The NFL players’ recent run of good luck in court (temporary stay of the ruling lifting the lockout notwithstanding) began with Judge David Doty finding on March 1 that the NFL violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement by failing to maximize shared TV revenue when negotiating broadcast contract extensions that beefed up the networks’ obligation to pay money to the owners during a work stoppage.
On Thursday, Judge Doty will conduct a hearing on the question of the damages to be paid by the NFL to the players for leaving money on the table in 2009. The players have asked for amounts that could approach or surpass $1 billion.
According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the players are now angling for even more.
Kaplan reports that the players want to expand the scope of the ruling to include not just TV deals but all commercial contracts. “One can assume Defendants’ illegal scheme extended to vendor contracts beyond the broadcast contracts at issue here,” the players’ lawyers said last month in a court filing. “Notwithstanding the limited scope of this proceeding, as guardian of the Class, this Court has authority to expand the inquiry beyond the broadcast contracts and redress related violations, in further proceedings.”
Per Kaplan, “[a]lmost all NFL contracts with sponsors” contain provisions guaranteeing payment in the event of a lockout. Under the same reasoning that Judge Doty accepted in the case that focused on the TV deals, he could find that the league took less money during normal operations in the hopes of getting money for nothing during a lockout.
The move likely is all about leverage. As in the players trying to get more of it. And it could expose the lawyers to scrutiny for failing to make the argument earlier, especially if the applicable statute of limitations has expired, making the allegation too little, too late.
Indeed, the contention should have been included in the original lockout insurance claim. If it wasn’t, and if it’s now too late to pursue it, well, here’s hoping that the lawyers have been paying their malpractice insurance premiums.