Eighth Circuit rules in favor of NFL on Norris-LaGuardia argument

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit sided against the players and in favor of the NFL in ruling that the players’ lawsuit seeking an injunction against the lockout was barred by the Norris-LaGuardia Act. Of course, several news outlets erroneously said the Eighth Circuit “rules that lockout is legal” — it did no such thing (sorry Doug), but instead simply said a suit seeking an injunction could not be brought. Indeed, one of the significant aspects of the ruling was that it left open the possibility that the players could potentially sue for actual antitrust damages at some point down the line, just not right now.

This fact helps point in a direction every fan wants: For this ruling to be relatively meaningless because a settlement will soon be in place. I hope so too. But it’s worth revisiting briefly what was at stake in the actual ruling. As I previously summarized the issue (while predicting that the owners would win this case, as they did):

[T]he NFL’s argument is a straightforward textual argument: No injunctions may issue in cases involving “labor disputes,” and … this sure sounds like a labor dispute. The players’, by contrast, say that you have to read the Norris-LaGuardia Act in context; this language did not drop out of the sky and the NFL’s argument is not at all the way that the Act was intended to be used. [T]heir argument is one about the Act’s purpose and history.

The Norris-LaGuardia Act was passed in 1932, at a time of great strife between employers and organized labor. The principal draftsman of the Act was Felix Frankfurter, a Harvard Law professor who would go on to become a Supreme Court Justice. The problem the prohibition on injunctions was intended to remedy was that employees would go on strike and employers would frequently file a lawsuit requesting an injunction and often judges, who were perceived to be “in the pocket” of employers, would often grant them without hearings or without much process. Even if overturned later, these injunctions forced employees back to work and destroyed unions’ negotiating leverage…

Indeed, this is what I find so interesting about the case: Here we are, in 2011, talking about a dispute between — of all things — football players and owners of football teams, and the key legislation was designed to protect union workers back in 1932 who were being routinely jobbed….


Smart Links – 7/11/2011


This tattoo is very special, and is very Alabama.

Bill C. talks Texas Tech and baby faced OC Neal Brown.

How is Law School like the NFL draft?

Matt Waldman watches a lot of tape on Broncos receiver Eric Decker. But who will throw to him, if Orton is released or traded?

– Another good bit by Waldman: Evaluating the evaluator. Good outsiders’ perspective on how the heck to do evaluate talent well.

Ohio State: Keep the ring, but I’ll give back this trophy. Don’t worry about me. Really.

Will we drive self-driving cars? I’d happily outsource driving (assuming I won’t die).

Guided by Lit.

Mexico is doing better than you think.

Great Ken Auletta piece in the New Yorker about Cheryl Sandberg of Facebook.

Digital Love.

An old article, but a fantastic look at Karl Popper and the world (however bizarre and sheltered) of ideas.

The purpose of reason versus the search for truth?

From the NYT:

For centuries thinkers have assumed that the uniquely human capacity for reasoning has existed to let people reach beyond mere perception and reflex in the search for truth. Rationality allowed a solitary thinker to blaze a path to philosophical, moral and scientific enlightenment.

Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments. Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we’ll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena. According to this view, bias, lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another. Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth . . .

“Reasoning doesn’t have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions,” said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us.” Truth and accuracy were beside the point.

What are the implications of this for football, and football decisionmaking and strategy in particular?

Smart Links – 6/7/2011

Mike Leach wants everyone to chill:


The new British University model — academics for rent?

James Surowiecki on Elizabeth Warren.

Things continue to get weirder in West Virginia. Like silly NFL media with respect to the lockout, I’m not taking sides and my selfish interest is just Stewart, the AD, Holgorsen and co. finding some way to get a deal done so that I can watch that offense (and defense) on the field. And, speaking of defense, the X-Factor here is what defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel thinks. I don’t know him well but I have a hard time believing that he’s enjoying this between his old head coach and his new one, and I’m also not sure he needs either of them. And stuff like this fans the flames (though Holgorsen may well have been in the right if Stewart was being counterproductive; if the offense doesn’t work it’s Holgorsen’s future at stake.) Of course the best takes on this have come from Spencer Hall, per the ballad of Bill Stewart and College Coaches, Drinking, and the Two Men at the Rail.

