In hindsight, Doty’s ruling was a no-brainer

We’ve had a chance to read every word of the 28-page ruling issued Tuesday afternoon by Judge David Doty, and once we got to the end we realized that, for a change, we had pegged this one from what the hip in the crowd would call “jump street.”  (Fortunately, we ain’t hip.)

The union’s challenge to the so-called “lockout insurance” provision in the league’s renegotiated network contracts arose in June 2010, while I was driving to New York for the first-ever PFT summit meeting.

“When I saw the posting on my Sprint device during a Cracker Barrel break somewhere between Chambersburg and Harrisburg, I suspected that the effort simply reflected the union’s frustration that the owners have found a way to ensure that payments can still be made on the significant debt from the purchase of franchises and/or the construction of stadiums in the absence of games actually being played,” a nine months younger version of yours truly wrote at the time.

“But then it occurred to me during the early portion of the second act of Jersey Boys, when the guys were trying to figure out how to pay off Tommy DeVito’s $150,000 debt to Norman Waxman.  The entire player compensation model arises from the league’s ability to generate revenue.  So the league arguably — if not actually — has a fiduciary duty to maximize revenue.  By securing leverage-building terms like ongoing payments during a work stoppage, the league necessarily has failed to maximize revenue, since the right to ongoing payments in the event that games aren’t being played has an inherent value that could have been converted to dollars and cents paid to the league, and shared with the union.”

Without delving any farther into legalese, that’s exactly what Judge David Doty found.  The league had a responsibility to max out the money on behalf of the NFL and the players.  The league instead embarked on a strategy of inserting and/or beefing up language that would require the networks to continue to make payments even if there’s no product, and that would make the repayment obligation by the league as favorable as possible.

But don’t take our word for it (as if you ever would).  Consider this series of quotes from the ruling, followed by our take on each one.

Out of respect for those of you who don’t care, we’ll engage in that exercise after the proverbial jump.


Quote: “Existing broadcast contracts effectively prevented the NFL from collecting revenue during a lockout in 2011 because the contracts did not require broadcasters to pay rights fees during a lockout or required the NFL to repay lockout fees in 2011.”

Interpretation: Though language requiring ongoing payments during a work stoppage has been present in network deals for years, the league faced a problem in 2009. Hoping to set the table for a lockout (real or feigned), the league needed to get the right language into the deals. So the league embarked on renegotiating and extending the contracts with the goal, at least in part, of inserting language to ensure that the money will be paid in 2011, and that it won’t have to be paid back until a later date, it at all.

Quote: “[S]ome of the NFL’s loan obligations include ‘average media revenues’ covenants which provide that an ‘event of default’ occurs if average annual league media revenues fall below a specific value.”

Interpretation: The league needs the TV money to keep coming during a lockout to avoid defaulting on some of its loans. Even if the money otherwise can be raised to pay the bills, a significant drop in the TV money potentially becomes a “default,” which triggers all sorts of problems for the league.

Quote: “The NFL worried that its creditors could argue that a default event had occurred if the NFL locked out the Players in 2011, the same year that some broadcast contracts were set to expire, and that a default would give the Players bargaining power in labor negotiations.”

Interpretation: The league knew that the TV contracts had to be extended and beefed up to permit the money to keep flowing in a 2011 lockout.  (And if a lockout wasn’t planned, there would have been no need to beef up the language.)

Quote, as to the deal with DirecTV: “Of the total amount payable in the event of a canceled season, 42% of that fee is nonrefundable and the remainder would be credited to the following season.”

Interpretation: Of the money that the NFL would collect from DirecTV during a 2011 lockout, only 58 cents of each dollar would be repaid. Thus, to the extent that men like NFL general counsel Jeff Pash have insisted that these payments constitute loans and nothing more, Pash has overlooked the fact that 42 cents of every dollar paid by DirecTV during a lockout would be free money.

Quote: “DirecTV would have considered paying more in 2009 and 2010 ‘to have [the work-stoppage provision] go away.'”

Interpretation: The league left money on the table with DirecTV that could have and would have been shared with the players.

Quote: “If a work stoppage occurred in 2011, the final year of the [pre-2009] contract, the NFL had to repay CBS and FOX that same year.” (The same provision existed in the NBC contract.)

