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NFL Argues That NFLPA Waited Too Long For Collusion Complaint

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The NFL argued in court papers yesterday that the NFLPA should have suspected in ‘10 that the league was colluding to restrain player salaries and filed a complaint then, but because it did not, the union is barred from its current collusion complaint. While the league denies the union’s charge it instituted a secret salary cap in 2010, the NFL argues because the union appears to have suspected collusion in 2010, it was limited to the 90 days following that season to file the claim. “It suffices to say that it is simply incredible for the NFLPA and Class Counsel to assert on the one hand that over $1 billion in player compensation was ‘missing’ in 2010 but assert on the other that they did not know -- and would not have known with the reasonable exercise of due diligence -- until two years later that they had a potential claim of collusion,” the brief states. 

The brief also quotes NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith saying in March ‘10, “[Y]ou see almost a uniform decrease (in club payrolls) … Virtually all of them are down. That’s something you wouldn’t expect in a completely free market.” The argument was a new line of attack from the NFL. The brief included the league’s other arguments, most notably that the current CBA, legal settlement agreement from last year and the dismissal of the lawsuits that ended the lockout all contained language barring the collusion lawsuit. But the NFL also appeared to be poking at the union, saying if its players feel they should bring a lawsuit, it should be one against their own union. “If a member of the NFLPA’s bargaining unit is now unhappy with that Dismissal, his remedy is a claim against the NFLPA for breach of the duty of Fair representation, not a petition to this Court to reopen an expired settlement Agreement.”

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