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National Football League players have no right...

National Football League players have no right to sue the league under antitrust laws because the labor laws that govern collective bargaining supersede them, a league attorney told a federal appeals panel in St. Paul, Minn.

If a three-judge panel of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sides with the owners, the players’ union could not proceed with its claim that the NFL’s free-agency system restricts competition and suppresses wages.

But if the panel decides not to rule on the league’s request, or rules in favor of the players, the union could proceed with a trial, scheduled for November before U.S. District Judge David Doty in Minneapolis, said Paul Tagliabue, an NFL lawyer.

The appeals panel took the case under advisement and did not say when it would rule.

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