Interpretation: Without an extension of the TV deals, any money paid by CBS, FOX, or NBC would have been due and payable in 2011, defeating the purpose of using that revenue to pay other bills.

Quote, as to the CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN contracts: “If an entire season is canceled, the contracts extend for an additional season.”

Interpretation: In order to get the payments during a 2011 lockout, the league agreed to push all contracts back for a full year, delaying the commencement of new deals, which routinely entail a dramatic increase in rights fees.

Quote: “Initially, FOX expressed reluctance to pay rights fees during a work stoppage. The NFL considered opposition to the work stoppage provision a ‘deal breaker[].'”

Interpretation: This wasn’t some ancillary, throw-in term. It was one of the primary motivations for extending the network deals in 2009, and that supports the union’s claims that the NFL has been plotting a lockout for at least two years.

Quote: “In the event of a work stoppage, Verizon is obligated to pay a non-refundable rights fee.”

Interpretation: More evidence of free money, not a loan.

Quote: “The NFL and each NFL team shall in good faith act and use their best efforts, consistent with sound business judgment, so as to maximize Total Revenues for each playing season during the term of this Agreement.”

Interpretation: From Article X, Section 1(a)(i) of the CBA, it’s the standard that applies to the NFL when negotiating contracts with partners who will pay the league money relating to or arising out of the performance of players in NFL games.

Quote: “The phrase ‘consistent with sound business judgment’ qualifies, and is qualified by, the [CBA] requirement that the parties act in good faith and use best efforts to maximize total revenues for the joint benefit of the Players and the NFL. Indeed, ‘consistent with sound business judgment’ allows the NFL to consider its long-term interests provided it does so while acting in good faith and using best efforts to maximize total revenues for each [CBA] playing season.”

Interpretation: Heavy on legalese but very important to the outcome of the case, Judge Doty is setting the table for the eventual ruling by putting the “sound business judgment” term in perspective.

Quote: “‘Sound business judgment’ does not allow the NFL to pursue its own interests at the expense of maximizing total revenues during the [CBA]. Therefore, the special master committed legal error in his interpretation of ‘sound business judgment,’ which effectively nullified pertinent terms of the [CBA].

Interpretation: Special Master Stephen Burbank had concluded that the league didn’t violate the CBA because it was using “sound business judgment” in preparing for a possible work stoppage. Judge Doty concluded that Burbank applied the term too narrowly, allowing the league to focus only on its own interests, and not the players’ interests, when applying “sound business judgment.”

Quote: “Broadcast contracts are an enormous source of shared revenue for the Players and the NFL. Under the [CBA], the Players rely on the NFL to negotiate these contracts on behalf of both the NFL’s own interests and the interests of the Players. In May 2008, the NFL opted out of the final two years of the CBA, and recognized that a lockout in 2011 would help achieve a more favorable CBA. Thereafter, the NFL sought to renegotiate broadcast contracts to ensure revenue for itself in the event of a lockout.”

Interpretation: This is the money quote, literally and figuratively. Judge Doty is basically reaching the same conclusion that we reached during the second act of Jersey Boys in June 2010.  The league and the players share money. The league goes out and gets the money. The league’s obligation is to max out the shared money, and not to strike a side deal that benefits the league and hurts the players, especially when the league necessarily left shared money on the table.

Quote: “The NFL next argues that any injury to the Players’ interests will occur after the termination of the [CBA].  The court disagrees.  As a result of the broadcast contract renegotiations, the NFL demanded and received ‘material[ly]’ different, immediately effective work-stoppage agreements.”

Interpretation: This is a classic example of overlawyering. In an effort to “win” the case, the NFL’s counsel advanced an argument that exposes an unhealthy attitude toward the league’s supposed partners.  Basically, the league’s lawyers argued as a fallback, “Yeah, we may have screwed the players. But they won’t feel the screwing until the CBA has expired.  So we’re really not screwing them in an impermissible way.”  Judge Doty didn’t buy the argument; by insisting on payments during a 2011 lockout, the league agreed to lower fees in 2009 and 2010.  The players therefore were damaged by their inability to receive 59.6 cents of every extra dollar earned.