Southern Cal stripped of title.

Profiles in profanity.

Isaac Asimov on what a library really is.

Taiwanese women “plank” for good.

Very interesting take on NFL v Brady arguments

From St. Louis University Professor Matt Bodie:

That’s why this injunction may not matter that much. Let’s say the court holds that Norris-LaGuardia prohibits the injunction. Well, that only removes the injunction against the lockout; it does not mean that the NFL won’t ultimately be liable for antitrust violations. In fact, Judge Benton seemed to indicate that antitrust damages would continue to accrue even if the lockout could not be enjoined under the NLA. Or, let’s say that the injunction is lifted because the nonstatutory labor exemption still applies. Well, even Clement admitted it can’t apply forever — so how long? Clement seemed to be pushing for at least a year, but Benton seemed comfortable with six months — which would be, according to his calculations, September 11. Would the antitrust violations and the injunction kick back in then?

So the hearing ultimately convinced me that (a) the players took a truly radical move by disclaiming and (b) this problem is not going away, even after the Eighth Circuit rules on the injunction. I had thought that the longer the lockout lasts, the more it favors the owners — players need paychecks after all. But what if the longer it lasts, the more antitrust damages that pile up against the league?


NFL and players argue in the 8th Circuit over the legality of the lockout

Listen to the oral argument here. I highly recommend doing this and not simply reading the summaries, if for no other reason than to hear two excellent advocates — Paul Clement for the NFL and Ted Olson for the players.

Update: I just finished listening to the oral argument, and I think, if there is no settlement, the NFL definitely wins this appeal.

The Associated Press summed up the argument thusly:

The NFL and its players went back to court Friday for a pivotal hearing before a federal appeals court on the legality of the lockout, now nearly three months old with no sign of a new collective bargaining agreement that would save the 2011 season.

The two sides each got roughly 30 minutes before a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, swapping sometimes-dense arguments over the lockout imposed by owners after labor talks fell apart in March.

The panel has twice decided to keep the lockout in place pending the full appeal. It did not issue an immediate decision and Judge Kermit Bye smiled as he told the attorneys before they left the courtroom: “We wouldn’t be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case.” . . .

At the heart of the hearing was U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s decision on April 25 to lift the lockout, saying it was illegal and agreeing with the players that they were suffering harm.

In a case Bye called complex, given its collision of antitrust and labor law, attorneys for both sides spent most of the 68-minute hearing arguing case law and legal precedent, at times pressed to elaborate by two judges – Steven Colloton and Duane Benton – whose earlier rulings sided with the league.


Bad Vlad: Thanks for the Super Bowl Ring

An old story I recently stumbled across:

Interception in Russia. At a conclave of global business leaders in St. Petersburg, an incident occurred that has the world, well, scratching its collective head. Executives of American companies . . . were at Konstantinovsky Palace near the north Russian metropolis on Saturday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin did his best to convince them that his country is still a safe, stable place for investors. That’s when New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, in a pique of international brotherhood, decided to show Putin a prized possession: his 2005 Super Bowl XXXIX ring. Suddenly the bridge between West and East, between those who use Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, was rent. Putin tried on the diamond-encrusted ring; he pocketed it; and left the conference. Did Kraft really intend it as a gift? Even in the interests of world peace and prosperity, that seems unlikely: This was the Pats winning the Bowl, after all. In a statement oddly reminiscent of traditional Kremlin idiom, Patriots spokesman Stacey James told The Associated Press that Kraft was traveling and he hadn’t spoken to him in four or five days, despite e-mails and calls: “He’s still overseas, I can’t even tell you where. …He’s not due back until next week.” James added, “It’s an incredible story. I just haven’t been able to talk to Robert Kraft to confirm the story.” However, a Kremlin official–who spoke anonymously, fearful of compromising his position, according to the AP–maintained the ring was a gift. “Such a present was made,” the official said. He said Putin donated the ring to the Kremlin library, where other foreign gifts are kept. James said the ring’s worth was “substantially more” than $15,000, as the value had been reported.


