NFLPA sues NFL over 2010 salaries


Just a day after an arbitrator dismissed a complaint by the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins that the NFL had wrongfully imposed salary cap restrictions in 2012-13, the NFL Players Association has filed suit against the NFL and charge the league with collusion for keeping salaries low in the 2010 season. 

The suit alleges the league conspired to establish what it called a “secret $123 million” salary cap in 2010. Under terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement, that season did not have a salary cap. 

“When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act. We cannot standby when we now know that the owners conspired to collude,” DeMaurice Smith, the  NFLPA Executive Director, said in a statement.

“Our union recently learned that there was a secret salary cap agreement in an uncapped year,” NFLPA President Dominique Foxworth said. “The complaint is our effort to fulfill our duty to every NFL player. They deserve to know, above all, the facts and the truth about this conspiracy.”

The complaint cites comments from Giants president and co-owner John Mara during owners meetings in early March as evidence of teams using a salary cap. In comments about the Redskins and Cowboys’ actions in allegedly dumping millions in contracts from unproductive players, Mara said of the teams: “What they did was in violation of the spirit of the salary cap. They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole … full well knowing there would be consequences.” 

The Redskins had $36 million in salary cap space taken away in 2012-13, while the Cowboys had $10 million removed. An arbitrator on Tuesday granted the NFL’s motion to dismiss the grievance filed by the teams. 

The NFL contends the NFLPA cannot sue the league under terms of the new CBA, which runs through the 2021 season.

“The filing of these claims is prohibited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and separately by an agreement signed by the players' attorneys last August,” Aiello said. “The claims have absolutely no merit and we fully expect them to be dismissed. On multiple occasions, the players and their representatives specifically dismissed all claims, known or unknown, whether pending or not, regarding alleged violations of the 2006 CBA and the related settlement agreement. We continue to look forward to focusing on the future of the game rather than grievances of a prior era that have already been resolved.”

NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler said the suit seeks only to address lost salary wages from the 2010 season. Kessler said the union did not work with the Redskins and Cowboys in formulating the suit.

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