NFL players' union expected to file collusion case against team owners

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 11:51 PM

The NFL Players Association is likely to file a collusion case against team owners in the coming days, sources said Sunday.

The case will accuse teams of conspiring to restrict players' salaries last offseason, the sources said. It is not clear how many teams will be named in the union's case, the number of players who will be cited as affected by the alleged collusion or the amount of damages sought.

The labor deal between the league and the union prohibits a team from entering "into any agreement, express or implied" with the NFL or another team "to restrict or limit" players' salaries or contract negotiations between a team and a player.

Specific details of the union's claim were not available Sunday. People familiar with research for the case have said in recent months that the union was looking into a lack of activity in the restricted free agent market last offseason.

The filing of the collusion case by the union would come with the league and union in the middle of protracted negotiations over an extension of their labor agreement, which expires in March. League and union officials declined to comment Sunday.

Asked in October about the possibility of the union filing a collusion case, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: "That's not my decision. Their litigation strategy is their litigation strategy. We're focused on trying to get a collective bargaining agreement and negotiating."

The case must be filed this week to meet a deadline under the sport's collective bargaining agreement. The labor deal says that a collusion case must be filed within 90 days "of the time when the player knows or reasonably should have known" that he has a claim, or within 90 days of the first game of the season, whichever is later. This season began Sept. 9.

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