The National Football League seems to be an unstoppable force of nature, led by a commissioner, Roger Goodell, who has managed to collectively bargain his way into being judge, jury, and executioner of league policy. NFL players often have to go outside of league offices and to United States courts to have their grievances heard, except that the NFL is just as indomitable in court as it is everywhere else.
But if you are going to defeat the NFL in court, claiming collusion is a better bet than most. The NFL has been busted for it before. And it’s really not that hard to infer when 32 or so owners get together to make a market crushing deal….
Since Japan is about to sink, drown, or blow up, you might have missed the fact that 32 or so billionaires officially can’t figure out how to share profits with a few hundred millionaires. That’s right, the National Football League — the most successful sports association ever — is in a stage of lockout. The owners and the players can’t agree, and now both sides have lawyered up and are heading to court.
The NFL owners have locked out the players, and the players have asked for an injunction preventing the lockout. Welcome to Brady v. NFL.
Naturally, I’m on the side of the marginally greedy, financially illiterate players over the unimaginably greedy, financially irresponsible owners. Bill Simmons perfectly captures the real core of this fight that the owners are picking with their employees.
And there are all kinds of funky legal issues swirling around the case: the player’s union “sham” decertification, the NFL’s T.V. revenue war chest they should have been sharing with the players all along, and enough Sherman Antitrust Act angles to fill a casebook.
And there’s legal star power: as we mentioned this morning, David Boies has joined the fight on the side of money grubbing owners who would happily sacrifice the long term health of their employees for some more short term profits.
But this morning we should focus on the man who could be “the Decider,” U.S. District Judge David Doty. The man has such a history of frustrating the NFL owner/oligarchs that simply getting the case into his courtroom could force the owners back into negotiating in good faith. We should know more about this guy.
Remember, the 1994 Major League Baseball strike was settled by a judge — and her name is Sonia Sotomayor — only she’s got a better title now. Just saying….
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