Needless to say, yesterday was a big one for the NFL lockout talks. Judge David Doty, the bane of NFL owners since the Reggie White settlement in 1993, ruled that the NFL can't access the $4 billion in guaranteed revenues from TV contracts in the event of a lockout. It's a big deal, a really big deal, in case you hadn't surmised that based on all the buzz the news generated last night.
Doty's ruling is based on the premise that, and this is written in extremely lay terms, since the money was intended for broadcast rights and the intent to broadcast the NFL product, i.e. the games, then the league could not access that money in the event of a lockout. No games = nothing to broadcast = no money.
The true impact of the ruling lies somewhere between the elated ballyhoo from the NFLPA and the wounded assurances from the NFL that they can still withstand a lockout. The NFL can indeed still go the lockout, as the media was quick to point out, and probably withstand a season without football. However, it makes that a much more painful course of action, but one owners are still willing to take since they see their long-term financial future compromised by the current CBA.
Naturally, the league is planning to file an appeal, a hasty appeal. Taking their chances with appellate courts that have gotten a little more business friendly over the last decade. Another shoe to drop in this decision is a settlement for the NFLPA.
And so, while the press relation people on both sides dutifully sent out statements, the league and players went back to the negotiating table with the mediator in Washington DC this morning...albeit with a much different landscape in the background. Both sides continued to keep their lips sealed as they headed into meetings today. Additional owners reps, including Jerrys Jones and RIchardson, and other player personnel, including Drew Brees.
And just to give you some small sliver of good news, Jerry Richardson, the Carolina Panthers owner who played bad cop last time around and insulted Peyton Manning, said he was optimistic that a deal would get done. NFL VP Jeff Pash later held out hope that the two sides would extend the deadline and get a deal done.