Quote: “The NFL used best efforts to advance its CBA negotiating position at the expense of using best efforts to maximize total revenues for the joint benefit of the NFL and the Players for each SSA playing season. Moreover, at least three networks expressed some degree of resistance to the lockout payments. As it renegotiated the contracts, the NFL characterized network opposition to lockout provisions to be a deal breaker and ‘clearly a deal’ it would not consider.”

Interpretation: The ultimate message mirrors what we said in June. “So the league arguably — if not actually — has a fiduciary duty to maximize revenue. By securing leverage-building terms like ongoing payments during a work stoppage, the league necessarily has failed to maximize revenue, since the right to ongoing payments in the event that games aren’t being played has an inherent value that could have been converted to dollars and cents paid to the league, and shared with the union.”

Bottom line? Despite any huffing and puffing and complaints about Judge Doty and anything else the league will say, the league was in the wrong. Once the league agreed to share revenue with the players and to use “good faith” and “best efforts” in generating that revenue, the league assumed an obligation to generate as much revenue as possible — and never to trade possible revenue for a term that helped the league and hurt the players.

46 responses to “In hindsight, Doty’s ruling was a no-brainer

  1. Although I believe you are geeking out over this labor situation, I must commend you on this post.

    Very interesting stuff.

    Now it will be intriguing to see how the league fights the ruling and what if anything comes from that fight.

    And as far as the responsibility to maximize revenue, I understand the concept, but a poster yesterday made a plea that the league could try and maximize VALUE to the fans instead.

    That will never happen at the expense of their precious dollars, but it was a nice thought, and one I agree with.

  2. Cracker Barrel rules.
    Ans yes based on the above the ruling makes sense. What I am hoping for is that the owners ok the extension of the current CBA so they can work things out and that also means NOT locking out the players. They should not want Doty being the deciding factor on the issues.

  3. Yup Doty got the call right on this one. Makes me wonder if the Special Master was a Mistress to the NFL.

  4. My comment would be that the NFL did what it should have to insure that the league would survive. Ensuring the survival of the NFL helps the players as much as it does the owners. Taking a little less up front, does take a little away from the players, BUT, keeping the league intact, is paramount. I am NOT taking sides with the owners at all, but I can see where keeping the NFL solvent in the event the players would strike or something else, would be the most important thing. The players will get the advantage of keeping their VERY well playing jobs. All the owners should be required to do is pay back the money to the networks, with interest, as has been stated. But also, they should be required to pay this back out of THEIR portion of the NFL money, not the players. The money should be split as agreed, then the league pays back out of their part.

  5. The league has no duty to maximize revenue. It might have a duty to remain profitable. But the two are not the same. If in a quest to maximize profit it causes damages TV companies, it could lose profitability. You’re asinine argument could be put to ticket prices. That the league has a duty to max out all ticket prices if its duty is to maximize revenue. The same could be said of apparel vendors.
    Also who the heck taught you or Judge Doty math? “42% of that fee is nonrefundable”, bull. 421 million out of 4 billion is 10% idiots, not 42%. 421 million is the amount that doesnt need to be repaid. So 421 million, divided by 32 gives you 13 mil per franchise. Your figuring and Judge Doty are suspect. The fact Doty probably hashed out his ruling while in another meeting with the head of the NFLPA non withstanding.

  6. Bottom line here is, the playing field has now been leveled, which is exactly what the owners didn’t want. Their leverage of a “war chest” just disappeared.

    Up till now, the owners were content to sit on their wallets and make the players sweat in the belief that they could simply outlast them. Not anymore.
    Now, if a work stoppage occurs, the owners will lose big money too.

    I’m guessing this whole mess will now be resolved sooner instead of later.

  7. I’m probably in the minority here, but I find the labor thing fairly interesting. Being a 9ers fan, it is actually more fun watching this than watching my team implode year after year.

    Thanks for the great posts and the geeky perspective.

  8. This is one big mess and a really indicative of how businesses and unions now negotiate with each other. In the end the consumer looses and literally pays the price.

    The owners still have all the leverage. They have other sources of income and are all well connected.

    There are many more players that have not been wise with their money and will feel the pressure.

