Sean Gilbert contends funding rule constitutes collusion

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On Saturday, former NFL player Sean Gilbert made his initial case to the voters for the position of NFLPA executive director.  And he finally has unveiled a plan for a collusion claim that could then be used to terminate the current labor deal.

PFT has obtained a copy of Gilbert’s presentation to the NFLPA board of player representatives.  In those remarks, Gilbert explained that the NFL’s funding rule for fully guaranteed contracts, as used by the league, constitutes an ongoing collusion violation.

The funding rule appears at Article 26, Section 9 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Gilbert’s argument seizes on the notion that the CBA states only that “[t]he NFL may require” teams to deposit future, fully-guaranteed payments into escrow. The argument will be that the NFL at some point turned the “may” into a “must,” preventing teams from putting fully-guaranteed payments into the future years of contracts unless the owners fund those amounts by putting the money in escrow — even if the owners have the financial resources to honor the future salary commitments.

The NFL surely would respond to this contention by arguing that the NFLPA already has given the NFL blanket authority to mandate funding by using the words “may require.” The NFLPA, under Gilbert, would argue that the mechanism was put in place to ensure that future guarantees made by teams with questionable financial resources would be honored, and that the NFL has twisted a provision aimed at protecting players against franchises that may fold into a vehicle for suppressing guaranteed payments by requiring all teams to fund future full guarantees up front, regardless of whether the owner of a given team has the wherewithal to make the future guaranteed payments.

It’s an argument that relies on nuance, along with an understanding of the specific purpose and origin of the funding rule. Earlier this week, in the wake of a contract signed by Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh that includes $59.955 million in full guarantees (which Stephen Ross had to fund up front, despite being a multi-billionaire), PFT posed basic questions regarding the purpose and origin of the funding rule to the NFL. The NFL declined to provide any information beyond pointing out that the funding rule is a collectively-bargained provision.

The collusion claim faces other potential obstacles. NFLPA executive director candidate (and practicing lawyer) Andrew Smith said on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio that the 90-day window for filing a collusion claim based on Gilbert’s idea has expired by now, based on the argument that the NFLPA knew or should have known about the potential collusion claim from the moment Gilbert said he was aware of a specific form of collusion that was essentially hiding in plain sight. Andrew Smith contends that the failure of the NFLPA to obtain the information from Gilbert or to otherwise figure out the argument on its own within 90 days after Gilbert suggested the existence of a silver-bullet collusion claim makes it impossible to bring the claim within the next 90 days.

From Gilbert’s perspective, none of that matters if it helps him win the election. While it could keep him from being re-elected in three years if the effort to terminate the CBA via a collusion claim fails, the existence of an intriguing, creative argument for the existence of collusion can’t hurt his chances of getting the job.

39 responses to “Sean Gilbert contends funding rule constitutes collusion

  1. This has no effect on the amount of money paid by any team in any time period. Zero impact. Zero argument. No case.

    I hope the nflpa elects an adult instead of Shawn Gilbert.

  2. The problem for Gilbert is that the last time the CBA ended the players got locked out and wound up with a worse deal than the one they had before.

    From a strategic standpoint the best thing that could happen for the players is to have the CBA terminated during the season, at which point they could threaten to or actually go on strike late in the season.

  3. Florio you know as a lawyer no judge would hear a case based on this anyway. This wouldn’t make it through summary.

    Gilbert is trying to mess up a good thing because he is mad at the league because he can’t play anymore. Players make more money than ever and salaries rise every year like they are supposed too.

    As much as i was on the players side last time, if they do this and try to break the CBA I will be done with the NFL and its players.

  4. I hope SEAN wins, he will throw a wrench into what has been a money printing business for NFL owners.

  5. What does he think “may require” means? It can mean that something is a possibility or it could mean that something is allowed or authorized. The NFLPA signed/ratified the CBA acknowledging that either the league might require teams to front that money or that the league is allowed to require teams to front that money. Either way, what the league is doing was both contemplated and authorized by the union. Calling what Gilbert believes a “stretch” is a colossal understatement. I am no lawyer but I do not see any common sense way he would win this.

  6. Yes Sean, you may have a point, and teams may not be offering future guaranteed money because of the way the League reads this wording.

    So all that will happen is that teams will start paying smaller guaranteed amounts at the start of the contract, and will either start adding ‘guaranteed for injury only’ or ‘can be offset by contract if signed by new team’ clauses in any future deals.

    The players have it better than ever now… so if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it!

  7. That was his smoking gun. Sean Gilbert cares only about Sean Gilbert. If the players a dumb enough to elect him they will get what they deserve. Which is another smackdown by the NFL. Maybe the players learned after electing Smith.

  8. The fact of the matters is no matter what any of us think the players will be voting for the new NFLPA President and Sean’s been selling himself for this job for the last couple of years and more than likely they will vote him is as president.

