Cover Story: NFL Lockout? League in limbo

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The NFL lockout is over.  A judge sided with the players.  And Bank of America Stadium was open for business Tuesday.  Sort of.

Tuesday was the first day since they were locked out nearly seven weeks ago that players could actually show up for work.

But no one save Panthers Kicker John Kasay did and he stayed for only about 10 minutes.

A league that was supposed to be open for business doesn't look that way.

In Panther land the hallways are empty.  The weight room - the normal cling and clang of free weights - is silent.

And the only activity on the field at B of A Stadium.. was a promo shoot with Panthers' mascot Sir Purr.

The NFL's 2011 Draft starts Thursday.  But even the Panthers' front office seems up in the air on where they go from here.

"I really don't have any assumptions.  Joe Gibbs always said you can't worry about things you can't control.  We just keep.. we just keep doing things like we always do them," said Marty Hurney, Panthers general manager.

The NFL is appealing to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis hoping to overturn Federal Judge Susan Nelson's ruling ending the lockout.

League owners have taken cases to the 8th Circuit before dating back to the 70s.  Whether it falls their way we won't know for about a month.

This much appears certain the 8th Circuit will likely decide if the season goes forward.

"If the 8th Circuit decides with the players there will be games this year.  If the 8th Circuit decides with the owners there most likely will be missed games this year," said attorney Josh Widlansky.

Meaning - back to square one. Labor - pains.  No one budging.

"So how many spots do you have here?  We have 27.  And there's a waiting list?  Always has been."

David Perlman owner of Action Graphics at the corner of Morehead and Mint counts on leasing out his parking lot during Panthers season.

PSL owners pay a premium for prime real estate so close to the stadium.  Without a season he's looking at losing big time at least 13-K in parking.

"I'll just have to make it up in the printing.. there are other ways to make money.  This is mainly a printing company you know," said Perlman.

The impact is wide-reaching.

A study by the NFL Players' Association estimated $160 million is generated in NFL cities over the course of an entire season.

So for now from the sidelines we wait and watch.  Players have won the first round.

"Although it was an important day yesterday and a decision that was very favorable to the players' position.. it's far from over at this point," said former Washington Redskins player Pete Kendall.

The NFL is asking for the lockout ruling - which went in the players' favor - not to take effect while the league is appealing to the 8th Circuit.

The judge who lifted the lockout is expected to decide Wednesday whether she should put her order on hold pending further appeals.

So can players report to work?

The league issued a statement Tuesday that called for players to be "treated with courtesy and respect" if they show up at work.

But the NFL said it needs "a few days to sort this out" before "football activities" can take place.

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