Legal battle between NFL, union gets turned up a notch

At any given time, the NFL and the players’ union find themselves involved in a variety of legal proceedings — grievances, arbitrations, appeal hearings, etc.  It’s standard, garden-variety stuff from which hard feelings rarely emerge, or linger.

Lately, the disputes have become more numerous, and more pointed.  From StarCaps to the attack on the league’s ability to collect television money during a lockout, the NFLPA recently has been giving the league the business on a regular basis.

And now the NFL has been drawn into a fight that neither the league nor the union started.

According to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, the NFLPA has served subpoenas upon the league, Commissioner Roger Goodell, and former NFLPA President Troy Vincent as part of the pre-trial discovery process in the lawsuit filed last year against the union by Mary Moran, a former NFLPA employee.  Moran claims that the union retaliated against her because of her role as a confidential witness in a Department of Labor investigation regarding the matter.  The subpoenas request the production of documents relating to allegedly
secret communications between Vincent and the league.

It’s standard practice in civil litigation for the parties to harvest any and all potentially relevant documents.  In this case, however, it would make more sense for Moran’s lawyer to be serving these subpoenas.  The decision of the union to do so highlights the NFLPA’s unusual posture in the Moran case.  On one hand, the union needs to defend itself against the claim that it retaliated against Moran.  On the other hand, the union’s overall interests would be served if it’s proven that the league and Vincent were colluding.

We predict that Vincent will respond by saying he has no responsive documents (even if he does), and that the NFL will object to the subpoena, arguing that the question of whether the league and Vincent had communications has no relevance to Mary Moran’s claims against the union, and that the request is not “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” in that case.  The NFL also will point out that the union is using the Moran lawsuit to fish for materials that could give the NFLPA leverage in the broader CBA battle between the two parties.

Either way, we’ll forget all about this one if/when the union files suit against the NFL for collusion during the uncapped year.

13 responses to “Legal battle between NFL, union gets turned up a notch

  1. If the NFLPA wants the owners to open their books, then the NFLPA needs to have the same transparent operations.
    Bunch of crybabies that have no business sense.

  2. Translation:
    The team that wins SB 45 will be gloating for at least two years.
    Ain’t no 2011-12 season folks.
    Hope I am wrong but I doubt I am.

  3. Since there has been no collusion we don’t have to worry about that law suit. It’s kind of like the AZ immigration law. It states very cleary that it doesn’t discriminate but The Justice Dept is still suing on those grounds. They are just as dumb as the Players Union.

  4. Based on so many of these players that get these millions are bankrupt in 3 years or so….these turds couldn’t last a month without a paycheck.

  5. I never thought I would side with the league over the players, but the NFLPA is really looking bad through all this. I just want football, and at this rate there is no way a new CBA is in place before the 2011 season.
    Greedy bastards…

  6. A 2012 first-round pick is going to be worth a lot more than most years, because it’s going to be loaded with a lot of guys who’d normally leave after this season.

  7. Everyone relax. It’s not going to come to a lockout. Nobody wants a lockout, players or owners. The players cannot afford to be locked out so they will be strong-armed into a less favorable agreement. Much like the owners were in 2006.
    An agreement will be reached, but I’m sure both parties will want an opt out clause included. The players would gain no advantage by allowing the owners to lock them out. The owners will use their TV money to cover expenses while the players will have zero dollars coming in. Then the players would have even less leverage.
    Not gonna happen people. Unpucker the a-holes.

  8. I lean towards we will not see a stoppage of football. BUT there is far too little information to bet the professor is correct.
    Just like the guy who says the lawsuit is baseless just like the suit against the AZ law. Who says some idiot is not going to rule against all reasonable logic. I mean we have the Supreme Court using the laws of other nations as foundations of decisions on if a US law violtes the Constitution.
    Who knows what will cause a swing in either direction causing one side to either cave or one side to ask for the moon and be confident stopping football will get them there.
    Remember, MLB stopped playing last time around even though a lawsuit was pending that would resolve the issue. The lawsuit was decided in December. They walked out just before the playoffs. It was the lawsuit ruling that brought the agreement, not the lack of a World Series. The fact the players went on strike had no baring on the ruling in the courts. So we could have had the World Series and the players get what they wanted through the lawsuit.
    Point is, dont expect reasonable decision making.