    The players would be smart to start booking appearences, speaking engagements and such to pay the bills.

  9. @zaggs:
    DirecTV’s rights fee is $1 billion per year. The NFL’s TOTAL television revenue from all television rights holders is $4 billion.

  10. I get the feeling Doty is an NFL fan and just wants the NFL to resume ASAP come March 5th. I commend him for leveling the playing field as it could push for a deal to be done sooner. However, I do agree that asking the league to “maximize” profits is a but much. Just like the players are doing, the league should be allowed to do what it needs to do to sign a “Fair” contract. Something that wasn’t done last time. Again though, I just want the NFL to resume. I am used to Free Agency filling my sports void until baseball and March Madness begins. Ahh, the “dead” period in sports.

  11. Uh oh! This ruling is a huge slippery slope which ends with the fans losing. Based on the premise that the NFL is obligated to maximize revenue for the benefit of both parties that could mean:

    1) No more fans at the Superbowl or the playoffs – more money would be raised by selling all the seats to corporate interests.

    2) Raising ticket prices as high as they can go even if it puts it out of the reach of most fans. As long as the rich and businesses buy the tickets and maximize the revenue who cares if the game is accessible.

    3) All the best games will go to prime time pay-per-view. If you want to see it, you’ll have to pay through the nose.

    Also, this ruling begs the question – do the players have an equal obligation to maximize revenue for the benefit of both parties? If not, then the argument could be made that the CBA is unfair. Furthermore another argument could be made that such an equal obligation could require an 18 game season of the players.

    You can twist this thing anyway you want – and the lawyers do. However, I’m sure the owners will capitalize on this ruling to justify whatever they want in the way of “revenue maximization”. In the end, the union’s “victory” results in the fans losing eventually.

    It is a no win situation for the fans. The final agreement can take only one form. The millionaires and billionaires will agree that they both need to take more money from the “little people” to solve their dispute.

  12. Anyone who thinks this mess will be resolved sooner rather than later is living in a dream world.
    The greedy Owners got the contract with the greedy networks and agreed to by the greedy players.
    Do you get the trend here?
    However, it still is a Contract and will have Federal Judges dumping Doty’s ruling a short time after his influence is gone, in a few days.

  13. Sorry but this is a little much for me to worry about. i just want to watch my team get the players they need to get better, go to the playoffs, win a Superbowl ect…..

  14. I’m amazed at how some people can look at a very clear and easy to understand concept as this and completely miss the point. The league has the exclusive right to negotiate broadcast rights and fees on behalf of the league AND the players. The league instead chose to renegotiate with the networks to insert language to protect their interest AGAINST those of the players in the event of an ownership instituted lock-out. By doing so, they made price concessions to the networks in exchange for work stoppage protection that the players did not benefit from. At the very least, this should open the door for the NFLPA to sue for their 59% share of whatever value is assigned to the concessions given by the owners. If this is viewed as an act of bad-faith, a case could be made for punitive damages as well.

    From a larger perspective, why is it that some of you people believe that player salaries are what drive ticket prices? That has never, ever been the case, and never will be. Ticket prices are arrived at by simple demand principles, just like everything else. They get $85 per ticket because they can easily find 70,000 people to pay $85 per ticket. If the players all agreed to play for $150K per year, do you really believe any owner that is selling out at $85 a pop would reduce that by a penny? Get real. In the end, this is a players league. Without the players, there is no NFL. But without the NFL, some other league will start up and replace these owner, and pay the players. Both sides are to blame, but if I had to choose, I would side with the players.

  15. I think it’s safe to say at least one out of four of us have a grandpa that looks like that guy above.

  16. @lucky5927

    Your not getting it. The NFL and the NFLPA agreed that the league has a responsibility to get the most bang for the buck. If it didn’t make sense the NFL won’t accept that responsibility. Now that it’s obvious the NFL left some money off the table. Besides a Fair contract for the League and NFLPA (since it’s a partnership and don’t say they aren’t partners because the NFL owners are not stupid to give these guys more status than they deserve) is to get the most money for a tv deal, or any deal that counts towards general revenue.

    Doty might be an NFL fan and want to see no work stoppage. It hasn’t stopped him from ruling fairly in this case.

