The 12-page ruling issued Tuesday by Special Master Stephen Burbank, a copy of which PFT has obtained, contains a lot of words and citations to legal authority and reasoning and legal mumbo-jumbo. The dismissal of the grievance filed by the Cowboys and Redskins under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement ultimately arises from the fact that, because the NFL and NFLPA agreed to reallocate salary cap money from the Cowboys and Redskins to other teams as part of an amendment to the CBA, the Cowboys and Redskins have no basis to challenge the maneuver under the CBA.
But Burbank hints at what could come next. Near the conclusion of his ruling, Burbank says that, “if the Clubs ‘are dissatisfied with the representation of [their] multi-employer association,’ they retain whatever ‘remedies [they may have] against the association under contract and agency law.’”
In English, this means the Cowboys and Redskins could sue the NFL for violating internal rules and regulations and/or any applicable fiduciary duties that require the league to represent the interests of all teams equally and fairly. Burbank’s ruling seems to suggest that the Cowboys and Redskins tried to push such principles under the CBA, which means that they very well could choose to pursue such arguments in a full-blown lawsuit.
But it’s one thing to file a grievance under the 2011 CBA. It’s quite another to go full-blown Al Davis nuclear and sue their 30 partners in a court of law, especially since at some point a judge could decide that the entire dispute arises from illegal collusion arising under the 2006 CBA, which could create major problems when the time comes to negotiate the next new CBA — especially if the NFL tries once again during the uncapped year to enforce a verbal understanding that the uncapped year won’t be treated as truly uncapped.
Speaking of the 2006 CBA, a chance remains that the Cowboys and Redskins will next turn to the expired labor deal, since that’s the labor deal under which the disputed player contracts were negotiated and approved. That avenue has merit, and risk, because the appeal process eventually could land on the desk of Judge David Doty, who likely wouldn’t hesitate to call collusion if he sees it.
And he undoubtedly will see collusion. Because, frankly, there was collusion. The failure of the Cowboys and Redskins to participate in collusion resulted in the cap penalties to which the NFLPA inexplicably agreed.
The more the Cowboys and Redskins push this issue, the greater the chance that someone who could significant injure the overall interests of the NFL will figure this out, and take action that could hurt everyone.
Including the Cowboys and Redskins.