Appeals court reinstates collusion case

As it turns out, Wednesday’s ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office could be the least problematic litigation outcome for the NFL.

By far.

Per a league source, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has overturned a decision by Judge David Doty dismissing the NFLPA’s effort to claim collusion against the NFL made in the wake of the salary-cap penalties imposed on Dallas and Washington in 2012.

The case is now expected to proceed to the discovery process, which will force the NFL to disclose information about whether and to what extent teams were told to treat the uncapped year of 2010 under the prior labor deal as something other than, you know, an uncapped year.

That was the gist of the $46 million in cap penalties.  Dallas and Washington were penalized for contracts in the uncapped year that nevertheless complied with the language of the CBA and that nevertheless were approved at the time by the NFL.

The league argued, and the supposedly player-friendly Judge Doty concluded, that it was too late for the players to argue collusion for things happening before the signing of the current labor deal because the agreement included a settlement of all legal claims that were or could have been made.  The notoriously business-friendly Eighth Circuit reversed Judge Doty’s ruling.

Look for the NFL to continue to raise preliminary arguments aimed at defeating the case before it has to share with the players evidence regarding any and all communications made to teams in and before 2010 about the unwritten rules of the uncapped year.  Arguably, the NFLPA ratified any collusion by agreeing to the Dallas and Washington cap penalties in exchange for the league’s agreement to pump up the 2012 salary cap.

Previously, Judge Doty’s rulings tiptoed around facts and circumstances that would paint the union’s position as disingenuous.  Now that the case will go back to Judge Doty’s courtroom after a ruling that he was wrong, look for Judge Doty to be a little more pointed in future opinions regarding what the NFLPA knew or should have known about any collusion that happened in connection with the 2010 league year.

Still, it’s a huge win for the NFLPA.  And it’s a huge setback for the NFL, which could if the case ultimately goes against the league result in an award of damages approaching or exceeding $1 billion dollars.

UPDATE 11:15 a.m. ET:  The NFL remains confident that it will prevail in the case. “As the Court emphasized, today’s decision is entirely procedural in nature,” the league said in a statement issued to PFT.  “Far from validating the Union’s claim, the Court specifically highlighted the heavy burden that the NFLPA faces in establishing this claim, and we remain highly confident that the claim will be dismissed yet again.”

55 responses to “Appeals court reinstates collusion case

  1. Say what you will about the Cowboys and Redskins, but they got screwed over by the league for being smart and creative. No surprise John Mara – Giants owner – lead the charge for these two teams to be penalized.

  2. I would have thought they had collectively bargained the settlement of this case when the last agreement was finalized?

  3. I don’t give half a crap about either team, but objectively speaking from my pov, they both got hosed. I suspect there’s an awful lot of collusion going on at any given time, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I’d love to see this case bring some of the rest of it out into the open.

  4. Nice to see the courts making an attempt to make arrogant billionaire team owners respect the rules that the rest of America has to follow.
    Next, perhaps they’ll force the league to pay taxes…

  5. No matter the ruling, they colluded. The NFL knows they colluded. The players know they colluded. You know they colluded. I know they colluded. There were teams penalized for not colluding. If not, what were they penalized for?

  6. I love when fans and media celebrate these things. All it would mean is that owners have to pay more money to millionaire athletes, and in turn raise ticket prices on the everday fans to cover the new expenses.

    Same thing for the concussion and pain med lawsuits.

  7. Sometimes I feel like the owners should say: “You know what NFLPA, you’re right. We are terrible scheming scumbags and as a result, we are going to shut down the NFL. Good luck to the 1,500+ players that will try relentlessly to find a fair and pleasant work environment that will be lucky to pay them a $50,000 / yr salary. We are terrible, you win! Have a nice life!”

  8. This means nothing. The NFLPA sold its soul already.
    The players should thank DeMaurice Smith for costing them $3billion in collusion triple damages.

  9. A fair penalty for this vindictive, petty abuse of power would be capping the Giants at the veteran’s minimum salary X 53 until Baby John Mara sells all interest in the team and agrees to a lifetime ban from the NFL.