  9. An interesting take on this from player rep, Pete Kendall;
    Late last fall, I was asked by our Executive Director to be the permanent player representative for the NFLPA at CBA bargaining sessions, and I have been present at virtually all of those sessions since then. As a recently retired player I believe that I have been able to add a player’s perspective to the sessions and with that in mind I wanted to give you my take on the NFL’s current economic proposal.
    Over the last six (6) months, you have heard and read about bargaining sessions that have been taking place between the NFL owners and the NFLPA over the terms of a new CBA. During those sessions, the NFL has proposed a major reduction in the percentage of football related revenue that would be included in the cap for player salaries and benefits when compared to the existing CBA. As a justification for the reduction, the owners have asserted that their costs have increased substantially since the capped system came into effect in 1994 and an adjustment was necessary to incentivize owners to create new revenue streams in the future. Stories in the press about the NFL’s proposal have been conflicting and misleading, with some saying that the NFL’s proposal is not the significant rollback that the NFLPA has suggested. Those stories are unfortunately inaccurate. Here are the facts about the NFL’s proposal.
    The current salary cap system provides for a percentage cap on the amount of football related revenue to be spent on player salaries and benefits. The revenue included in that calculation, minus more than $1.0 billion in agreed upon expenses, is defined under the CBA as “Total Revenue” or “TR”. The current CBA provided that the players would receive 58% of TR for the 2010 and 2011 NFL seasons, if the NFL had not opted to terminate the CBA and a cap had remained in effect during those seasons.
    The NFL’s current proposal would keep the player’s percentage of TR at 58%, but importantly it would reduce the amount of money that is included in the definition of TR by 18%, to allow for certain additional expense deductions. These additional expenses would be on top of the already existing $1.0 billion in expense deductions. If the 18% expense deduction were applied to the 2008 league year revenues it would result in an additional expense credit of more than $1.3 billion. The obvious effect of this 18% expense deduction is that the players would get the same percentage of a much smaller revenue pie. Instead of each dollar of Total Revenue being included in the cap calculation, only 82 cents of each Total Revenue dollar would be included. That translates into an 18% reduction in the total amount of money included in the cap.
    Expressed another way, the NFL owners are asking that the players reduce their percentage of TR, as it is currently defined, from 58% to 47.56% of TR. This lowering of the cap by 10.44 points represents an 18% reduction in the applicable percentage. Expressed in dollars, a cap of $116 million per club as calculated under the existing definition of TR, would be reduced to $95.12 million under the NFL’s proposal. Thus, if the impact of the proposal were to be spread evenly over all player salaries and benefits across the league, each player would have to take a cut of 18% in salary and benefits.
    You would have to turn back the clock to the early 1980’s, in the days before free agency, to find a season in which the players’ share of football revenue was as low as that being proposed by the NFL owners for 2010 and beyond. Thus, the only way to describe this proposal is that it is a dramatic reduction in player compensation, which is not justified given the NFL’s unprecedented growth and their failure to provide meaningful financial data relating to their expenses.
    Despite the owners’ failure to provide the financial data to support their assertion that expenses have escalated faster than revenues, the Players remain willing to create incentives for NFL owners to develop new revenue streams for their clubs. Our current proposal would specifically allow NFL clubs to obtain substantially increased deductions for costs incurred to generate new revenue streams. We have also proposed additional credits for stadium construction and/or renovation. But we should not and will not agree to pay for items such as expenses to operate practice facilities or for travel costs as the owners have included in this 18% proposal.

  10. Are you guys sure these League vs Union stories don’t belong in the Turd Watch section?
    I know, I know, the Turd Watch is for suspensions, police blotters etc. But this looming work stoppage pretty much stinks, much like a turd.

  11. Seriously, the worst thing you can do is not go on strike, but go on strike in the middle of the year and kill a superbowl. Baseball players did this and they got killed for it and fans were put off big time by it. So go ahead players strike right before a superbowl and see what happens. There are plenty of pricks like myself who didnt go back to baseball games for years and wont go back or watch your precious sport either.

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