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Collusion case still looms

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They (I don’t know who specifically, but “they”) say bad things happen in threes. For NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who in recent weeks has endured the embarrassment of the lockout of game officials and now the scuttling of all player discipline in the bounty case, there are two possibilities: (1) the Mayans were right; or (2) Judge David Doty will soon issue a ruling that allows the latest collusion case against NFL to proceed.

We’re hoping that, if it’s either, it’s No. 2.

Largely forgotten via 14 weeks of NFL action is the fact that, on the day after the Cowboys and Giants kicked off the 2012 regular season, lawyers gathered in Minnesota for arguments in connection with the NFLPA’s claim that the league used an illegal salary cap in the uncapped year of 2010. To date, there hasn’t been a ruling from Judge Doty; in theory, it could come at any time.

Though Doty wouldn’t be finding at this point that collusion occurred, his initial decision either will dismiss the claim as untimely or improper -- or it will conclude that the players have the right to proceed.

In our view (and in the view of plenty of league observers), if the players proceed, they’ll win.

The fact that the Cowboys and Redskins were penalized a total of $46 million in salary-cap space for violating the spirit of the salary cap in the uncapped year strongly suggests that the league wanted to hold down player spending in the final season before the lockout. Less money in the players’ pockets and more money in the owners’ coffers would have made it harder for the players to avoid crying “uncle” once the cash flow was cut off in 2011.

As we’ve previously opined, the case should be dismissed not on its lack of merit (since it definitely doesn’t lack merit) but because the players knew or should have known that collusion was occurring, and that they waived all potential collusion claims when signing the new labor deal in August 2011.

Still, if a third bad thing is going to happen for the Commissioner’s office, it very well could be a finding from a man with white hair that the Commissioner’s constituents have been naughty.