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SBD/February 18, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Motion Granted To Hold Hearing Concerning Unsealing Docs About NFL Using TV Money
Published February 18, 2011
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TRYING TO SHOW PLANNED USE OF SSA REVENUE: The NFLPA in court papers said that the information it is seeking to have unsealed “describe the NFL’s development, implementation and execution of its plan to use the shared SSA revenues through the TV contracts to finance a 2011 lockout that, in turn, would be used as immediate and overwhelming bargaining leverage against the players.” The NFLPA said in court papers that there is nothing in the unredacted documents “that can overcome the strong public policy against secrecy in the federal court proceedings. … The NFLPA (has) an institutional interest in communicating with NFL players to inform them about efforts to vindicate [their] rights under the SSA and CBA. This is especially important because the NFL has made several extremely inaccurate public statements about this proceeding to divide players from their representatives, and to persuade players not to pursue their legal rights.” The NFLPA in its motion cited public statements made by Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, including a statement on BostonHerald.com in which he said, “Remember, when the players union lost its case, which was a bogus case to begin with, I had to give a deposition. They collected $15 million in fees that the players paid, think about that!” The NFLPA’s motion said, “It is highly misleading and very troubling to NFL players that Mr. Kraft could make such public proclamations in a case in which he knows the NFL was found guilty of two SSA violations that the NFL is not even challenging on appeal.”
EBERSOL, MCMANUS AMONG WITNESSES: The heads of three major television companies testified on behalf of the NFL last month in the NFLPA’s action against the league’s use of media fees, said NFL outside counsel Gregg Levy. NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol, CBS Sports President Sean McManus and News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO Chase Carey each provided testimony during the trial, Levy said, presumably backing up the NFL’s contention that requirements in TV deals to pay the fees even in a work stoppage are standard features of sports media contracts. Each side had five witnesses. The other two for the NFL were TV consultants Neal Pilson and Doug Perlman. The NFLPA utilized five economic witnesses: Stanford Univ. professor Roger Noll, Univ. of Chicago professor Kevin Murphy, Wharton School professor Thomas Donaldson, former inDemand and USA Network exec Steve Brenner and Chilmark Partners Founder David Schulte. CBS declined to comment on behalf of McManus. Carey, Murphy, Donaldson and Schulte could not be reached for comment. The remainder confirmed their roles.