We wrote here yesterday that the Redskins and Cowboys may be getting ready to fight the salary cap penalties imposed on them by the NFL in a big way. Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk is reporting that, according to a source, “the Redskins and Cowboys could be going ‘nuclear’ with the NFL as soon as Monday.”
As noted in the PFT article, the big question is whether Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones are bluffing in order to force the league to reverse the decision or if they actually intend to go to war with the other 30 league owners who are part competitors and part business partners.
If they do go to court, they would have to be encouraged by the fact that the NFL’s record in court lately has been abysmal. In the past two years they have lost the following big cases.
--Sports apparel maker America Needle sued the NFL for the right to get bids from individual teams to make logo apparel. In May of 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that the teams are 32 separate businesses. That was a win for American Needle; the NFL wanted the court to uphold a lower court ruling that the teams were a single entity.
--In March of 2011, Minnesota Judge David Doty ruled that the NFL violated the Collective Bargaining agreement by negotiating TV contracts that would pay the teams rights fees even if games were cancelled due to a lockout. The NFL faced billions in potential damages until the end of the lockout settled the case.
--Then in April, Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled that the NFL could not lock the players out in their labor dispute. The league was able to get an injunction that kept the lockout going until the sides settled in late July. That was their only legal victory of late.
Each case if different and the league’s difficulties in court lately do not mean that Snyder and Jones would automatically prevail if they took this to court. The point is that even though the league employs and retains a battalion of highly-paid lawyers, those wizards of smart don’t always get it right when they tell the league that its plans will stand up to legal scrutiny.