The 58-page antitrust lawsuit filed by various players against the NFL (we’re up to page 36) includes former Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller as a plaintiff. His presence has prompted some to speculate that the lawsuit is aimed at scuttling the draft.
It’s not, at least not yet. The CBA contemplates a 2011 draft, even if the CBA will be expired when the 2011 draft commences.
Miller’s presence in the action allows an attack on any type of rookie salary cap, either via a rookie wage scale or the “entering player pool” used in past years under the labor deal. The lawsuit alleges that the CBA makes no provision for the use of the entering player pool in 2011, and the lawsuit contends that any restriction on the pay received by incoming rookies constitutes an antritrust violation.
If the lawsuit is still around in 2012, there’s a good chance it will be amended to include another incoming rookie, with the goal of attacking the draft as an antitrust violation. (Indeed, the complaint mentions that a less restrictive draft was found to be a violation of antitrust laws by a federal court in 1976.)
Since the league consists of 32 separate businesses, the players will argue that a system of allocating potential employees violates the antitrust laws. For now, though, the argument isn’t ripe.
Eventually, it’ll be riper than a spotted plantain.
All that said, it’s hard not to wonder whether Miller’s decision to become one of the thorns in the side of the league before he even enters it will hurt his draft stock. Apart from whether players could be blackballed, some could view Miller as a rebel or a loose cannon, and it could be a factor in the final assessment of him as a prospect.