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Antitrust lawsuit alleges that NFL has waived “sham” defense to decertification


While trudging through the 52-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by a group of players including three quarterbacks who have won five Super Bowls among them, I had to press pause at page 19 and share with PFT Planet language that, if accurate, prevents the NFL from arguing that the decertification of the union was a “sham.”

If the NFL were to prove that the decertification was a “sham,” the league would be able to lock the players out, since the antitrust laws would not apply.

Paragraph 45 of the civil complaint explains that, when settling the Reggie White antitrust lawsuit in 1993, the league “insisted on the right to terminate the [agreement] if the players did not reform a union within thirty days.” To get that provision, the NFL agrees that, “if a majority of players decided to end their collective bargaining representation upon or after the [agreement’s] expiration,” the NFL would waive the right to argue, among other things, that the decertification was “a sham or otherwise ineffective.”

In other words, if the players’ allegations are accurate, the NFL can’t use the “sham” silver bullet to block decertification. And that makes the players’ lawsuit a lot stronger, increasing the likelihood that a lockout will be blocked and we’ll have football in 2011.