not under contract and am currently a free agent, does this mean I can shop my services to teams right now?
Unless and until Judge Nelson or the Court of Appeals issues another order, the lockout has been ordered to end immediately, and if the NFL does not comply, it would be in contempt of the court order. So, until you hear otherwise, if you are not under contract, Class Counsel believes that you and your agent can contact teams and shop your services to the clubs. Judge Nelson's order is in effect as of 6 p.m. EDT on April 25, 2011, and unless and until that order is stayed, the clubs are not allowed to refuse to negotiate with you. If they do refuse, you should contact Class Counsel immediately (contact information is listed below.) The NFL must put in place a free agency system that complies with the antitrust laws.
5. Does this mean teams have to open their doors to players under contract?
Again, unless and until Judge Nelson or the Court of Appeals issues an order staying (delaying) the lifting of the lockout, teams have to reverse the steps they put into place with the lockout, and open their doors to players under contract. If you are under contract and you choose to go to the team's facility, class counsel believes that the club must allow you access to the facility and staff or the club will be in violation of Judge Nelson's order. Please inform class counsel immediately if you have any problems from your club with access to the facility and/or staff. If you are under contract, your NFL club will likely send you instructions relating to off-season workout programs and any other rules they may have relating to the off-season.
6. Do I have medical insurance while the lockout is enjoined?
You do not automatically have medical insurance while the lockout is enjoined (if you already paid for COBRA, you have insurance through COBRA). Each team must decide whether to provide health insurance for their employees. However, all player contracts state that the club is responsible for medical care for any injury related to football, and arbitrators have ruled that this obligation is limited to injuries on club property under club direction. It is therefore safer for players to work out on club property.
7. What is the timetable going forward?
You should expect decisions from both Judge Nelson and the Court of Appeals on whether or not to stay (delay) the order lifting the lockout within the next week or so. If the order is not stayed or delayed, then the lockout would be lifted and the players can return to work immediately. If the stay is granted, then the lockout will continue until the Court of Appeals rules on the lockout which will likely take until sometime in the early summer. We will keep you updated regarding the status of the stay."
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