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Volume 24 No. 113
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NFL Execs Say Doty Decision Did Not Cause Extension Of CBA

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash said that a federal judge’s decision to require the league to put media fees into escrow during a lockout had no effect on the league staying at the negotiating table. The league had wanted to be able to use the fees. Federal Judge David Doty made the decision earlier Tuesday evening when the union was expected to decertify and the league to lock out the players upon the expiration of the CBA, then scheduled to end at the end of the day Thursday. The two sides since have agreed to extend talks until March 11.

There have been many suggestions that Doty’s decision pressured the league, not just because of the media fees, but worries a player-led antitrust lawsuit would end up in Doty’s court. He expressed sympathy in his media fees ruling for antitrust complaint against the NFL. One of the central issues in the dispute between the two sides is the role of Doty, whom the league would like to remove from overseeing the CBA. The union wants him to stay.

Asked if Doty’s decision had an effect, Goodell, following a brief press conference, turned as he entered the revolving doors of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service building and almost laughed, and replied, “No. We have been at the table.” Pash similarly looked amused following his subsequent press conference when asked about Doty, and replied, “Oh, no.”

A source said not to interpret the extension of talks as reason for optimism. While many are presuming the extension means the sides are closing the gap, the source said while there has been some progress, it is not as much of a closure as some would hope. This source, unlike Goodell and Pash, said Doty's ruling earlier in the week did affect the league's stance.