MINNEAPOLIS (KDKA/AP) – With the lockout less than two days away, the NFL Players Association won a key ruling by a federal judge on Tuesday.
The judge ruled that the NFL violated its agreement with the union, which had asked that the $4 billion in TV money be placed in escrow until the end of any lockout.
The union was arguing that the NFL failed to secure the maximum revenue possible when it restructured broadcast contracts in 2009 and 2010, and claimed the deals were designed to guarantee owners enough money to survive a lockout. The union argued this violated an agreement between the sides that says the NFL must make good-faith efforts to maximize revenue for players.
In a statement after the ruling, U.S. District Judge David Doty said, “the NFL undertook contract renegotiations to advance its own interests and harm the interests of the players.”
Doty has overseen NFL labor issues since he presided over the 1993 decision that cleared the way for the current free agency system.
The $4 billion in TV revenue was the owners “war chest” to help them sustain a potential lockout when they opted out of the current CBA in 2008.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello downplayed the significance of the ruling, saying the 32 teams were “prepared for any contingency.”
The NFLPA’s assistant executive director for external affairs, George Atallah said, “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.”