  9. I have to admit I think his thoughts are interesting. I don’t know if it’ll work, and I think the biggest hurdle will be the 90-day window rule. That being said, after all the garbage the NFL has spouted out from its head honchos the past year, anything to make Goodell, the executives, and the owners quiver that works is OK by me

  10. 1 Peyton Manning Career Earnings $229,732,000
    2 Eli Manning Career Earnings $150,770,000
    3 Tom Brady Career Earnings $149,779,500
    4 Julius Peppers Career Earnings $138,428,000
    5 Drew Brees Career Earnings $131,455,000
    6 Carson Palmer Career Earnings $126,627,242
    7 Michael Vick Career Earnings $120,241,000
    8 Philip Rivers Career Earnings $119,910,000
    9 Larry Fitzgerald Career Earnings $118,282,500
    10 Tony Romo Career Earnings $105,920,000
    11 Ben Roethlisberger Career Earnings $105,279,382
    12 Matthew Stafford Career Earnings $101,678,969
    13 Calvin Johnson Career Earnings $101,316,086
    14 Aaron Rodgers Career Earnings $99,623,256
    15 Mario Williams Career Earnings $97,900,000

  11. The other question – just what does “collusion” even mean? I forget who first said this but it’s true – when players work together for their interests it’s called a union and is treated as a positive, but if owners work together for their interests it’s called collusion and treated as a crime?

  12. loubearkane says:
    Mar 14, 2015 3:06 PM
    I hope SEAN wins, he will throw a wrench into what has been a money printing business for NFL owners.


    Being bitter and jealous of others success is no way to go through life. Face it 90% of these owners made the business or their family did either way it is their business don’t hate cause you will never make enough money to own a team.

  13. Kingmj4891 says:
    Mar 14, 2015 3:33 PM
    loubearkane says:
    Mar 14, 2015 3:06 PM
    I hope SEAN wins, he will throw a wrench into what has been a money printing business for NFL owners.


    Being bitter and jealous of others success is no way to go through life. Face it 90% of these owners made the business or their family did either way it is their business don’t hate cause you will never make enough money to own a team.

    0 0
    It’s not being bitter it’s holding the owners of the NFL accountable. The contracts that most of these players sign are meaningless. Lets take Michael Johnson for one. The Bucs sign him to a 5 year $43.75 million contract to only cut him after the first year. Sean wants owners to pay 10% of any money remaining on a players contract paid to the player if cut, I actually like that then maybe we wouldn’t have these outlandish contracts that everyone knows they’ll never see.

  14. The CBA is the only thing keeping the league going. We’re lucky we had the the illegal TV deal hanging over the oweners head or there wouldn’t be any football. The CBA is not something you want to void.

  15. This is his big secret collusion plan? He’s a tool, but the players were dumb enough to put De Smith in charge. The question is have they learned their lesson having clowns run the show.

  16. They are the owners…they can hold a meeting tomorrow and decide to close down the NFL…what is Sean Gilbert going to do about that?..absolutely nothing…players get paid millions of dollars, there is a argument for more guaranteed money but that’s all…we all love football and want to watch and root for our teams success…as far as the business of football, who really cares as long as they are playing the game…fans foot the bill by paying cable and satellite providers over inflated amounts of money, we buy merchandise and the players get at least half of that revenue…you can’t become a billionaire by working for someone else…until Sean Gilbert gets enough players to leave and play for another league that doesn’t exist what ground does he have to stand on…like it or not the owners can squash this league whenever they want to…that is power…Sean Gilbert just wants to raid their pockets…

  17. Just because an owner is a billionaire, he is not the one paying the players directly. It is his corporation, aka team. If that team were to somehow go bankrupt (it has happened in other sports), or have financial troubles, you can’t go after the owner’s personal wealth, so it is really such a bad thing to put that money into escrow? That is the only thing that really guarantees that it will be there.

  18. Is he serious? “May require” means that the NFL has the right to mandate it. It’s that simple.

    His argument works if the clause read that NFL Owners may put the funds into escrow. In that case, the NFL would be infringing on a right to an option held by the owners.

    But that isn’t what it says. It says nothing whatsoever about the owners, giving them neither any rights nor restricting their rights in any way.

    What it does is give the league a right – the right to require (that is, to mandate) the owners to put the money into escrow.

    It’s really not even a question here, and if the players are collectively gullible and uninformed enough to elect this man then they deserve to be playing for $500 a game.

  19. I’m sick of this crap and hearing the tail wagging the dog. Yes, the owners collude. That’s how the league was built. On consensus.

    NFL players are em-ploy-ees. Period. Can’t understand why any league just doesn’t shut it down for a year, kill the union, restart and move on.

    We fans cheer for colors and logos. We don’t much care for who wears them. But we are all smart enough to understand that it begins and ends with ownership. Yes, the owners who bear the risk and pay the bills. I personally want these labor insurrections crushed once and for all.

