In court filings relating to the contract dispute between the NFL and the professional football players, the players are arguing that the owners did not respect their responsibility to market the sport to the media in a manner that benefits both groups, in order to build up their contract dispute warchest – a fund players argue should be kept away from them.
According to the Associated Press, players say that various networks were granted special favors, and part of the payback was a television contract that pays the teams during the 2011 season, whether games are played or not.
Although money received by teams during a work-stoppage would have to be refunded, the $4B they are hoping to receive would see them through a period without cashflow, enabling them to better play hardball with the players.
The players’ latest filings say that the NFL left money on the table, which they called “forsaken revenues,” during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the value of which should be calculated and 57.5% of which should be given to the players.
Among the deals cited was one with DirecTV, rights in the digital and advertising areas granted CBS and Fox without charge, and rights to broadcast an extra game free of charge granted to NBC.
In the latter case, NFL was eventually ordered to pony up $6.9M for the game, a figure the players say is too low.
The argument underpinning all of these charges is that the league is expected to negotiate in the best interests of the players when selling broadcast rights to the NFL. Instead, it is being charged with setting the teams up to wage contract warfare with the players.
The ownership response is due 4/21/11.