Other players could file their own lawsuits

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Nine days ago, 10 players filed suit against the NFL, claiming various violations of the antitrust laws arising from the lockout, and from any rules that the league’s 32 separate franchises will apply to a non-union workforce after a lockout ends.

But the legal action doesn’t yet prevent other players from pursuing claims of their own.  And those players who have the most obvious legal rights are the ones who stand to lose their workout bonuses during the lockout.

Plenty of players can earn such bonuses in 2011, including Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, whose 2010 contract provides for annual payments of $750,000 if he participates in the offseason workout program and in training camp.

But the players can’t earn bonuses for participating in the offseason workout program if there’s no offseason workout program.  In Ferguson’s case, for example, participation the offseason workout program must come “at the Club’s invitation.”  If there’s no offseason training program, there’s no invitation — and thus there’s no payment.

Ferguson and any other player who will be denied the opportunity to earn his workout bonus could file individual lawsuits claiming that the lockout constitutes a breach of their contracts, and that they should be paid the workout bonuses they would have earned.

Lawyers representing the individual players could choose to be creative in their requests to the courts of the various states in which NFL teams are headquartered, perhaps asking that the contracts be treated as null and void.  Though an award of money damages is the more likely outcome, the players could complicate the situation significantly for the league if those who are losing workout bonuses decide to file their own lawsuits.

That said,the players could end up being viewed as even more litigious if other lawsuits are filed, which could hurt their standing in the court of public opinion.

Either way, these players need to be compensated for their lost workout bonuses, if the lockout eventually is deemed to be a violation of the antitrust laws.

43 responses to “Other players could file their own lawsuits

  1. Suffice it to say the owners have opened up a legal can of worms for themselves with the lockout. Apparently they’d rather pay lawyers than players.

  2. In my case with a lock out the company with the blessing of the court pay us our final pay check 3 years later, of course the management got theirs in less then 4 months, company went into bankruptcy filed in good old New York City, you can be sure that they have an up hill fight on there hands as the courts seems to side with corporate American over us citizens. Bill

  3. No they don’t. They decertified & simultaneously walked away from negotiations. Regardless of whether they liked the deal on the table or not, that deal offered was a start. They had the choice to accept another extension of mediation & negotiate based off of the offer the NFL put on the table.

    I believe in 110% honesty that a deal could have been made or at the very least they could have made more headway to solving the issues at hand to offer another extension which would have given time to strike a final deal. Instead, THE PLAYERS UNION walked away & have spent the last 10 days running their gums in the media & filing lawsuits, yet sending mixed messages along with ignorant messages throughout their representation.

    The Union represents ALL players within the league. They new that by walking away, the league was in turn going to lock them out. Therefore, they put their bonus dollars at risk. As was stated by one owner just over this weekend, if the owners are losing money in this, the players are losing just as much if not more.


  4. Well, I don’t think we will see this happen. For one, it would be an awfully expensive undertaking to file individual lawsuits. But more important than that is the fact that if the courts uphold the lockout the players would have a very tough time winning in court on a breach of contract claim if the lockout is determined to be legal. Furthermore, if the lockout is upheld I expect the union (um, former union to reconstitute) and get back to the bargaining table and agree to a deal before camps open, so this entire issue would become moot. While I don’t think lawsuits from individual players are likely at all, if the players that are going to be missing workout bonuses are even talking like that you can bet they will pushing for a deal to get done asap if the lockout proceeds. (using that word bonus also makes me realize that it would be tough to prove breach of contract over a bonus anyway since it is a bonus and not guaranteed compensation)

  5. wryly1,

    Well the lawyers are a lot cheaper than the players.

    What exactly is your position on the union’s preference to pay lawyers as oppose to actually negotiating?

  6. I’m a tad puzzled by the last line.

    I would have thought these players have a case for breach of contract regardless of whether the lockout is deemed to be anti trust.

  7. I’m getting pretty sick of the players to be honest.

    I wish there was a way the NFL could tell them to enjoy their retirement and start over with less greedy/more hungry players.

