It’s becoming increasingly clear (as will be demonstrated in an upcoming post) that the NFL and NFLPA would prefer rolling the dice and risking a loss in court over working out a settlement.
As explained last night, there’s a way for Judge Richard M. Berman to fashion a lose-lose outcome, by sending the controversy back with instructions for further proceedings that would be unappealing to both sides.
For the NFL, there’s also a bigger picture to keep in mind. If Judge Berman’s ruling contains broader observations regarding the inability of Commissioner Roger Goodell to appoint himself to impartially handle these appeals personally, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will become the new default option for any litigation arising from player suspensions resolved by Goodell.
And if the NFL tries to get cute and pre-emptively filed a lawsuit defending the ruling in some other state the next time around (like the league did with Brady), it will be much more difficult to get the federal court where the league office is located to punt, the way the Minnesota federal court did.
It’s unclear whether the NFL is worried about this case operating as a de facto stripping of Goodell’s final say, but it should be. Judge Berman could craft a decision that, if it survives on appeal, could become binding legal precedent in the jurisdiction where The Shield resides.
Speaking of an appeal, that raises the stakes even higher for the NFL. If the appeals court agrees with Judge Berman, then it all becomes a much stronger precedent for future cases.
It’s another big reason for the NFL to settle the case at a time when the NFL seems to have no interest in doing so.