SBD/Closing Bell

NFLPA Asks Judge To Rule On Special Master Appeal By March 3

The NFLPA is asking a federal judge to issue a decision on its appeal of the Special Master case by March 3, the day before the NFL can lock out players, according to a source familiar with the situation. The union did not receive the injunction it was seeking to prevent the NFL from receiving more than $4B in TV contract money if games are not played this year. U.S. District Court Judge David Doty has set a hearing for oral arguments on the case for Feb. 24 in a federal courtroom in Minneapolis, this source said. The source requested anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The NFL CBA expires on midnight March 3.

Special Master Stephen Burbank ruled last week that the NFL did violate the Reggie White Settlement agreement, which governs the CBA, with respect to its negotiation of what the union has called "lockout insurance" in its contracts with ESPN and NBC. But Burbank did not grant the union the injunction it was seeking and, instead, awarded damages. The union filed an immediate appeal of Burbank's decision, but that appeal was filed under seal.

Although details of the case have been kept secret, the Feb. 24 hearing is set to be heard in open court. If Doty was to reverse Burbank's decision, and grant an injunction stopping the NFL from receiving TV revenues even if ‘11 NFL games are canceled, it could give the NFLPA more leverage in the ongoing CBA negotiation, labor experts say. The NFLPA won a damage award of about $6M, which NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash at a press conference last week called "modest."

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