  8. “I wish there was a way the NFL could tell them to enjoy their retirement and start over with less greedy/more hungry players.”

    Bingo, in spades!

  9. Actually, it’s the players who opened up the can of worms with the lawyers since the Players are the ones who filed suit. And as long as they believe the court will give them the best deal (no doubt something the lawyers will want them to believe) we’re going to be hearing lots and lots of legal posturing and lawyer-speak for the next year or so.

    If they all get back to the negotiating table, maybe we could table the lawyers for another decade. That would be nice.

  10. I love these post by folks who say they would just as soon watch “less greedy” players. I suppose these are the same fans who watch the NDBL rather than the NBA. Or perhaps they watch Arena football rather than the NFL or maybe AAA baseball rather than MLB. No, in fact almost all fans want to see the best athlete compete, that is why we watch. That is why no one shows up for pre-season NFL football games. That is why no one showed up to watch the replacement players play NFL games. And that is why the best pro sports teams sell more tickets than the lousy pro sports teams. Duh.

  11. Neither side cares about the fans.

    If the players cant be happy with million dollar contracts let them hit the road. the only thing i would agree that they should have is lifetime health benefits.

  12. A lockout is a legitimate, legal negotiation tool, the same as a strike is. Ask the NLRB. The owners are not in breach of contract, since the CBA allowed them to get out. If the league ends the lockout, the players can and might go strike. The fact is that both sides are currently looking at virtually no income from football, the fans are pissed and will tend to blame the players just as fans did in 1987. The players are clearly going to court because if they win, they gain an advantage in negotiations. However as this drags on, at some point being disrespected at the negotiation table will seem less important than having no income and watching one of few income producing years as a player go away will seem like a bad idea.

  13. @aevans05

    I would NEVER, ever want to work for a person who believes like you do.

    Do you understand without a CBA and a Player’s Union, there is NO DRAFT, NO SALARY CAP, NO NFL. That’s called a monopoly and collusion and that is ILLEGAL under the current laws of the U.S.

    So even if they COULD fire everyone, then there would be completely different problems and the NFL would cease to exist as you know it and LOVE it.

    The NFLPA must exist to allow the leagues to dictate places of employment (draft) and promote parity (salary cap and revenue sharing) and negotiate deals for TV and advertising as ONE entity.

    Seriously, what do you people do, skip all the boring text parts of Mike’s posts…or just the ones that run counter to your own personal beliefs to understand that the owners are just as culpable as the players in this mess.

    By the way, this “MESS” is how business is actually done. Most times we don’t get to see it. Or the rich buys pack up their factories and move them to China or another corrupt third world country where they can “maximize” their profits.

  14. No Blanda…. we watch the teams from our cities. The players change, the team does not. It’s true for every level of sport actually.

    So slap my teams emblem on the helmet of some OTHER player and I’ll root for him. Rooting for players pretty much died with the advent of free agency.

  15. tiredofthestupid…. So what was that 12 round thing they called “the draft” back BEFORE the CBA?? What league was that before a Salary Cap came into existence? What league was that LAST year when there was no salary cap?

    You’re right, the players believe it’s an illegal monopoly and collusion… but what will the court say about “competitive balance?” which is one of the main purposes of the collusion? It’s not like this is a normal business. And in America, exceptions have been made before.

    Which is why you don’t have a choice of who to pay for your electricity. Those monopolies stand.

  16. Say whatever you want about “business”.

    Point is, the NFLPA walked away from negotiations when a revised offer was present. Instead of trying to work it out, they had their hired hard a** take his ball and go home.

    Now it’s a game of lawsuits and public greedfest, I don’t wanna see Brees along with other players sitting on a stool making demands like a spoiled child, or hear about Peterson comparing the NFL to slavery.. are you freakin serious? That’s how you think business is actually done?

    The owners aren’t free from blame, but they have shown and heck of a lot more willingness to negotiate than the players, they didn’t take to the courts.. do anything equal to the sham that is the “decertification”

  17. Oh, and I never said do away with a union for the players. And I also never said goon without a CBA.

    I simply said I wish there was a way to tell the current players to stay gone if they wanna play the game they’re playing right now, and start over.

