One of the reasons the NFL owners are so keen to lock the players out should the union not bend to their will is because they have a contract with the television networks that air NFL games must continue to pay the league even in the case of a work stoppage. The players union thinks that this provision was put in the TV contracts specifically so the league could lock the players out without facing major financial consequences, giving the owners unfair leverage.
Well it appears the justice system agrees.
Judge David Doty has ruled that the NFL violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the deal it stuck with the television networks. Doty ruled that there would be another hearing to determine whether the players union will be awarded financial damages or an injunction preventing the league from collecting TV revenue during a lockout.
The league will try to do everything they can to pretend the ruling isn’t that big of a deal but it most certainly is. If it is ruled that the owners can’t get their TV money during a lockout then the NFL has lost all it’s leverage against the union. Prior to this ruling, the owners planned to lock the players, if necessary, until the fall. The thinking here was that once the players started missing game checks that they would cave to the league’s demands.
That could all be out the window now. Just two days before the expiration of the CBA, the plot has most certainly thickened.