SBD/May 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLPA's Smith Said Union Had No Choice But To File Lawsuit, As NFL "Violated" Rules

Smith, NFLPA filed a collusion lawsuit against the league on Wednesday
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, in his first remarks since a collusion lawsuit was filed against the NFL in U.S. District Court in Minnesota on Wednesday, said that the union “had no choice but to seek legal action,” according to A.J. Perez of FOXSPORTS.com. Smith said, “Simply stated, cartels do what will cartels do when left unchecked. … When we feel those rules are violated, we will, on behalf of our players, always act in their best interests.” He added, “The second paradigm we know is that we have to live within the laws of these United States. Once again, where we find those involved in this business have violated that duty, out of respect for our players, that’s what we’ll do.” Smith said, “I guess the first thing I would ask is that (the owners) aren’t denying the existence of the collusion, does it?” An arbitrator upheld the penalties given to the Redskins and Cowboys for allegedly frontloading contracts during the uncapped ’10 season. Smith said that it was “not a coincidence the NFLPA brought its lawsuit a day later.” Perez noted the league “has denied that collusion among ownership ever existed” (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/24). Smith Friday morning on ESPN Radio said, “We’ll have an opportunity certainly to find out what information the National Football League has … and certainly going to be interested in whether there’s any emails between people talking about a secret agreement. It is our job, frankly, to enforce the laws of the United States if we believe they’ve been broken, and certainly our right to enforce the laws under the CBA." Smith: "We have a great deal and a strong deal ... but the critical part of that deal is going to ensure that everybody abides by the rules” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 5/25).

ALL TEAMS ARE DEFENDANTS: In DC, Mark Maske reported NFLPA officials Thursday confirmed that all 32 NFL teams, including the Redskins and Cowboys, “are defendants in the lawsuit.” Smith said, “If there’s evidence that is developed later on that would demonstrate that any one of those teams did not abide by the conspiracy, then my guess is those teams will make the appropriate assertions and we’ll see where we end up.” When asked if he thinks the evidence indicates the Redskins and Cowboys did not participate in the alleged collusion, Smith said: “My view is the facts that we had justified and supported the complaint that we filed” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/24).

UNHAPPY CAMPER: Smith said that the NFL and the players’ union “are looking for a new candidate to oversee a population study that would be a precursor to players being blood-tested for human growth hormone.” He added that the search "must recommence after a mutually agreeable candidate withdrew from conducting the study.” Smith: “We just recently found out ... the league’s choice to run the population study that we had consented to recently withdrew and said that he wasn’t the right person to get this done. I’m thrilled that the league has made a decision to move forward with the population study. I’m a little frustrated that their selection has now pulled out so that we have to again re-up and try to get this done.” The WASHINGTON POST’s Maske noted the league “had no comment.” But a source said that the league “believes the union’s actions caused the scientist who had agreed to do the population study to withdraw” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/24). USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell writes, "Seems that anything the NFL suggests these days is a bad idea to Smith” (USA TODAY, 5/25).
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