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Will there be pro football in 2011?

March 12, 2011

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Despite the players association’s action to decertify and file a class-action lawsuit against the NFL yesterday and the league's decision to lock them out, the 2011 season isn’t necessarily doomed. Much would be left up to the courts. Here are some of the possibilities:

▸The court grants the players’ injunction to stop the lockout. Even if the NFL appeals that ruling, league business would have to be conducted in the interim. Chance of harming season: None.

▸While the sides are squaring off in court, they could continue to make proposals on a new collective bargaining agreement and find common ground (highly unlikely). Chance of harming season: None.

▸The NFL could decide against a lockout and impose the 2010 league rules, which were agreed upon by both sides in the last CBA. The union will challenge those rules in court, but could lose a battle to have them immediately halted. Chance of harming season: Low.

▸The NFL locks out the players, but the players’ injunction to stop it is denied. At that point, the union would have to decide how long it could afford a work stoppage. The start of the season would become the new deadline for a deal. Chance of harming season: High.

▸The lockout is upheld in court and the players decide to strike — something they said they would not do. Again, the season is held hostage. Chance of harming season: High.

GREG A. BEDARD

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