Last week, Judge David Doty in Minnesota dropped a pretty big bombshell on the NFL, ruling that the league couldn't use nearly $4 billion in "lockout insurance" stemming from television contracts.
Doty's descriptive language in his ruling drew quite a bit of attention, particularly the part about DirecTV having to pay more if there was a work stoppage in 2011 than if there wasn't. And now the NFLPA has filed a motion to have Doty unseal the evidence and testimony from the proceedings in the broadcast revenues case.
"The NFL cannot be permitted to comment publicly about these proceedings and then turn around to embrace a cloak of confidentiality that thwarts the public’s right to know," union lawyers wrote in the memorandum. "The NFL Bears the burden of showing the need to keep the underlying record sealed. Despite the opportunity, no such showing has been made."
In its motion, the NFLPA also argued that the league hasn't explained why the records are sealed and is refusing to cooperate with the union's attempts to redact certain portions of the records in order to protect "third-party information" as it relates to broadcast partners.
Clearly, this is an attempt to ramp up the public pressure on ownership as the deadline for mediation closes, but the NFL doesn't seem to be taking the bait immediately.
"We will respond to that filing in due course," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press.
At some point, it seems likely that the NFL's records (financial, legal or otherwise) will see the light of day. And that'll likely either be voluntary or through the stage of legal discovery.
But with the sports-watching world genuinely concerned as to whether or not football will get played in 2011, withholding information that could lead to a settlement of the labor issues isn't doing the NFL any public relations favors.
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