NFLPA, Players Say No Conflict In Sharing Same Legal Counsel
The NFLPA and three of the four players the league suspended for their role in the Saints' alleged bounty scandal said in court documents this afternoon there is no conflict in the individuals and union sharing the same counsel. The judge overseeing the case, Helen Berrigan, yesterday raised the possibility there should be separate counsel because acrimony between the league and NFLPA was so great it could cloud the representation of the players.
The NFLPA in response said the outside counsel, Jeffrey Kessler, now of Winston & Strawn, has long handled this function. And in a new twist, the NFLPA said the players would engage in settlement talks with the NFL but the league will not pledge not to use those talks against them in the litigation. "Most recently, the NFLPA reiterated its request for non-prejudicial settlement talks last Thursday," the union wrote. "But the NFL never responded to that request."
The NFLPA did say if the court ruled for the need for separate counsel, the NFLPA would do so voluntarily, suggesting it would not appeal such a decision. The judge is expected to rule shortly on the player’s request to stay the suspensions while the case is tried. The players have argued they would suffer irreparable harm if they miss any games. The league contends the matter is subject to the CBA and cannot be ruled on by a court.