  17. The NFL knew what it was doing. But they rolled the dice just in case they could somehow get away with it. Jerry Richardson probably told the other owners that the players weren’t smart enough to see through the owner’s plan.

  18. well if you ever end up looking for work CNN will be very impressed with your ability to post crap like this….

    Do us all a favor make it simple enough for the average fan to read or post a hyperlink to a different web site where an article like this makes sense…

    Just keep in mind, when your on a tangent that starts with what you had for breakfast maybe you should stick to a simple point not a in depth 3 page article that 90% of us cant get thru due to the in depth content and language…

  19. My question is why did the networks stomach this arrangement in the first place? Get real; contracting and paying for a product that doesn’t necessarily get delivered?

    I suppose the answer would be fear that the NFL goes total pay-per-view.

    Blackmail: how business gets done in the NFL.

    I’m not pro-union. I’m just anti-CEO.

  20. It’s painfully obvious that the Special Master is in the NFL’s, (and Roggy, the senator’s boy’s), hip pocket. He should be shamed into resigning his position.

  21. “Do us all a favor make it simple enough for the average fan to read or post a hyperlink to a different web site where an article like this makes sense…”

    I strongly disagree. I think it’s great that a site can post something in depth like this. If you want a simple and cursory explanation then go to all the other sports sites. Those of us that like to delve a bit deeper into certain issues would like this type of article to remain.

  22. @ everyone saying this ruling is “a slippery slope” that will “hurt the fans”:

    You guys completely misunderstand the concept of maximizing revenues. The point isn’t that the league needs to attempt to extort every dollar from every possible person who pays (i.e., it isn’t in bad faith if they don’t raise ticket prices) the point is the networks offered them more money to drop the lockout insurance part of the contract, and the league refused, taking less money for the promise of a steady income so they could lock out the players.

    That’s negotiating in bad faith; they failed to take the offer of more money (which would have been shared with the players union) on purpose so they’d have the ability to break the union during a lockout with their continued paychecks. It’s blatantly illegal, and wildly unethical. It also shows the owners are the ones willing to take away football from the fans in an attempt to make more money. Honestly, I wish there was jail time in the offing for whoever came up with that strategy.

    By the way, if you want an analogy to what the league did but applied to ticket prices, it would be as if fans had offered to pay a bit more for their season tickets in order to help cover the cost of players salaries, and the teams had said no, but we’ll actually discount your season tickets now as long as you promise to pay us for your tickets next year even if there’s no season, and we’ll give you half back at the end of the year if no games are played.

  23. TheAndy59:

    If the players all agreed to play for $150K per year, do you really believe any owner that is selling out at $85 a pop would reduce that by a penny? Get real. In the end, this is a players league. Without the players, there is no NFL. But without the NFL, some other league will start up and replace these owner, and pay the players. Both sides are to blame, but if I had to choose, I would side with the players.

    You pointed out some great points in your first paragraph. I do disagree a bit in your second though. It is only a player’s league because the owners gave them a platform to play on. If these players left, we would get new players. Maybe not as house hold names, but eventually certain players would rise above and become the new household names if the lockout went that long and replacement players were used. Or the league would crumble if that wasn’t the case and then no one wins. But keep in mind that many of these guys have not financially protected their futures. Further more many of them may not be able to secure jobs paying more than $40-$50 thousand a year. A huge dropoff. Just my two cents on it.

    I also disagree that the player’s salary hasn’t impacted the ticket pricing for fans. A company’s main job is to make money. In an ideal world they would increase profits from quarter to quarter. Sometimes though business costs (i.e. players AND Coaches salary) increase. And in order to reach your expected yearly profits, you need to make adjustments based on those demands. The problem now though is you add the competive nature of the NFL (and business in general) and you see organizations pushing the limits of an ever increasing salary cap by overpaying players. Then you have Player B who wants to be paid more than Player A and next thing you know.. the demand for that player can exceed what the organization wants to pay for that player. But the organization is going to pay it for the opportunity to be successful. The same thing happens in many big businesses each year. Companies will pay more for a guy or girl who can come in and give that company a boost. Anyway, to summarize a long winded response, the cost of players salary can have an effect. I respect where you are coming from, just disagree with the last part.

