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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NFL labor battle Part II

I would rather force a cheese grater down my throat then write about the NFL’s ongoing labor battle, but hey, you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do.

Thankfully, we received some excellent news yesterday regarding the NFL players association once non-existent leverage.

It came from this guy:
David Doty

Who may as well be this guy:

Why am I comparing an 82-year old district court judge to God? Because dear readers (all six of you), he might have saved the 2011-2012 season. So before we go any further, let’s give Judge David Doty a hearty round of applause for one, siding with the players, two, not being a dick, and three, giving the players association some much needed leverage over Roger Goodell and friends.

So what happened?

Let’s backtrack a moment and discuss exactly what case Judge Doty was presiding over. The Union has accused the NFL of not maxing out possible revenue earned from television contracts; instead ensuring that the NFL would be paid roughly $4 billion dollars in the event of a lockout. Wrap your brains around that for a moment.

Ok, we good now? So essentially, the NFL neglected to maximize profit from T.V contracts in order to get paid during a work stoppage. How f******* reprenhsible is that? And here’s the worst part: these contracts with CBS, FOX, and NBC were renegotiated in 2008, right after the NFL opted out of the soon-to-be-expired Collective Bargaining Agreement. So for over two years those slimly, oily, shit-faced ass-bags were planning to lock the players out if need be (and there would be need, because why would the players agree to the crappy offers the owners have put on the table?). One last jarring indictment of the NFL and owners: in the 2008 contract negotiations with FOX, FOX was reluctant to pay the NFL during the lockout, of which the NFL responded: that’s a deal-breaker, suck-a my dick…or something to that effect.

The NFLPA (NFL players association), according to the National Football Post, argued that the NFL:

“Chose to negotiate “lockout insurance” at the expense of getting the most possible revenue from the deals, revenue shared by the players.”

So there you go, Judge Doty had to decide whether the union’s accusations were legit or whether the briefcase of money he was given by Roger Goodell under the table was enough to “influence” his decision. Just kidding on that last part (I think).

So what was Judge Doty’s ruling?

Thankfully, Doty ruled in favored of the Players Union, declaring that the NFL utilized unfair business practices in compiling a “warchest” of funds in order to survive a prolonged lockout while the players would receive NOTHING. He also opened up a can of wup-ass on Special Master Stephen Burbank, criticizing him for, “legal errors and erroneously concluding earlier this month that the NFL can act like a self-interested conglomerate when in fact it is bound by legal agreements to make deals that benefit both league and player.”

Said Doty himself:

“The record shows that the NFL undertook contract renegotiations to advance its own interests and harm the interests of the players.”

Allow me to translate into normal people speak: “I studied what’s going on here, and came to the conclusion that the NFL doesn’t really give a f*** about its players, but ABSOLUTELY needs those golden toilet seats and fountains that spew 100 dollar bills rumored to be in Roger Goodell’s office.”

Furthermore, the NFL is expected to act in “good faith” in its business practices and fairly represent the player’s association in all its dealings. Somehow, I don’t see putting a mean $4 billion in the bank so the owners can implement a lockout and strike an extremely favorable collective bargaining agreement as acting in “good faith”.

Thankfully, Judge Doty agrees.

What does it mean?

According to the National Football Post, the NFL will appeal the ruling and take its chances at the appellate level. Naturally, those bastards don’t think they’ve done anything wrong: “Today’s ruling will have no effect on our efforts to negotiate a new, balanced labor agreement” and the 32 teams were merely “prepared for any contingency." Still, as I wrote in my previous guide to the labor talks, the union will likely decertify, and depending on what happens in the coming weeks, Judge Doty may either put the $4 billion in escrow or convert it into financial damages that will be awarded to the players association.

Why does this Doty guy--as badass as he sounds--get all of the NFL labor cases?
In response to your first remark, yes, David Doty is very much a badass. He’s an 82-year old former marine who was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987, and probably fully capable of kicking my ass with one hand tied around his back while writing a legal document with his left foot and bashing my brains out with a life size statue of Roger Goodell. But that’s beside the point.

He’s been presiding over NFL labor battles since the early 1990’s when the players gained the leverage they needed to extract such benefits as free agency and he presided over what became known as the agreement of 1993. One of the provisions entailed in that somewhat mysterious sounding agreement was a provision in which all disputes first go through a special master and then to Judge Doty. This was because the players were worried the owners would not abide by the agreements and knew that Judge Doty would give both sides fair treatment and rule accordingly.

So you see, NFL owners have been greedy bastards since the beginning of time…

Why should the players decertify now, risking their clean public image in the midst of negotiations rather than wait until after the CBA expires?

According to Lester Munson of ESPN,

“…But Doty's jurisdiction over the NFL's labor case expires with the current agreement, meaning Thursday night. If the players wait and decertify later, they would have no chance of staying in Doty's courtroom and would have to take their chances before another judge. But if they decertify before midnight Thursday and then immediately file antitrust litigation, that litigation automatically goes to Doty, who will maintain control of it until its conclusion even if the CBA is no longer in effect.”

If the Union does indeed decertify, which if I understand everything correctly is almost certain, than it will absolutely be before the current CBA expires. It may be bad PR to decertify in the midst of negotiations, but taking the case to another judge, who may be more favorable to the owners, could be disastrous.

The bottom line

Judge David Doty is my f****** hero. Ruling in favor of the players association likely means that the owners $4 billion in savings will be inaccessible, thus, leverage has swiftly been turned in favor of the Union. You think the owners will be as amenable to a lockout now as they were when they knew they could continue bird watching in the forests of Albania, or whatever else rich people do? HELL NO. They’re scared, they’re vulnerable, they know they have no fall-back, and they realize that if the union decertifies by 11:59 Thursday evening their fate will continue to be decided in the court room of the accursed David Doty, bane of the rich, savior of the poor (Ok, maybe that was a little over the top—sue me).

Can we stop? This crap is so complicated brain matter is leaking out of my ears.

Couldn’t have said it any better myself…

In Doty we trust

For more information, check out this piece by Lester Munson (long but extremely detailed/informative), this one in the National Football Post, and this piece on ESPN. All of which I used in writing this column...

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