Smart Notes – run and shoot, film study, best and worst, oversigning – 5/16/2011

Film study, courtesy of Brophy. Auburn’s offense versus Oregon’s defense:

Check it all out, including TCU versus Wisconsin, here.

Shoot it. Al Black tape on installing the run and shoot, specifically the “choice” and “go” packages.

I appreciate your (in)consistency. Good stuff from Football Study Hall:

Biggest Difference Between Best and Worst Single-Season Performance, 1986-2010
1. Boise State (0.973 difference — 1.000 max, 0.027 min)
2. Kansas State (0.972 — 0.991 max, 0.019 min)
3. Louisville (0.946 — 0.975 max, 0.029 min)
4. Washington State (0.936 — 0.944 max, 0.008 min)
5. Houston (0.925 — 0.943 max, 0.019 min)
6. TCU (0.921 — 0.983 max, 0.063 min)
7. Washington (0.907 — 0.991 max, 0.083 min)
8. Rutgers (0.907 — 0.924 max, 0.017 min)
9. North Carolina (0.888 — 0.964 max, 0.075 min)
10. Miami-Ohio (0.869 — 0.897 max, 0.028 min)
. . .

And while we’re at it … here’s a much more entertaining list…

Smallest Difference Between Best and Worst Single-Season Performances, 1986-2010*
1. UL-Monroe (0.241 — 0.250 max, 0.009 min)
2. Florida (0.311 — 1.000 max, 0.689 min)
3. Buffalo (0.317 — 0.328 max, 0.008 min)
4. Kent State (0.348 — 0.357 max, 0.009 min)
5. New Mexico State (0.367 — 0.375 max, 0.008 min)
6. Penn State (0.395 — 0.981 max, 0.586 min)
7. Florida State (0.400 — 1.000 max, 0.600 min)
8. Tennessee (0.407 — 0.982 max, 0.575 min)
9. UL-Lafayette (0.425 — 0.434 max, 0.009 min)
10. Akron (0.425 — 0.453 max, 0.028 min)

So … I guess this means UL-Monroe is the Florida of losing? Or is Florida the UL-Monroe of winning?

– What does Mark Richt know about oversigning that we don’t? From GTP:


Smart Notes – Auburn offense, Rashard Mendenhall, UFL, Coase Theorem – 5/4/2011

Auburn cut-ups. Always good for the offseason:

Doc Sat shows how recruits “grow”. J.J. Watt and Nate Solder each gained 65 pounds.

Rashard Mendenhall gets himself in hot water by saying he doesn’t (necessarily) believe that Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. This isn’t the space for a long exegesis, but it very much reminds me of when Mos Def (an intelligent guy) went on the Bill Maher show (video here) and told Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie (who once had a fatwa issued against his life) basically the same thing as what Mendenhall said (and Hitchens destroys him). Ta-Nehisi Coates said everything there is to say on that subject better than I could, noting that while there’s a tradition of distrust and skepticism (good things), there must be limits; Bin Laden was not exactly bashful about taking credit for 9/11 or any of his other exploits.

How Drew Brees is working out during the lockout. Hat tip Drew Brees.


Smart Links – 5/2/2011

The all undrafted team. A couple are quite surprising. The sad part is with the lockout these are guys who have to sit on their thumbs and wait.

– Peter Bean goes all in on Jim Tressel, here and here.

– Someone unknowingly live tweeted the Bin Laden attack. I have to say among the many big winners last night, Twitter was among them. See this for the team that performed the strike.

Creative bookshelves.

More on “run fits,” an area of the game fans poorly understand.

Adults are betting on Pop Warner football. Just bizarre.

– How “dead money” haunts baseball teams.

– Airraid attack with a play-action twist? West Virginia had its spring game, and, oh, you know, Holgorsen’s offense scored 83 points (with some kind of strange scoring system he even claimed to not understand). Regardless, starting quarterback Geno Smith went 26 37 for 388 yards four touchdowns and no interceptions. But what jumped out to me from the video below were all the big plays off play-action. Video and more after the jump.