Courtroom Sketches For NFL Hearing

Yesterday I was at the federal courthouse in St. Paul where lawyers from the NFL and the Players Union were arguing over the current breakdown of salary negotiations. I’m not a sports fan so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. All I know is that whenever there’s large amounts of money at stake (in this case billions of dollars) there is no shortage of people trying to grab as big a piece of the pie as they can. The situation with the NFL is no different.

A lawyer speaks on behalf of the Players. Two NFL lawyers are seated at the table behind him. Copyright © 2011 by Cedric Hohnstadt. All rights reserved.
A lawyer speaks for the NFL. Copyright © 2011 by Cedric Hohnstadt. All rights reserved.
Lawyers for the NFL on the left, lawyers for the players on the right. Copyright © 2011 by Cedric Hohnstadt. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2011 by Cedric Hohnstadt. All rights reserved.

This was my highest-profile case to date with my sketches being picked up by several national new networks (MSNBC, ESPN, NNS, and the NFL Network) as well as all the local stations. But it started with a scare – I almost didn’t get into the courtroom.

I’ve sketched for murder trials and public scandals so I figured a group of lawyers arguing about union rules wouldn’t draw that much media attention. Boy was I wrong. I arrived to the courthouse 40 minutes early which is usually plenty of time. The courtroom was already packed and the security guards refused to let me squeeze in. I asked if I could just stand outside and watch through the glass on the doors and they wouldn’t even allow that. Instead I had to sit in an overflow room and watch the proceedings on video feed.

That turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the camera gave me an excellent view of the podium from which the lawyers were speaking—better than if I had actually been in the room—though not much else. So I did a couple of sketches of the lawyers and then ran them out to the news trucks. By the time everyone finished shooting my drawings the judge called a break for lunch. As soon as the room emptied I grabbed a seat in the public gallery and started working up a sketch of the room. I was able to finish the wide shot and squeeze in a quick sketch of the judge before the hearings ended at around 3pm. Whew! Next time I think I’ll bring a lawn chair and a blanket and camp outside the night before.

If you’d like to find out more about the challenges of being a courtroom sketch artist, check out my earlier blog post What It’s Like To Do Courtroom Sketching. For more samples of my courtroom sketch art visit my website.