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Experts Concur: Balance Of Power Shifts Back To NFL

Publication Date: 
May 17, 2011
CBS Sports
Clark Judge

Professor William Gould spoke with CBS Sports' Clark Judge on what comes next for the NFL players in regards to the lockout, and the odds they face with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now that we've heard from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, we need to hear from NFL players. Because the next move is up to them, and the next move determines what happens to the 2011 season.

Of course, nothing happens until the 8th Circuit hears arguments on the NFL's motion to appeal an April ruling ending its lockout. But I think we can all anticipate where it's going with its next decision, and where it's going is not in the players' direction.

"It's unlikely we'll see something from the court in June that's appreciably different from what it did (Monday)," said Stanford Law professor William Gould, former head of the National Labor Relations Board.


"They will have to reassess their position," Gould said of the players. "I think they will have to retreat. There really is no other avenue open to them except Judge Doty's decision, and that's their only leverage -- if, of course, (an appeal) is affirmed by the court of appeals."


"I'm not so sure [you can guarantee a favorable judgment]," said Gould. "I've always thought the 8th Circuit would come out, as apparently it has, on the basic issue of a lockout. But don't forget it affirmed Judge Doty in the past, and two years ago it rejected an attempt by the NFL to strip Judge Doty's consent decree away and to disqualify Judge Doty himself. I don't take it as a given that it will necessarily reverse Judge Doty.



"The next move is up to them," said Gould. "The players are going to be confronted with a lot of rank-and-file restiveness, and that will be the basic reality. I think they are going to have to retreat from what they thought they would get when this exercise commenced on March 11. But how much they retreat depends on the remedy that is fashioned by Judge Doty and the court of appeals' receptiveness to it."


"The basic dynamics," said Gould, "are that time is always working against the players and the union, a factor the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit completely ignored. But now those dynamics will pressure the (players) to come to grips with this new situation.

"A lot of their membership will be urging them to resolve this on the best terms available, and I think there is a good chance we will see football in 2011 -- maybe for the entire season."