Documents in TV Contracts Case Now Public

February 25th, 2011

The NFLPA and NFL presented arguments to US District Judge David Doty in Minneapolis Thursday as the Players Association appealed a previous ruling by Special Master Stephen Burbank.

The NFLPA challenged a somewhat split ruling handed down by Burbank Feb. 1, saying the NFL clearly negotiated television contracts without using “good faith” and “best efforts” to achieve deals which mutually benefitted Players and owners during the term of the Reggie White settlement agreement (SSA). As part of the SSA, which governs the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Players allow the NFL to negotiate contracts on the Players’ behalf. Since the money from those contracts are part of the Total Revenues shared between the owners and Players, the Settlement Agreement obligates the NFL to use its best efforts to maximize revenues.

However, in 2008 and 2009, the NFL reopened its network contracts and demanded new lockout payment provisions – meaning the networks would have to pay the NFL during the 2011 season even if no games are played, and the NFL could repay the networks over the life of the contract. Therefore, the NFLPA asserts that when the NFL built its $4 billion “Lockout Insurance” fund, it violated its obligation to the Players by acting in complete self-interest and leaving money on the table.

The objection shows the NFL intended to use this guaranteed money as leverage over the Players as owners pursued a new CBA. The original complaint was filed in June, 2010.

After Thursday’s hearing and in line with a motion filed by the NFLPA, Doty released to the public redacted versions of Burbank’s ruling and the NFLPA’s objection to the public. The Feb. 1 ruling by Burbank, was released for the first time Thursday. According to the Associated Press: “Doty only agreed to a redacted release out of respect for commercial confidentiality of the TV contracts. Many figures and details are blacked out, though a few noteworthy nuggets emerged from the unsealing.

Burbank’s opinion is available in redacted form HERE.

Also according to the Associated Press: “The NFLPA’s objection to Burbank’s ruling includes testimony from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that says the league needed to ‘realistically assume’ a lockout to get a CBA it wants. It also includes chart-style NFL memos that acknowledge a ‘strengthened position in labor negotiations’ as reasons for redoing the broadcast contracts.”

The NFLPA’s objection is available in redacted form HERE.

As Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated writes, “The players would be in a tough spot if Doty rules against them because, contrary to popular perception, this is not a battle of billionaires versus millionaires. On average only a handful of players on each team make $1 million or more each year. The league knows this — just as clubs know which of their players are strung out financially and have taken advances on future salaries. With a $4 billion war chest, teams could find it easier to hold out and squeeze players.” Trotter was in court Thursday, and his full story can be read here.

The full Associated Press story can be found here.

One Response to “Documents in TV Contracts Case Now Public”

  1. Dan Rakow Says:

    Despite the TV Contract Case overall I really like the NFL TV current formula with FOX covering the NFC with NFC interconference away,CBS covering the AFC with AFC interconference away,NBC covering Sunday Night with top teams in first half and games subject to Flex second half,ESPN covering Monday Night in which I’m blessed and happy that Cable/Sattelite is showing MNF and NFL Network covering Thursday Night during second half of season.

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