This is what the arrogant, disruptive, and tone deaf U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals just did with its ruling.
It took the players, grabbed them by the throat, moved them toward a chopping block, lowered their collective heads and then handed the owners an axe.
"Go ahead," the 8th Circuit said, "and take a swing."
Now this is a crucial moment for the owners. It might even be a crucial moment in the history of the sport. What do the owners do with that axe?
If they use that newfound power given to them by the 8th circuit, and demand more from the players during what have been especially tense negotiations, then the season will be delayed, at best, and large swaths of it could be eradicated, at worst. If not lost all together.
The 8th Circuit decision was a total victory for the owners. Free agency and other legal aspects aside, the most crucial point remains that for the foreseeable future, players won't be getting paid.
To repeat: the players aren't getting paychecks. If this extends into the season, game checks will be missed. That is the ultimate power the owners now possess. We knew this was the likely outcome, but now that outcome is official. Let's not fool ourselves. The owners received a huge win with this decision. It potentially changes everything.