  24. che1991 says: Mar 2, 2011 10:54 AM

    Uh oh! This ruling is a huge slippery slope which ends with the fans losing. Based on the premise that the NFL is obligated to maximize revenue for the benefit of both parties that could mean:

    1) No more fans at the Superbowl or the playoffs – more money would be raised by selling all the seats to corporate interests.

    2) Raising ticket prices as high as they can go even if it puts it out of the reach of most fans. As long as the rich and businesses buy the tickets and maximize the revenue who cares if the game is accessible.


    Assert yourself and stop buying tickets…

    Watch the game on tv…Problem solved!

  25. I believe the NFL owners feel that they must allow the curent collective bargaining agreement lapse, along with Judge Doty’s authority over it. It has been widely repoprted that the owners perceive Judge Doty as biased toward the NFLPA. I would estinate that the NFL thinks they will be in a better position in a differnet court. I’m not holding my breath about something happening this week, but the league and the players both want there to be a full 2011 season.

  26. It seems pretty clear that the league is simply going to let the CBA expire. I guess this would have impact on a future law suit, but when will we have football again? This is not Gung-Ho (said with dress tie head band). I just wish the NFLPA realized that. Trying to push around your employer doesn’t usually play out in your favor.

  27. @che1991:
    I’m pretty sure all of what you just argued *may* happen is either already happening or has already happened. Fans are being priced out of going to games in many major markets. The league doesn’t need to go PPV because with DirecTV they pretty much already are and with the network and ESPN contracts, they get top dollar because of ad revenue. No pure PPV audience could bring that kind of money. But the fact is that the league negotiated contracts with the networks that involved them essentially paying for lockout insurance by leaving more money on the table. That the league is now saying to its most important resource, the players, that it can’t make any concessions in their negotiations and won’t sacrifice any money to the players is evidence enough to support the ruling. The league is dumb and Goodell is their empty suit lackey boy. Where is Tags when you need him?

  28. After reading Judge Doty’s ruling it is clear that his placed a lot of emphasis on the intent and formation of the SSA. That being, it was born out of litigation and was a “settlement” between the league and players.

    Should Judge Doty take into account that the league and players have had 18 plus years of labor peace since the original SSA was adopted. Furthermore, the CBA has been either renewed or renegotiated 3 times since the 1992 litigation.

    We could argue all day whether the language of the SSA should be viewed as a living breathing evolving document or whether it should be viewed in the strict context in which it was created.

    Do you think if the appellate court were to interpret the SSA as an evolving document the ruling would change?

  29. This was the type of stuff that drew me to this blog in the first place. That and the Rachel Nichols jokes.

  30. Owners’ / players’ choice:

    (1) Settle NOW on 52% (owners) / 48% (players) split of ALL revenues, a rookies salary cap in first round set at 80% of annual compensation for the highest paid active NFL player at that position, and ditch the 18 game idiocy.

    (2) Blow it, miss the deadline, pay two hundred million to a dozen pencil necked vermin-geek lawyers in order to eventually get to (1) anyway, but only after a damaging strike that reverses the trend towards ever-higher TV ratings.

    Stop screwing with OUR (the fans’) game. You’re just the stewards…

  31. If the league is correct, once the current CBA expires, then Doty is gone.

    Then the league will get down to business, not before.

    That’s also why I don’t think the league will agree to a temporary extension.

    Doty’s bias in his rulings just can’t continue, for the good of the NFLPA and the NFL in the long run.

  32. @bunjy96: What bias? The league explicitly negotiated against the players unions interests, which is explicitly against their contract. There’s no way an appellate court will overturn this.

    The league wanted a slush fund so they could outlast the players (most of whom behave as if they were given tons of money and fame before they even graduated college…); it’s not only in violation of their contract, it’s maliciously so.

    The owners should be shellacked for hefty punitive damages for so obviously negotiating in bad faith.

  33. bunjy96 says

    Doty’s bias in his rulings just can’t continue


    Jerry, is that you? Please, Doty’s rulings have been based on the rule of law and the only reason why the NFL hates him is that he won’t look away and let them walk all over the players like pro-NFL judges have done in the past.

