March 11, the NFL players association decertified itself. The next day, the NFL officially announced a lockout of players by team owners. A lockout effectively closes down the league's activities and will halt any trade activities and any other dealings between players and clubs; it also puts the 2011 season at risk. At least 10 players, including leading quarterbacks, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, filed antitrust lawsuits against the NFL to attempt to halt a lockout.
One month later, on April 12, in a federal district court ordered mediation, the league began a series of negotiations with representatives for the players in order to resolve the labor dispute. After the first day of mediation, the likelihood of going back on the practice field may not be until June. Lawyers for the players argued the lockout is not valid because they no longer are a union. The NFL attorney countered that the players union's decertification is a sham.
Federal Judge Susan Nelson said she will need a couple of weeks to make a decision, but all might not be lost for the fans. In the NFL labor dispute storm whipping up, an early trend may be emerging with regard to ticket sales for next season: The lack of price increases. Stay Tuned! [AR]