You guys used to be great friends. Don't let a little bit of collusion ruin that.

It’s May, and when I’m not chillin’ at a desk and pretending to work while actually playing with the Pro Football Halftime Activity book, I’m usually wearing the fewest clothing items permissible while partaking in an activity that involves brown bottles filled with delicious alcoholic nectar. Our many friends down in the southern parts of the US of A may not know this feeling, but here in Canadia the summers are short, so we live hard.

The NFL and the NFLPA have developed a much different summer tradition. Suing each other, or just generally bickering using legal language you either can’t understand, or don’t care to understand. But never fear, apathetic reader, for this humble scribe will break down the latest lawsuit in the fewest words possible.


Yesterday the absurdity of the league’s cap penalties against the Cowboys and Redskins concluded with both teams accepting a decision through a generic statement. In short, it was determined that the two teams gained a distinct advantage by manipulating contracts and treating the 2010 uncapped year like, well, an uncapped year. Instead they should have based their conduct on a verbal and very unofficial gentleman’s agreement saying that the 2010 season would be treated like a capped year.

Men with suits and nice cars who enforce the laws of our society call that gentleman’s agreement collusion, and they’re not just doing that because they enjoy using cool legalese. They’re saying it because it is collusion. For those who haven’t conspired against someone before, collusion is the act of conspiring illegally.

For the players’ union and for the rest of us, the ruling against the Cowboys and Redskins and the owners’ actions during the uncapped year are bogus. That’s why they’ve filed a collusion claim.

The NFLPA is pissed that the owners secretly limited players’ salaries as they were gearing up for their attempted union busting during the lockout. Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter has the specifics of the union’s claim:

The Players Association is claiming the league violated terms of the Stipulation and Settlement Agreement that was the backbone of the previous CBA by “imposing a secret $123 million per club salary cap” for the uncapped season. It further alleges that 28 teams abided by the “secret salary cap,” and the four who didn’t were disciplined this offseason. The Redskins and Cowboys were stripped of cap space, and the Saints and Raiders were prevented from receiving the extra cap dollars that were taken from Washington and Dallas and redistributed to the rest of the league.

The claim also states that the owners’ collusion resulted in “actual damages” to the players, and the union is pursuing more than $3 billion.

It was filed in Minneapolis under judge David Doty, the same judge who reversed a decision that would have given the league $4 billion in television revenue during the lockout. While this claim is valid under the previous CBA, it isn’t under the current one. That’s why the owners are arguing that when they signed off on the new deal last August, the union waived their right to file a claim of this nature. So for Doty, this becomes a matter of which set of rules will be honored in this case.

For those who think it’s a little odd that the NFLPA signed off on the ruling against the Cowboys and Redskins yesterday before filing this claim (*points at self*), don’t worry, there’s a logical explanation for that. The union says that they didn’t find their collusion evidence until after they signed.

That’s about 600 words, and to be fair, many of them aren’t mine (thanks, Jim). Just know this: when you secretly limit an employee’s salary and the employee is protected under a union, said union is going to get very angry.