  34. The real losers here are the municipalities and their taxpaying citizens that funded all of these stadiums that will sit idle. That’s the breach of contract that nobody will pay for because the NFL is an unregulated monopoly that abuses its monopoly power. If a city does try to force the NFL to compensate them, expect to see that franchise move – that’s why we need a Federal Professional Sports Commission to regulate monopolies like the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB and protect the cities that, unlike the players who at least have a union, have no bargaining ability against the monopoly.

  35. Excellent post. Oh, and it wasn’t hard to read. People need to actually try and read through the whole thing.

  36. zaggs says:


    If you think that Mike needs math lessons, you need reading lessons. The 42% is for the DirecTV contract ONLY. You’re also wrong about the league’s duty to maximize revenue. They have a contract that pays the players a percentage of the revenue and when they accept less money then they are cheating the players. I’m sure that you probably don’t have a problem with that but if you sign a contract, you need to honor it. Or to put it the way that one source, Wikipedia, defines it: A fiduciary duty[2] is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary (abbreviation fid) is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the “principal”): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents. OK, I’m sure that you’re going to fault Wikipedia for being wrong, as some do but if you look at other sources, they say the same thing.

  37. The owners are greedy idiots, yes- especially those who borrowed heavily to buy their franchises on an auction. No public entity should ever subsidize a stadium for these turkeys, and the internal rule against going public with the stock (as with the GB Packers) should be killed.

    But so are the players greedy idiots- for not asking to change the rookie pay slotting that screws the vets, and pushing FA in a way that enriches some stars but destroys competitive balance. They want to make the NFL move closer and closer to the unsustainable systems in the NBA and MLB (MLB only survives these days because of the freebie publicly-funded stadiums in small markets). They will kill the game yet.

    And Doty, who, like all judges, can find rationale for any ruling he wishes to make (I could write and support an opposing opinion, so could Mike- we learn that in our law school legal writing class), has been the de facto executive director for the NFLPA since his original handling of the case 20 years ago in the Ed Garvey-as-Doty’s-puppet days when Alan Page and Garvey jurisdiction-shopped to find a Marvin-Miller-friendly judge.

    Doty has never made an even-handed ruling, or one that took the owners’ position. Every ruling has been pro-union. Every one.

  38. kurmudge says:


    You ever thought that maybe the union has been right every time? Let’s not forget that before Doty, all those rulings went against the union — every one. Does his little time ruling against the owners make up for decades of previous pro-ownership rulings that were clearly not correct? You may not appreciate the fact but for nearly 100 years, Federal judges upheld baseball owners’ interpretation of the Reserve Clause as it was written to mean that a team could “reserve” a player into perpetuity and then one day, an arbitrator interpreted it differently and the owners nearly stroked out over it and they took their appeals to the courts but the ruling stood and modern day free agency became a reality. Seitz is the devil to the owners but he’s a saint to the players. To many fans who don’t know any different, he’s more like how the owners characterize him because of their stupid belief that there was “loyalty” by the players before free agency when it was nothing more than indentured servitude that enforced “loyalty” by keeping players from being able to make their own career choices. Doty’s role has also been colored by that same attitude.

    I have to ask you about your reference to Garvey, Page and Doty. Doty didn’t get to where he was until 1987 and Garvey left his position with the NFLPA in 1983 and Page was more involved with his own judicial career when Doty was working NFL cases. Can you cite a specific case after 1987 that Doty would have been “shopped around” by Garvey and Page that involved the NFL?

  39. BTW, the players didn’t ask for a rookie pay scale because it hurts them more than it helps them. If Rookie X gets $1 million per year and the owners offer a contract extension, the language limits what he can get based on the salary and even with the tricks that they can pull out of their hats, if a rookie pay scale makes his salary $500,000 then what he makes with those tricks would be significantly less than what he could make without one. Also, veteran stars love what rookies make because once they become free agents, it’s a basis for their negotiations. A lower rookie salary means that they have to start lower with their demands.

    The ones who want a rookie pay scale are: owners, fans and delusional veterans at the bottom end of the pay scale, who believe the owners when they say that they’d distribute part of that money to the old retirees and then take care of them (Fools).

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