The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the NFL Players Association lawsuit that claimed the league engaged in collusion and had a secret salary cap in the uncapped 2010 season, which was shown by the stiff cap penalties later imposed on Washington and Dallas.
U.S. District Judge David Doty dismissed the claim, but the appellate court partially reversed that order, according to the Associated Press report.
NFL.com's Albert Breer said the ruling does not necessarily support the union's claims. The ruling said the NFLPA has a "heavy burden" but will be given the chance to prove its claims.The case goes back to Doty's jurisdiction in Minneapolis, the AP said.
The NFL didn't seem concerned.
“As the Court emphasized, today’s decision is entirely procedural in nature,” the league said in a written statement, via the Washington Post. “Far from validating the Union’s claim, the Court specifically highlighted the heavy burden that the NFLPA faces in establishing this claim, and we remain highly confident that the claim will be dismissed yet again.”
The union, not surprisingly, was a little more optimistic.
“Our union will always pursue and protect the rights of its players," the NFLPA said in a statement. "We are pleased that the Eighth Circuit ruled that players have the opportunity to proceed with their claims. Through discovery and a hearing, we can understand how collusion took place. We have notified the NFL of its obligations to preserve all relevant documents and communications.”
The problem is that the NFLPA practically signed off on the penalties in the latest collective-bargaining agreement. Doty said when he dismissed the case in 2012 that the "NFLPA released the claims it attempts to assert in the underlying action.” That shows that the union, once again, is trying to complain about something after it already agreed to it.
But it doesn't mean there wasn't collusion. The league has and will say there wasn't, but that's intellectually dishonest. The Cowboys and Redskins were given severe penalties for going over the cap in an uncapped year, brought on when the CBA reached its final year without being extended. Again ... they were penalized for going over the cap in an uncapped year. Common sense tells you there was collusion. Or else why the penalties? What rule did they break? The penalties were perhaps the most unfair in NFL history, inexcusable by commissioner Roger Goodell, but somehow they were administered and there wasn't a tremendous outrage. The NFL owners weren't going to say a peep and open up the possibility of admitting collusion, which is obviously hard to prove (it's not like owners wrote it down or anything, you'd assume). The union probably blew it, so their claims become dubious. The NFL will likely get away with the most blatant case of collusion possible (again, they penalized teams for GOING OVER THE CAP IN AN UNCAPPED YEAR) without a scratch.
But, the lawsuit is still alive for the moment. We'll see if anything of substance comes of the union's second try at it.
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