As of the time I'm writing this, it's about 24 hours before labor Armageddon hits in the National Football League, and the situation is bleak at best. Even after days of mediation, the two sides don't appear to be very close to agreeing on anything, and a lockout appears to be inevitable.
However, Judge David Doty. . .who has made so many pro-player, pro-union decisions over the years that the league tried to have him removed from jurisdiction over the league. . .gave the players some serious leverage on Tuesday, when he ruled that the NFL's $4 billion television contract was negotiated in bad faith and that the league could not collect on the television revenue that they had been counting on in the event of a strike.
When the league signed a contract with the players, they agreed to negotiate in good faith in order to maximize the profits gained by the NFL and, as a result, the amount they would have to share with the players. But they failed to do that, according to Judge Doty. . .oh, and this little tidbit from the league's 2008 contract with DirecTV.
The extended contract provides that DirecTV will pay a substantial fee if the 2011 season is not cancelled and up to 9% more, at the NFL's discretion, if the 2011 season is cancelled. Of the total amount payable in the event of a cancelled season, 42% of that fee is nonrefundable and the remainder would be credited to the following season. Op. 27, 71-72; Goodell Direct Test. 11. As a result, the NFL could receive substantially more from DirecTV in 2011 if it locks out the Players then if it does not.
This means that the NFL knew that a lockout was coming, and they negotiated a deal that would give them something to fall back on in the event that a lockout happened. The league would have actually found a way to profit more if the season were to be canceled than they would have if the games were to go on as normal.
One would expect the NFL to appeal this ruling to a higher authority, but as it stands now, if the owners don't have that $4 billion cushion behind them, they may be more willing to come to the bargaining table and try to negotiate a deal in good faith, rather than the one they negotiated previously.