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UPDATE: The NFL locked out the players at midnight, as soon as they could.
The 5:00pm EST deadline has passed, and (as announced on ESPN) the NFL Players’ Association has decertified, and no longer exists as a union. With no more CBA, individual players will file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL and owners. A lockout, now widely considered inevitable, would also be challenged in the same way.
After federal mediation brought some common ground on rookie wage scales and the NFLPA insisted that an 18-game schedule wouldn’t happen, vast differences in opinions remained.
Just before the 5:00pm deadline, NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith demanded 10 years of audits from all teams’ financial data in order to agree to another extension. That didn’t happen, and the players have given up their collective bargaining rights in order to take a shot at bigger gains in the courts.
With Judge Doty in Minnesota essentially committed to ruling against the league, the stage is set for ugly appeals battles. With a head-to-head battle between elites like Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning against the NFL’s army of lawyers, this could take awhile. We’ll see what happens after 11:59pm EST, when the NFL will be able to impose a lockout.