Just about a month ago, the NFL won a ruling allowing the owners to continue pocketing TV revenue — to the tune of about $4 billion — even if a lockout were to take place and stretch into the season. The ruling would have allowed the league to stay afloat and hold strong for an extended period of time without having to worry about a significant drop in revenue. The NFLPA tried to block the owners from collecting the money, but failed at the time.
On Tuesday, that all changed after David Doty reversed the original ruling, preventing the owners from collecting that $4 billion. Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter reported the news on Twitter, breaking down what it means for both sides.
BREAKING NEWS: Doty reverses special master Burbank. “Holds that the NFL breached the SSA as to those (TV) contracts.” CLARIFICATION: doty will have a hearing with the nfl and nflpa at an undetermined date to decide two things 1) what the damages are, or 2) if the money will be put in escrow. but as of today the league does not have access to it.
As Trotter says, the ruling levels the playing field for the NFLPA and gives the union significant leverage in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Previously, the league was able to proceed as planned, waiting as long as it took in hopes of breaking the union with an extended lockout. But without that TV revenue, the owners’ position is severely weakened, giving the NFLPA a leg-up at the bargaining table.
The owners can, and likely will, still appeal the ruling, keeping the fight in the courts. For now, though, the NFLPA scored a big win just ahead of Thursday’s deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides have reportedly resumed negotiations, working towards a last-second agreement. Even with talks open, it appears we’re still headed for a lockout this week, but it’s yet unclear how long it may last.
For the latest on the negotiations, check out the rest of our NFL lockout StoryStream.