Blog Entry

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

Posted on: March 1, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 8:25 pm
 
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In yet another twist to the labor dispute, the NFL owners took a back-hand from U.S. District Judge David Doty today when he overruled special master Stephen Burbank and said the league could not have access to the TV network money for next season.

Doty ruled that Burbank had made several mistakes in his ruling from last month in which he said the NFL hadn’t violated the CBA with its “lockout insurance” deal with the networks, which would still pay the league about $4 billion even if there are missed games in 2011.

Instead, Doty said the league had breached the CBA and ordered a hearing to determine the damages accrued by the NFLPA. Doty also could – and probably will – keep that $4 billion from the owners if a lockout occurs. All along, the NFLPA has asked that the amount be kept in escrow.

Wrote Doty in his ruling: "The court overrules the special master's findings as to the NFL's breach of the SSA relating to its contracts with DirecTV, CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN, and holds that the NFL breached the SSA as to those contracts.”

Here’s the NFL’s statement, via Greg Aiello: "As we have frequently said, our clubs are prepared for any contingency, this decision included. Today's ruling will have no effect on our efforts to negotiate a new, balanced labor agreement."

Doty has ruled on NFL labor disputes for the past two decades, and the owners desperately want him off the case, because they think he’s pro-union. Today’s ruling certainly won’t change that opinion, but if Doty’s ruling forces the owners to get serious about negotiating, knowing they won’t get that TV money and knowing they've lost a measurable amount of leverage, NFL fans will love him forever.

Look for the owners to appeal the decision, but make no mistake: this is a sizable victory for the union.

And the NFLPA's statement: "This ruling means there is irrefutable evidence that owners had a premeditated plan to lockout players and fans for more than two years. The players want to play football. That is the only goal we are focused on."

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Comments

Since: Dec 5, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2011 8:37 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

I will only love this judge's pompous a$$ if the union gets busted , and  players salaries come down to human levels and families can actually take their kids to games again , other than that SCREW HIM



Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2011 8:37 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

Judge David Doty is a great guy



Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2011 8:28 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

I guess the special master was not so special. 



Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2011 8:09 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

Judge Doty is also assuming that the NFL is guaranteed to lockout the players.  If the contract expires without a new one taking effect, is it technically a lockout anymore?  Plus, what if the owners don't actually call for an official lockout-- what if they say they're willing to pay the roster bonuses in the meanwhile and not have a lockout as a sign of good faith bargaining with the players?
Excellent points.  I also heard the NFLPA was going to de-certify because that would prevent the owners from locking them out?  If there's no certified union, what would the network payment be violating?




Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2011 8:07 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

Lockout insurance... man I love all these fancy made-up insurances
Well, this isn't exactly "insurance".  The network deal that the players were so happy with because it guaranteed them money included language that the teams would be compensated, games or no games.  So now, the players aren't happy with the network deal. 

What this really underscores is one of the least-discussed negotiations to take place.  There is no way the owners will continue to allow an obvious NFLPA stooge like Doty to remain the bottom line for all labor decisions.  I'll be curious to see just how far the NFLPA will go to protect him in that role - he's been very, very good to them.



Since: Jan 18, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2011 8:01 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

Why should the NFL get any money from the networks if there is a lockout? This is ridiculous. Why would the money be put in escrow? Seems like the networks could refuse to pay if there is nothing to broadcast.



Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:58 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

Judge Doty is also assuming that the NFL is guaranteed to lockout the players.  If the contract expires without a new one taking effect, is it technically a lockout anymore?  Plus, what if the owners don't actually call for an official lockout-- what if they say they're willing to pay the roster bonuses in the meanwhile and not have a lockout as a sign of good faith bargaining with the players?  How bad would that make the NFLPA look when they've been crying since last August that a lockout was inevitable and the owners are the devil reincarnate?  I would love to see the look on DeMaurice Smith's face when he gets asked in front of a camera by a reporter what he thinks of the lockout that didn't happen if the NFL pulled that one off.  In addition, if the NFL didn't lockout the players and told DirecTV, CBS, FOX, et. al. that they could plan for football in September because they want to give the fans what they want, would they then be able to tap the money Judge Doty declared off-limits?  If the players aren't locked out and the NFL is negotiating, then they're not circumventing the CBA or the spirit of it.



Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:40 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

The bottom line is, there is specific language in the CBA that prohibits ANY FORM of lock-out insurance or kick bacls from the networks. It makes for a level playing field this way, and hopefully will spur the owners to move a little quicker, which will make the union HAVE to act faster. No one wants to be the bad guy to the fans. The owners have alot of valid points, and most players know it. Just get it done!



Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:33 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

On the other hand the players don't deserve any money ether. To be honest everybody is greedy, but the players union should be forced to give a lot of money back and the owners should be forced to put in the contract that any new stadiums built they have to pay at least 60 percent so they have to put the money back in for the fans. The only people to get sceewed in this contract dispute is us anyway.



Since: Oct 3, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:32 pm
 

District judge rules NFL can't keep network money

They OWN the teams/company.  They can do whatever they want.  The networks are big boys they knew what was in the contract.  And please, this is about a union (like them all) that has long outlived it's usefulness and has now become greedy.  It's easy to gang up on the guys who prepared for the worst, and have the money, (see 2008 US election when our country was feeling sorry for itself looking for a handout from the government) must be someone elses fault with all those unsafe work environments the NFL provides and the low wages.



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