    I know that scenario wouldn’t be possible, but I still wish it was.

    Feel free to twist my words and make a bunch of retarded statements about the NFLPA being the way successful businesses are run.

  18. Can’t imagine the sight of fans filling stdiums and networks paying billions to watch the owners and their lawyers at work.

  19. Once they become “law suits”, they get to dress up like Brick with a nice freshly laundered shirt with matching tie. No more falling in the dirt with sweaty uniforms on and bulky uncomfortable padding. Not to mention that horrible contraption over your head that obscures your good looks and smile.

  20. Why do people think either side really cares about public opinion? If the owners did they would not have opted out of the CBA in the first place and the players know that their are a lot of fans that watch fauxnews who’s “unions are bad, billionaires are good” ideology isn’t going to change no matter what they say or do.
    The NFL is just like Wall St & the government ‘ the working class are suckers they’ll put up with anything” they will be back and pay more too!

  21. “I wish there was a way the NFL could tell them to enjoy their retirement and start over with less greedy/more hungry players.”

    Go watch the UFL if you want to watch that.

  22. “No Blanda…. we watch the teams from our cities. The players change, the team does not. It’s true for every level of sport actually.

    So slap my teams emblem on the helmet of some OTHER player and I’ll root for him. Rooting for players pretty much died with the advent of free agency”

    Well said southmo. i root for my team, not the players. i would watch the eagles no matter who was out there playing.

  23. i think most, not all, the people that back the players are people that have favorite players on differnt teams. they dont have one team that they have backed all their life. or they are young and idolize these players.

    i get the players want as much as they can get. but there is a fine line between trying to get as much as you can and being just plain greedy. they get paid tons of money to play a sport, thats something anyone posting here can only dream of.

    i dont want the nfl to turn out like the nba. the nba players act like they own the nba, like they are untouchable and can do wahtever they want.

  24. If other players file complaints and take them all the way through appeals we may not have a resolution for four years. Four years.

    After the MLBPA went on strike and the world series was canceled – 1993 +/- – I have never again watched or attended an MLB game. Lesson for the NFLPA* to consider.

    Since 1993, minor league AA baseball games came to my area and I attend, pay about one-third of the MLB prices and enjoy watching good baseball with players who give 100% effort.

    I’m perfectly OK with no NFL games this year if it results in a competitive minor league coming to my area. I can put the $400 plus per NFL game to better use.

    I’m OK with that economic outcome. Are the players?

  25. So D’Brick ‘s agent wasn’t smart enough to plan for a labor problem? Pretty sure everybody knew last year at this time what could happen.

  26. @nfl52

    Yes, you watch and root for the players. Not the owners.

    The players that are not on strike.

    The players that wanted to play under the terms of the CBA the owners signed two years ago.

    The players that so want to play they are taking the owners to court to allow them to play.

    The players that offered to share revenue 50/50 with the owners which is less than any year since 2002.

    The players that offered to negotiate on that 50/50 split but were turned down flat.

    But no, you support the owners that chose to renege on the contract they signed 2 years ago and have chosen to lock out the players and cancel next season.

    The owners that were too “busy” to attend more than 30 minutes of face to face negotiations with the players.

    Yes, please go get your Eagles shirt with the owners name on the back and wear it around Philli. Let’s see how much support you’ll get for the greedy owner.

    If you dare.

  27. the owners take the risk? Jerry Richardson paid 206 million for the Panthers in 1993, Forbes valued the team at 1 billion last year. He could sell it tomorrow and put a profit of 794 MILLION dollars that’s about 44 million a year. What a risk?
    A risk is getting on a field with James Harrison twice a year with a contract that isn’t guaranteed! The greed of these billionaires is incredible, how much would ever be enough for these BILLIONAIES?

  28. realfann

    I can’t speak for nfl52 but I too root for laundry…and it isn’t personal EITHER way. If the players were striking, I’d root for them when they came back. If the 53 Patriots all left, I would root for the ones who were out there. If it were a choice between owner front office/staff OR a player…I would sooner wear a jersey with Robert Kraft’s or Bill Belichick’s name on it than Randy Moss’ or even favorite players of mine like Welker’s though because Robert Kraft is far far far far more responsible for what the Pats are today than Randy Moss or even Tom Brady is.

