By agreeing to pay $790 million to settle the Rams relocation litigation, the NFL avoided a Seinfeld finale-style parade of owners onto the witness stand at a trial that was due to begin in January. The league also hopes to avoid the publication of certain documents generated during the litigation.
The settlement agreement signed by the parties on Wednesday requires the destruction of certain documents regarding the case within seven days after the eventual “stipulation of dismissal.” The dismissal is required within seven days after the payment of the $790 million settlement, which is required within 30 days after Wednesday, November 24.
To keep the materials from being destroyed, someone will need to move quickly, seeking production of the documents from the three plaintiffs — all public entities — and then filing a lawsuit along with a request for a court order blocking the destruction. Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has made it clear that his publication intends to proceed accordingly.
Hopefully, it will. The NFL has agreed to pay hundreds of millions in order to prevent a public trial in open court. It’s possible that it’s too late to expunge the information that already was generated during the litigation process, especially since that litigation involved public bodies who can’t make things secret.
Whatever went down, it was enough to get the NFL to pay nearly $800 million. It’s only fair that everyone get a chance to explore those materials in an effort to discover what could be a very inconvenient truth about the NFL.