  10. I’m in favor of collusion if it means that they were able to keep spending under control. In the absence of a salary cap, something had to be done to keep salaries from getting out of control. At some point there has to be an adjustment downward because fewer and fewer people can afford to go to the games.

  11. Get ’em! The owners are in for it now. Everyone knows it happened and they chose the penalties for only two select teams they wanted to “teach a lesson.” Turns out the tables have been turned.

  12. Anyone with half a brain sees there was collusion. My take was that dumb dumb smith settled and that’s all there is to it? In an outside court, once a settlement is reached, you can’t go back and say “oh my bad, I want more”. Skins and boys got hosed during all this.

  13. Do the fans win or lose? That’s a question both sides need to consider. All of these numbers will continue to affect ticket prices, will they not? I get nervous thinking about applying for a loan to attend a game.

  14. so the nfl screwed the boys and skins for not breaking the law, the nflpa agreed to the screwing for more money in the salary cap then turned around and screwed the nfl for breaking the law.

  15. It’s possible that I am so far off base, because, let’s face it: I am so totally biased. But I truly do believe that (although the Saints absolutely deserved punishment for their pay for performance program), Roger Goodell wanted to hide his and the NFLs cover up of what they knew and when they knew it about concussions because of the law suit, so he sacrificed the Saints so he could pretend that player safety was important to him (while calling for Thursday games and more NFL games at the same exact time). And when the judges and panels twice voided his player punishments, his ginormous ego led him to double down. I have always felt that just as the Saints paid for their sins, he is going to pay a really big price down the line for what he did. So yeah, Karma. And it will keep coming with the concussion lawsuit when he is forced to testify in a true court of law.

  16. How is getting penalized on an uncapped year not collusion? If it’s an uncapped year how can u break any rules because there are none? Don’t need a law degrees just two eyes and a brain.

  17. I’m not even a Skins and Boys fan, but it’s screwed how they got penalized while the Bears gave Julius Peppers something like 30-40mil that year and got 0 punishment

  18. I don’t get what the Cowboys and Redskins did wrong here. If you could possibly shave salary in future years by jamming all of the bonus money into an uncapped year, why would you not do that as a competitive entity? It just screams that collusion was actually at hand here.

  19. It’s funny how four teams violated the “uncapped” year however, only the two teams in the same division as the Giants were hit with the penalty Seems like Mara knew exactly what he was doing at the time. I’m sure no matter going forward the resolution will never meet the damage done to the Skins when handcuffing them 18 million back to back years. They were held back from building the team the way they had intended. That kind of money pays for a lot of talent an even depth. How about the Giants take the same hit over the next two years and lets see how competitive the team is that they put on the field. It was collusion plain and simple.

  20. Big reason why the Skins struggled last year. We gave up all those picks for RGIII, but were unable to circumvent that through FA. It killed our special teams depth and our defense. We couldn’t afford to resign Lorenzo Alexander who was our ST captain.

  21. And the winners of this when all is said and done – the scumbag lawyers of course!

  22. funny the broncos (caught twice) and niners both won superbowls when they were busted for cheating on the cap.

    Niners had to pay a mere 400k, and lost a 6th rd pick. The mules each time paid under a million, and lost third rd picks.

    But the skins and cowboys get slammed, and didn’t win anything.

  23. All these people cheering on behalf of millionaire players or taxes on the league are the same naive suckers who will have to pay for all of this in the end in the form of increased prices for tickets and merchandise…

  24. I am amazed at all the people attacking the football players for being millionaires – and taking the side of the billionaire owners. On sundays, do you watch fat old men eating nachos or football players playing football games? You can see the first ones at my house and I won’t charge you half as much. Get your priorities straight. This is where we find out who the REAL football fans are.

  25. I don’t have a real argument, so I am going to say that you aren’t a REAL football fan if you don’t side with me.

  26. Yes the owners colluded, yes the players know this, yes everyone on the planet knows this.

    However, legally, that little agreement DeMo Smith had with the NFL saying it wasn’t colluding is what trumps all of that.

