This issue is far too important to be subject to the limited viewing of a FanShot.
I have yet to take Business Law (though I'm looking forward to it) at UConn, but this article spells it out fairly clearly. It is very well-written, yet entirely understandable. Here are the major points worth noting and discussing:
If the Supreme Court ruled that the NFL could act as a single entity, with all its member clubs acting in concert, provisions against collusion in many ways would be severely affected or eliminated altogether. Basically, the league could establish salary ceilings for players in ways that would be illegal under other circumstances, effectively breaking the union and making a lockout inevitable. But the ruling against the NFL, given by Justice John Paul Stevens, was unanimous.
That decision, of course, was in favor of American Needle.
ESPN's John Clayton, a man who keeps his finger on the pulse of the league's labor matters with more knowledge than most:
Clayton intimated that if the NFL lost the appeal, circumstances would lean toward a resolution in the tension that currently affects the 2011 season. "Because, if the NFL wins it, they can really go for the jugular. They can control salaries, and control the system more," Clayton said of a prospective NFL win. "If they lose the case, there may be more of a effort to try and get a [new CBA] deal done. Right now, it doesn't appear that the NFL wants to get a deal done, but it's so early to say. And let's put it this way: Do the owners want a lockout? No. They want to run their business. They've got an $8 billion business, and if they lock out, all they have left is $5 million in TV money that's really loaned to them. And they've all got debts on their stadiums and everything else. Right now, it's too early to call a lockout. The big thing is seeing where American Needle goes, and seeing who has the leverage."
With the league's loss in this case, and the spring Owners' Meetings beginning today, it's a very interesting and important time for the short-term future of the league. ... The case now goes back to distinct court, but a unanimous Supreme Court ruling is a fairly definitive flag in the ground. The nation's highest court has told the most powerful sports league in the country that it can't do whatever it wants. The repercussions should come soon.
It may be optimistic of me to see it this way, but I think this signals the beginning of the end of the idea that a lockout is all but guaranteed in 2011.
Bring on the football, and congratulations to both American Needle and the NFLPA.