In a 60-page brief filed Tuesday in federal court, the NFL has outlined the many errors it contends Judge Shira Scheindlin made in ruling that Maurice Clarett must be allowed to enter the upcoming NFL draft.
The brief asks that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York overturn Scheindlin's February ruling after it hears oral arguments April 19 in the NFL's appeal to keep players who are not at least three years past high school graduation out of this year's draft.
The two-day draft starts five days days later, but the Court of Appeals, in agreeing to appoint a three-judge panel to hear the oral arguments, has acted unusually swiftly and there are indications a ruling could come before the draft.
According to Wednesday's editions of USA Today, the NFL contends that "Scheindlin 'fundamentally misread' previous court decisions, misapplied important labor laws and ruled for Clarett without first requiring him to show how keeping him from entering the draft harmed competition."
If her ruling stands, Clarett, Southern Cal wide receiver Mike Williams and seven other college and high school students who applied for the draft would be eligible to be selected. If the NFL prevails, Clarett could appeal further and if he wins the NFL could hold a supplementary draft for Clarett and Williams.
According to USA Today, the NFL questions most points of Scheindlin's ruling. The league argues that if the ruling is not overturned, it should be returned to district court to correct its errors. NFL lawyers contend that federal case law exempts the league from Clarett's anti-trust claim.
Scheindlin ruled in part that in barring underclassmen from the draft, the NFL violated anti-trust law because the rule was developed as part of collective bargaining and unfairly excludes Clarett because as a college underclassman he is not covered by the league's collective bargaining agreement.
If Clarett loses and he and Williams are barred from either the regular draft and a supplementary draft, they likely would have to play in Canada or remain inactive for a season, as they have likely forfeited their college eligibility by declaring for the draft.