  20. If they wanted to go after the owners for collusion, why don’t they use a time when the owners actually colluded, like the “uncapped” 2010 season.

  21. Sean Gilbert is a piece of garbage. He is intent on destroying football. As a player he cared only about himself. Glad this piece of trash never won a championship.

  22. Let’s see…players agreed to this agreement. It is in the agreement that the owners can do this. It protects the players so there guaranteed money is funded. And Ndomikin Suh just signed one of the largest guaranteed contracts in history…yup…slam dunk case Gilbert…you dummy.

  23. I hope the players are smart enough to elect someone that is going to be able to sit at the table with a group of billionaires, and actually be able to get them to listen. These billionaires have very deep pockets and definitely are not used to being told how they should spend their money. If the players elect a leader that wants to come out huffing and puffing, it’s just going to cost them millions of dollars. That’s reality. Sean Gilbert sounds like he should get used to the sound of a door slamming in his face. And that’s not going to be for the players.

  24. I sincerely hope NFL folds and the players start their own player friendly league with new non corrupt owners.

    Id love to watch these owners money vanish into thin air. Couldnt happen 2 a better group of corrupt scumbags

  25. Nice idea but the NFL lawyers both inside and outside counsels are top and stacked 6 deep.

    Even if it held water, which is not terribly convincing, by the time this is resolved with appeals, it would be 2021. It would have cost millions and the PA would probably lose.

    The odds are just not in the PAs favor. It does have the bank to fight a war of attrition with the League.

  26. Mr” Gilbert your not very concerned with history huh?
    5 Player Strikes/lockouts players folded every time
    Without the NFL the billionaire owners go run their other businesses , what exactly do the NFL players do if the league folds? Start their own league? Good luck getting the players to put up the necessary funds to put on 16 games on one Sunday, we’ll get Directv and the Networks to front the money, face it the players don’t have the cash flow .

    Players 0 Owners 5 players don’t have the cash flow to miss 8 game checks .

  27. Sean Gilbert sees this as class warfare. There was no way his nephew, Darrelle Revis, was going to sign with the Patriots for less money. He took to rehab his career for one year but not a long-term contract.

    Stephen A. Smith’s comments about Chip Kelly had more to do with money than they did with race. But it shouldn’t just be about increasing the ceiling of what stars can make.

    I haven’t watched Gilbert closely enough but is he also fighting to increase the NFL’s minimum wage and pushing for the health and safety of players?

    I do know from personal experience that NFL athletes go bankrupt at a far greater rate than does the public as a whole. The financial advice they get, in large part, is atrocious. What is Gilbert doing to ensure guys keep what they do make?

  28. Gilbert is trying to mess up a good thing because he is mad at the league because he can’t play anymore. Players make more money than ever and salaries rise every year.


    Only the top 1% of players like SUH make the big bucks and in terms of the other leagues… Carl Crawford made $40m more than suh 5 years ago. The deal sucks. I blame the players. They don’t have the gumption to strike. If they did, the salary killing franchise tags would be gone and so would the slotted draft salaries.

  29. Gilbert has GOT to be elected by the players for the reason he has staked out, guaranteeing those contracts. No other union has such stupid members to allow management to throw a contract out the window if a player gets injured, etc. What kind of idiots on the take did they vote in in the first place when they gave up guaranteeing contracts? That has got to be reinstituted, or the entire membership of their union has to get tested immediately for mssive brain deficiencies.

    Best of luck to Gilbert winning this election and then slapping the owners around with the threat of labor war unless all contracts here on out are guaranteed, as they always should have been. Salaries should be expected to drop a little, but within a couple years rise pretty close to what they are now, every cent GUARANTEED. If baseball and basketball players were even asked to allow their contracts to be cancelled, essentially, on a GM’s whim, every player would threaten to strike, and those two sports’ owners would back down in fright for all they’d lose. NFL owners are getting away with murder & billions while the players who make it all possible are getting royally shafted.

  30. I’ll never understand people who stand against labor. Do you people have a stake in the league? This isnt the issue i would be attacking the owners over but they should be crushed in the next round of negotiations. Im waiting for cities and states to seize the teams the next time one of this idiot owners want a new stadium payed for with tax money. Run all these teams like Green Bay. Players in all sports should be pushing for a 90/10 revenue split. Im sure alot of people here prefer watching 80 year old men sit in a luxury box.

  31. justintuckrule says

    The deal is fine. The difference is networks are not going to pay that much more for football then basketball. But in basketball each team has 12 players, not 53. So there is more money for players in basketball, baseball, and hockey.


  32. Crawford’s deal was a huge mistake. Thanks to MLB’s stupid business model, it can’t be undone and he is guaranteed that overpaid money while hindering whatever team he plays for. I’m glad it’s not like that in the NFL, especially since there is a cap in the NFL.

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