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NFL downplays arbitration ruling


One of the topics about which the folks covering the Scouting Combine are buzzing comes from the recent arbitration that resulted in a finding that the league improperly diverted money from the pot that funds the salary cap into a stadium-renovation exception that simply doesn’t exist under the CBA. We’ll have plenty more to say about the situation; for now, here’s the league’s statement, originally issued to SportsBusiness Daily on Tuesday and provided to PFT on Wednesday.

“The CBA is a lengthy, complicated document and there are differences of interpretation from time to time,” the statement reads. “Those differences get resolved in our favor at least as often as they get resolved against us. In this case, the System Arbitrator recently resolved a technical accounting issue under the CBA involving the funding of stadium construction and renovation projects.”

The only problem is that this specific interpretation was made quickly and decisively, by the Arbitrator at the hearing during which the two sides presented their cases. It’s incredibly rare for any arbitrator or judge to issue a substantive ruling in a contested case at the hearing itself. Here, it shows that the NFL’s interpretation wasn’t just off the mark, but that it was so far off the mark that there was no reason for the arbitrator to even think it over.

“The effect of the decision is principally one of timing; it will increase the number of seasons over which the League’s investments in stadium projects will be recouped from local stadium revenues,” the league also said in its statement. “The decision should have no effect on the League’s long-standing commitment to stadium improvements; that commitment was most recently reflected in the League’s decision to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support for the Rams’ new stadium in Los Angeles as well as financial support for new stadiums in Oakland and San Diego.”

It may have no impact on the league’s commitment to stadium renovation or construction, but as will be demonstrated in the contents of NFLPA president Eric Winston’s interview from Wednesday’s PFT Live (to be posted soon), it has had a major impact on the trust, or lack thereof, between the league and the union.

It also has impacted, as will be demonstrated in a later post tonight, the level of faith that multiple owners currently have in the league office.