A federal judge in New Orleans has all but ruled out any prospects for a settlement in the case of four NFL players challenging their bounty suspensions.
US District Judge Ginger Berrigan issued an order Wednesday in which she lamented the failure of settlement talks, then asked for more filings pertaining to the players’ request for a temporary restraining order that would allow them to return to their teams while their case against the NFL proceeds.
Berrigan wrote that she believes the four players’ interests have been undermined by ‘‘longstanding acrimony among all of the attorneys representing all of the parties that predates these disputes.’’
Her comments were an apparent allusion to rivalries between representatives of the NFL and NFL Players Association that date to previous disagreements, including the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that came together only after a bitter, several-month lockout.
Berrigan wrote that she found the failure of settlement talks ‘‘extremely disappointing’’ because she believed ‘‘they would likely have resulted in some relief for all four [of] the players.’’
The judge also mentioned that she believes all sides have competing agendas, leaving her concerned about a possible conflict of interest for three players who are represented by the same lawyers representing the NFLPA.
Hoping to resolve those concerns, the judge asked the NFLPA, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita, and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to file papers by Thursday explaining why the players and the union do not need separate lawyers.
The judge also ordered the league to file by Thursday its response to the NFLPA’s request earlier this week for a temporary restraining order on behalf of Smith, Fujita, and Hargrove.
While the judge did not indicate when she might rule, most NFL teams, including the Saints and Browns, open the regular season on Sunday.
Fans sound off
NFL fans told commissioner Roger Goodell they want cheaper tickets for exhibition games and an end to blackouts. Fans up north are looking for more cold-weather Super Bowls, and maybe even a chance to host the draft.
Goodell heard all those suggestions and more during an hourlong session with fans from all 32 teams Wednesday.
Among the hotter topics: cheaper tickets for exhibition games, when starters sit. Goodell said preseason is a big issue among fans, noting ‘‘I hear that almost No. 1.
‘‘I think it’s probably fair to say people probably are not fans of the preseason,’’ he said.
Goodell said the league has discussed eliminating two preseason games entirely. ‘‘I would tell you that we’re anywhere from a 16 and 2 format to an 18 and 2 format, so pretty much everything is on the drawing board,’’ he said.
Former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell has been hospitalized in Baltimore.
The team says the 87-year-old Modell is at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of public and community relations for the team, did not know Modell’s condition, but Cleveland television station WKYC reported that Modell’s vital organs are failing.
Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns for $4 million in 1961 and moved the franchise to Baltimore in 1996. The move made him a hero in Baltimore but a pariah in Cleveland.
Bumps and bruises
Dolphins tackle Jake Long was limited in practice because of a right knee injury he suffered last week . . . Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher was a full participant as the Bears continued to prepare for their season opener against the Colts. Urlacher injured his left knee in the final game last season and has been sidelined for most of the preseason . . . Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s sore back is making him a bit of a question mark for the opener at Arizona. Lynch will be evaluated day to day . . . First-round pick Michael Brockers, who has what’s been reported as a high right ankle sprain that could sideline him the first few games, did not practice for the Rams . . . Redskins strong safety Brandon Meriweather could miss up to four weeks because of sprained ligaments in his left knee. Meriweather injured his knee in the first quarter of a preseason game against Chicago Aug. 18 . . . Bills owner Ralph Wilson, 93, is back home and doing well after being released from the hospital. The team has not revealed why Wilson was hospitalized.