The collusion continues for the NFL.
Two years after the league tried to place extra pressure on the players in the season before the lockout by not treating the “uncapped year” like a truly uncapped year, the NFL took action against the teams that decided to treat the uncapped year like an uncapped year.
And now, to close the loop, NFL owners have unanimously decided, with one abstention and with the Redskins and Cowboys not voting, to reaffirm the $46 million in cap penalties. Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that a Tuesday morning vote resulted in 29 ayes, no nays, and one “pass.” (Our guess is that the Raiders abstained. After all, they abstained from the final vote on the new CBA, and they’re one of the two other teams to be prevented from sharing in the redistributed cap money from the Redskins and Cowboys.)
The move isn’t surprising. Now that the Redskins and Cowboys have taken legal action, the NFL needs to circle the Conestogas. And even if an initial vote was a lot closer, the NFL is more than smart enough to conduct a second clean-up vote that creates the impression of unanimity.
The fact that 29 teams think the league is right doesn’t make it right. Business owners often have a warped view of reality, convinced that their position is correct and any opposing view is wrong and any external body that would disagree is corrupt.
Moreover, rich guys don’t like being told what to do, especially by other rich guys.
In this case, two of the richest of the rich guys — Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder — also happen to be objectively correct, and we’ve yet to see any evidence to the contrary. No rules were broken, no policies were violated, and the contracts were approved when submitted.
But with the NFLPA already having waived any collusion claims and with Jones and Snyder apparently unwilling to pull the pin on the collusion grenade, the NFL doesn’t fear any potential fallout from the arbitration process, other than the possibility of having to refund the confiscated cap space.
The league would be wise to at least worry a little about a worst-case scenario. With Congress already sniffing around the bounty situation, all it takes is one particularly zealous and influential legislator to see this for what it really is (i.e., confirmation of a concerted effort to steamroll the union in 2010 and 2011) and to launch an effort to strip the league of the broadcast antitrust exemption.