    LAUNDRY. That should be what fans chant if they attend the draft. “LAUNDRY…LAUNDRY..LAUNDRY”.

  29. Who is footing the bills for the player’s lawsuit? If it’s the NFLPA* how can that be? If the NFLPA* is paying, isn’t that an admission that the decertification is a sham?

  30. can’t get your bonuses, but the league can enforce the conduct rule! you owner lovers are IDIOTS, i hope the players hold out a whole year, roger pinnochio and his owners are slime balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. The only people making money out of this mess is the lawyers. Put an end to this garbage.

  32. in 86 nicklaus won the masters and made 144,500 for the win! now it’s 1.3 mil and there is no union, how’d that happen, has to be the unions fault!! owner loving idiots

  33. realfann

    i got no problem with the players other than the fact that they wont sit down and work out a deal. good for them that they get piad tons of money. but you are wrong, i root for my team not the players. i like the coaches more than one player. i could care less about one player.

    the one thing i think you are missing is the woners are allowed to decide the old agreement wasnt working for them. i thought they have been in the agreement for more than 2 years, i amy be wrong though.

    but they were allowed to opt out of the agreement. they own the team. the players need to know that. you cant have the players runnin the show. the owners want to try to bang out a deal right now but the players wont do that, and that really is all that matters

  34. CKL

    totally agree. if you watch football long enough you stop being so into the players. you realize its the organization that you are rooting for.

  35. realfann,

    you are a real uninformed fan. there was no CBA signed two years ago. the owners opted out of the CBA that was signed several years ago. the owners also did not break a contractual obligation. it was written into the contract that either side had the right to terminate the agreement two years early if they didn’t like the terms of the deal. Also the players are not suing so that football can be played, they are suing to gain leverage in negotiations. The players filed a lawsuit before the owners even instituted a lockout. The motion to block the lockout came later. If the player’s lose the motion to prevent the lockout, I wonder if you will still support the lawsuit – the one that as long as it exists means there will be no football.

  36. including Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, whose 2010 contract provides for annual payments of $750,000 if he participates in the offseason workout program and in training camp.

    See… he has to get paid to keep his job.
    This really is a problem.
    Paid to work out in the off season?
    Let me guess… your agent worked that in there Brick?
    It’s called OVERPAIDIDIS.
    Don’t worry, once the owners do something ELSE stupid, I will turn on them too.

  37. i am sure duh smith read denny’s green book where he told how he would take over a team. duh wants to take over a league.

    not going to happen. he is already actually out of a job and should disappear.

  38. On many of these boards, several fans on the side of the players say that these guys are the “best in the world” and therefore deserve to be paid whatever they can get. Many of these same fans are the first to say that their QB sucks or their CB can’t tackle, their WR can’t catch a cold, their center plays like a matador, or their star RB has fumble-itis, etc. Which is it? If they are the best, then stop bitching about your team.

    Fans will watch football. Contrary to popular belief among those relatively new to the game, fans watched the “scabs” back when they played. They will watch the “new” players that play for their teams. Like someone earlier said, FA basically killed player/fan loyalty. GB fans did not become Jets/Vikings fans because Favre switched teams. If Manning somehow goes to the 49ers, Colts fans will not go with him. New players will come and they will be loved just as much as these current ingrates. Ask Drew Bledsoe if the “new guy” from the bottom of the draft is second rate football and not worthy of fans watching.

  39. realfann says:
    Mar 20, 2011 4:25 PM
    I’m a tad puzzled by the last line.

    I would have thought these players have a case for breach of contract regardless of whether the lockout is deemed to be anti trust.
    Not saying it is right or wrong but the contracts these players signed are the result of a CBA signed by the union that stopped negotiations (on a new CBA) and decertified. If they chose to keep negotiating it is unlikely they would have been locked out. I think it will come down to the actual language in the individual contracts.

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