Today we’ve witnessed the culmination of a twisted from of groupthink.
A year ago at this time you were drowning in legal lockout jargon. So while discussing the final decision in the combined $46 million in salary cap penalties given to the Cowboys and Redskins ($36 million to Washington, and $10 million to Dallas), we won’t tip that bucket too much further. You should be allowed to enjoy your May filled with pleasant sunshine viewable only through the cracks in your office window, and a calendar close by that shows how many days are left until the kids are out of school for two months.
In one sentence, here’s a review of the basics, complete with conveniently italicized words to indicate areas of particular absurdity that will be clarified below. During the uncapped year of 2010 prior to the lockout, the Cowboys and Redskins manipulated contracts to an extreme extent after the owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement.
The two teams were penalized for their actions. They filed a joint grievance, and the ruling was issued today by Special Master Stephen Burbank. In street parlance, Burbank said “go away,” but in the language of law it was a dismissal granted to the league primarily because the salary money taken from Dallas and Washington has already been reallocated to other teams as part of an amendment to the CBA.
Here’s the statement from the two teams. For a more realistic effect, read it while grinding your teeth:
“We pursued our salary cap claim pursuant to the CBA and we respect and will abide by the arbitrator’s decision to dismiss. We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.”
Now for the common sense, or at least the very little of it we can glean from this situation as an intelligent and neutral third party. If you own an NFL team or are in any way affiliated with the NFL, you can’t read on unbiasedly. I’m not sure why you’re reading anyway, because drinking smoothies made with $100 bills sounds far more pleasing.
The Cowboys and Redskins may have indeed exercised some salary cap creativity in 2010, but they did exactly what they were permitted to do in an uncapped year: treat it like an uncapped year. Every other owner agreed to still operate their teams as though a cap existed prior to the lockout, knowing that a CBA will eventually be in place and football would be played in 2011 after the owners attempted to fleece the players.
So there was a gentleman’s agreement of sorts. Or as those in the business of enforcing the laws of our white collar society call it, there was rampant collusion. Rules can’t be broken when on paper, there are no rules. Yet here we are with both Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder agreeing to put down their pen swords after a judge’s ruling.
But as former lawyer Mike Florio at PFT points out, they have other options:
Cowboys and Redskins could sue the NFL for violating internal rules and regulations and/or any applicable fiduciary duties that require the league to represent the interests of all teams equally and fairly. Burbank’s ruling seems to suggest that the Cowboys and Redskins tried to push such principles under the CBA, which means that they very well could choose to pursue such arguments in a full-blown lawsuit.
For now they’re playing nice and not pursuing further legal recourse. For now.