The nuclear option has been invoked, as most of us have expected/feared. There's still a lot of noise and rumors floating around, but here's the facts to know:
- The NFLPA has officially de-certified. As of this moment, they only exist as a trade-association, and no longer represent the players.
- With no union representing them, the players are now free to file lawsuits against the NFL, and they indeed have. These suits are intended to declare the NFL's locking out of non-unionized players as antitrust violations. For now, the official title of the suit is "Brady et al vs. National Football League et al". Make of that what you will.
- With the midnight deadline passing, the NFL is now in lockout mode.
That's really it, as far as facts go. The rest is pure speculation. Judge David S. Doty has been the unsung hero of this shitstorm; he called the owners' bluff on their TV deal, and if the antitrust deal were handed to him, he may very well be the man who saves the 2011 season. But it hasn't happened yet. There are whispers that the draft may be postponed, if not outright canceled, but there's nothing concrete to those rumors yet.
Today's events marked a huge paradigm shift in the future of the NFL. Negotiations are over, the players are now free-lancers, and the fight will go to the courtroom. Where it goes from here, nobody will know. At least the offseason finally got interesting.