The 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement signed four years ago by the NFL and the NFL Players Association created a decade of labor of peace. Unless it didn’t.
Via Am Law Daily, the NFLPA spent millions on outside lawyers from March 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. Jeffrey Kessler’s firm, Winston & Strawn, saw its fees rise from $2.7 million to more than $3.5 million, presumably as a result of high-profile fights involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
Latham & Watkins received more than $683,000, Norton Rose Fulbright pocketed more than $425,000, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher received more than $405,000, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice made more than $322,000, Groom Law Group received more than $284,000, and Berens & Miller made more than $134,000. Ten other firms received less than $100,000, with three under $10,000.
It all adds up to more than $6 million in legal fees — more than twice the compensation of roughly $2.5 million paid to executive director DeMaurice Smith.
That’s a healthy sum for Smith, and some would say the union could find someone else who would do the job competently for a lot less money. That’s the same argument often made regarding the NFL, which has paid Commissioner Roger Goodell $44 million and $35 million over the last two years for which the numbers have been disclosed.
On one hand, the compensation for both jobs needs to be high enough to attract someone who could make as much or more in another line of work. On the other hand, there’s a practical limit to how much the job is worth. Either way, it still pay a lot better to be the head of the league than the head of the union.