NFLPA Says Owners Colluded with a Secret Salary Cap
If the Redskins want to continue their fight with the NFL over lost salary cap, they shouldn't expect much help from the NFL Players Association lawsuit that was filed against the league last Wednesday.
A day after an arbitrator ruled against the Redskins and the Cowboys in their salary cap grievance hearing, the NFLPA filed a lawsuit claiming collusion by the NFL in the uncapped 2010 season. But the NFLPA made it clear that this suit was not filed as a reaction to that hearing.
"What we are seeking remedies for is the collusion that took place in 2010," NFLPA lawyer Jeff Kessler said. "This case is not about the penalties imposed on the Redskins and Cowboys in 2012." Kessler said it's a "coincidence" that the suit was filed a day after the Redskins and Cowboys lost their hearing.
The players union claimed that the NFL imposed a secret salary cap, during the uncapped year of 2010 that cost the players at least $1 billion. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which oversees NFL labor matters.
The complaint claims a "conspiracy" to establish a $123 million salary cap for the 2010 season, even though the owners did not have the authority to do so. The Redskins and Cowboys have had their future salary caps lowered for overspending in 2010. The Redskins lost $36 million in cap space over two years, while the Cowboys lost $10 million over the same period of time. Last Tuesday, both teams lost a grievance against those reductions.
"When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act. We cannot stand by when we now know that the owners conspired to collude," union chief DeMaurice Smith said.
A league statement said the collective bargaining agreement signed last August to end the 18-week lockout prohibited the filing of these claims, and that players' lawyers signed a separate agreement agreeing to the terms. "It is clear there was no collusion," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. "These claims are totally unfounded."
The Redskins and Cowboys released a statement last Tuesday that indicated they would abide by arbitrator Stephen Burbank's decision. If they for some reason decided to sue, they would be filing suit against their partners, something most owners would rather not do.
"We're representing the players," Kessler said. "The Cowboys and Redskins will have to speak for themselves with their own lawyers."