Labor peace? Not for long

DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell

The NFL and its players union could be back in a Twin Cities court again soon. This time, the argument is over penalties waged because of spending during the uncapped year.

Just when you thought there was labor peace in the NFL, guess again.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association could be back in a Twin Cities courtroom as Judge David Doty's court could once again be the center of the NFL universe. Doty, the judge who oversaw the Reggie White lawsuit 20 years ago (and, in the process, retained judicial authority over future challenges to his decision), could find himself facing another legal challenge between the league and the NFLPA over charges that the league colluded in the uncapped year.

When the owners opted out of the last collective bargaining agreement, which eventually led to the 2011 lockout, the 2010 season was supposed to be without a salary cap. With an uncapped year, the theory was that teams could spend as much or as little as they wanted. However, after the new CBA was reached, the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins were both stripped of salary cap space for overspending during the uncapped year. The implication of that ruling is that, while there allegedly was no salary cap, the Cowboys and Redskins were penalized for violating an unwritten cap rule.

On face value, it would appear that the NFLPA may have a case for collusion. No teams were penalized for under-spending during the uncapped season and there were some who were well under the previous minimum needed under the rules of the salary cap. The penalties to Dallas and Washington appear to show that an unofficial salary cap was still in place.

The players association began collecting evidence Thursday to present to Judge Doty in order to get him to re-open the White anti-trust case. As part of that process, the NFLPA has requested internal documents from the NFL to help bolster its case.

There has been no legal acknowledgement yet as to whether the players association has a case, but, from the time the NFL imposed the penalties to Dallas and Washington for spending too much during an uncapped year, ears were perked because, if the season was truly uncapped, both organizations should have been able to spend as much (or as little) as they wanted.

Stay tuned. The labor peace that was hailed 11 months ago may not be as peaceful as it sounds.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here. Recommended Stories