The court-ordered mediation session between players and the NFL came to a stop today, adjourned until May 16. The month-long break is the results of Judge Boylan's schedule, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network. In the meantime, several big pivot points will take place between now and the resumption of mediation, things that could dramatically change the landscape for the next round of talks.
Judge Nelson is expected to issue a ruling in the players' motion for an injunction to lift the lockout. Most believe that Nelson will order the lockout to be lifted, potentially opening the NFL for business. However, owners are expected to appeal the decision to the 8th circuit court, a venue they view as having a more pro-business lean to it. The thing about courts that people don't like, on the left and right, is that they usually serve the letter of the law first, with more respect for precedent than partisanship.
A potentially bigger event is the May 12 hearing in front of Judge David Doty to decide on damages to be awarded to players in the television revenue case, i.e. the lockout insurance. That could potentially cost NFL owners hundreds of millions of dollars.
The name of the game here is leverage. Just like the score board can have a big impact on a team's play calling during the game (unless you're the 2010 St. Louis Rams with a fanatical dedication to the same offensive game plan), looming court decisions will change the game between owners and players. Neither side has much motivation to put much on the table at this point. These court decisions could change the playing field, giving one side a little more leverage at the bargaining table.
We offered some predictions on the Rams season in light of their 2011 schedule, but right now it's looking like a tie, a tie in which the Rams and every other team are set to go 0-0 this season.