Draft allows NFL to get back to football 

The commissioner, Roger Goodell, says the NFL Draft is one of his favorite events. “Because,” he told USA Today, “it’s all about football.” Apparently so is the honorable Susan Richard Nelson, who has decided people who play it for a living, well, ought to be able to play it for a living.

Nelson is the U.S. District judge in St. Paul, Minn., who ordered an end to the lockout declared last month by the owners against the players.

For the moment at least, we can think about picks not plaintiffs, defenders not defendants.

Think about Ryan Leaf chosen second in 1998 and Tom Brady chosen 199th in 2000.

Think of Joe Montana and Jim Druckenmiller, think of Jim Plunkett and JaMarcus Russell. Think of what was, and what might be.

The 49ers have the seventh selection in the first round Thursday and have declared they won’t take a quarterback as their top choice, which, if you’ve been with us through the decades of misleading rhetoric means they might take a quarterback.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated, wrote the Niners probably will draft Prince Amukamara, a cornerback from Nebraska, when by all rights, they should take Andy Dalton, the QB who led Texas Christian to the Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

The Raiders are without a first-round selection, unless they make a trade, unable to draft until the 48th pick overall, No. 16 in the second round. “If there’s a great player out there,” the new coach Hue Jackson said in classic footballese, “I don’t want to pass him.”

Then don’t.

Judge Nelson granted the injunction against the lockout because she said it was causing irreparable harm to people whose careers are notably brief.

And isn’t it interesting two huge cases involving sports, directly or indirectly, have been held in federal courts presided over by women named Susan — Nelson in the NFL labor dispute, Illston in the Barry Bonds perjury trial in San Francisco?

The decision by judge Nelson, of course being appealed by the league, means teams would be allowed to hold workouts and players would be permitted to meet with trainers to rehab and coaches for film study.

For new Niners coach Jim Harbaugh, that would be particularly beneficial. It wouldn’t hurt Hue Jackson either, although as he was Oakland’s offensive coordinator last season, there is familiarity for the players with his system and for Jackson with the players.

If nothing else, to borrow from Goodell, the injunction to end the lockout means the draft will be all about football. Somewhere in the future a season is inevitable, so they might as well get out of the court room and into the training

Jim Quinn, the attorney who argued the players’ case to Nelson, told the New York Times about the decision, “It’s one more loss in a long line of losses for [the league]. It wasn’t at all unexpected.”

The NFL, however, contended, “We believe federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes.”

What you have to believe is with a $9 billion business as is the NFL, there was going to be football in 2011. There’s beer to sell, stadiums to fill, television networks to satisfy.

Nelson has put us all on the clock.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

About The Author

Art Spander

Art Spander

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.
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