    Yes the players want to bring the case, BUT their agent signed away their right to do so. And we all know when the offended party say they aren’t offended the case goes away.

    And IF a court goes with the players, look for the HUGE countersuit from the countersuit for breaking a legally binding agreement.

    Yeah the lawyers win, and the players look like whiny little ingrates.

    The kicker, while the Redskins and Cowboys did get hosed (and they did, royally), the players got it worse. Not only don’t they get damages, but those 2 years when there was 46 mil taken from teams that actually spend money, wanted to spend money, and needed to spend money; the teams that got that money, most of them didn’t use it.

    Instead of fighting a losing battle, they should be going after Smith who has really taken it to the players more than the owners, and that is saying something.

  27. NoRespect says:
    Jun 20, 2014 2:58 PM
    I don’t have a real argument, so I am going to say that you aren’t a REAL football fan if you don’t side with me.

    Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Football fans watch football players play football games. Which part confuses you?

    If you like watching fat old men eat nachos, come over to my house. I’ll change you half price admission if you bring me beer too.

  28. Idfontenot – Perhaps the Saints deserves a little punishment, like-say on the level of the Patriots punishment, but nowhere Even close to that bs that we-the fans, got. The NFL went from never suspending a HC, to suspending a HC for an entire season. Top that with our GM, and LBs coach/Asst. HC and you have a nothing more than a scapegoat. The idiots claiming Saints fans were/are whining about it, need more intelligence/perspective. It was a “Montreal Scew-Job” for the Saints/Saints fans. Gooddell deserves the worst of the worst, no debate.

  29. The case was reversed and remanded for procedural, not substantive, reasons. That is, the way the case was processed by Judge Doty was the problem–not his factual or legal rulings.

    The NFLPA, as noted by the appellate court, still has to somehow justify why it’s entitled to complain about a deal it, in fact, approved. Kind of like complaining about its own actions and wanting someone else to pay for its ineptitude.

    Not really sure how this was a “HUGE” win for the player and their union.

  30. As for the ticket prices….. I’m happy to be a die hard Skins fan. Because our ticket prices should remain the same, if not, be reduced due to the fact that the Skins have a heavy reimbursement coming their way!

  31. The Cowboys and Redskins are not absolved here in any way. If you have a handshake agreement to collude — and Jones and Snyder shook hands as well — then break that agreement, you’ve still colluded.

  32. Doty is a shyster.
    If the Redskins, and Cowboys, win this case … every penny of payback should be deducted from the Giants, and the maggot that started it, Mora.

  33. The NFL is colluding right now to keep salaries down with their little smoke n mirrors trick by slotting Draft picks earnings and black balling free agent monies. The NFL and it’s greedy owners are real scumbags and it’s turning me off to the league in general.

    And I hope with their little scumbag maneuver to withhold actually what they knew in the concussion settlement making the terms of the settlement that they don’t have to divulge anything. These crooked judges should make them divulge EVERYTHING. It’s time to expose this corruption of these scumbags.

    it’s typical case of “management” being total bullies because they have the money and control. If the courts don’t bring this scumbags like Goodell to justice no one will.

  34. Perhaps if they hadn’t fined the ‘Skins and ‘Boys? But by fining them they might as well have taken out ads in the media and admitting their guilt.

  35. Seems like the appropriate action would be for Goodell to fall on his sword or drink a can of Drano while leaping off a bridge.

  36. Dallas lost it’s final regular season game the year they were stripped of draft picks & $10 million cash. We’ll never know but that $10 million might have put them in the playoffs and the Superbowl. And Jerry might have stepped back and hired a GM, having finally proved to the world that he could win a championship without Jimmy Johnson.

    This means that NFL collusion has forced Dallas Cowboys fans to endure years more involvement of / by Jerry Jones! Now we’re talking about a helluva lot more than $4 billion dollars. We’re looking at a Class Action Suit involving millions of fans whose lives have been made miserable by Jerry Jones. Probably looking at the largest punitive damage award in the history of modern jurisprudence.

    We’ll also be looking for criminal charges against Roger Goodell, along with a Supreme Court reversal on the use of public flogging and similar corporal punishment.

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