The NFL passed a milestone Thursday, though the owners are probably the only ones who might take pride in it. The current lockout’s 58th day surpassed the 1982 strike as the longest work stoppage in NFL history. But instead of streamers and noisemakers, the occasion was marked by a court hearing, rumors, reduced unofficial player workouts and fan discontent.
A new AdWeek/Harris poll showed that 19 percent of 2,124 respondents said they would be less inclined to watch the NFL if the season is delayed — a real possibility if the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals does not force the league to open business after its June 3 hearing on U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson’s injunction.
On the day their rookie minicamp would have started if there was no lockout, unofficial passing camps saw fewer players. The Giants had only five in their final workout Thursday, including an undrafted free agent who worked despite being unclaimable and unsignable under lockout rules.
In a two-hour hearing in Minnesota, U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty heard players ask for $707 million in damages for the owners ill-gotten $4 billion of TV money they had planned to use as a war chest. Doty is expected to award damages next week, and the owners will automatically appeal to eliminate any negotiating leverage the decision might have afforded the players.
Doty also voiced his displeasure that the sides had not reached a settlement, though court-mediated negotiations are set to resume Monday in Minnesota after a month’s hiatus, with Giants owner John Mara in attendance.
In addition to the on-field and off-field realities of the situation, rumors persist that the league will shut down if the appellate court lifts the lockout. Though Commissioner Roger Goodell has never acknowledged that as a concrete plan, he hasn’t dismissed it in recent statements, either.
In short, the lockout continues unabated, to no one’s profit.