NFLPA Collusion Case Reinstated in Appeals Court Over ‘Secret Salary Cap’

NFLPA proceeding with lawsuit against the league for ‘secret salary cap’ in 2010


Remember the collusion case against the NFL, when NFL players accused the league of imposing a secret salary cap during what was supposed to be an uncapped year in 2010? It was denied by U.S. District Judge David Doty back in 2012, when the suit was filed, but that decision has been overturned in federal appeals court, allowing the NFLPA to proceed with its claim that the league’s alleged secret salary cap cost the players at least $1 billion.

“The union will always pursue and protect the rights of its players,” the NFLPA said in a statement issued Friday. “We are pleased that the Eighth Circuit ruled that players have the opportunity to proceed with their claims. Through discovery and a hearing, we can understand how collusion took place. We have notified the NFL of its obligations to preserve all relevant documents and communications.”

The news was first reported by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who said that the case is expected to proceed to the discovery process, which will force the NFL to disclose what it did or didn’t tell teams regarding cap spending.

In January of this year, a three-judge appeals court panel heard oral arguments and disagreed with Judge Doty’s ruling on of the two arguments for pursuing damages, despite the fact that the 2011 collective bargaining agreement was designed to settle these lawsuits. The appeals court sent the case back to Minneapolis, Doty’s jurisdiction for later proceedings, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The NFLPA alleges that owners conspired to hold down salaries in 2010 with a secret-salary cap of $123 million.

The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins both overspent and subsequently incurred cap penalties totaling $46 million, with the Redskins bearing the brunt at a loss of $36 million over two years. Both teams denied any wrongdoing.

The league has maintained confidence that it will prevail.

“As the Court emphasized, today’s decision is entirely procedural in nature,” the league said in a statement. “Far from validating the Union’s claim, the Court specifically highlighted the heavy burden that the NFLPA faces in establishing this claim, and we remain highly confident that the claim will be dismissed yet again.”