It ain't over 'til it's over.
Judge David Doty has announced that he is going to hear arguments in the collusion lawsuit brought against the NFL by the NFLPA. This is, of course, a subject of great interest to Dallas Cowboys fans, since the Cowboys, along with the Washington Redskins, were penalized for not participating in what the NFLPA (and most thinking observers) characterize as illegal collusion by the NFL.
The hearing will be September 6h, which is slightly ironic. It is the day after the Dallas Cowboys open the NFL season by going to New Jersey to play the New York Giants, who are owned by John Mara. Mara, as you may recall, stated that the Cowboys and the Redskins "got off lucky" with the $10 million and $36 million penalties, respectively, imposed on the teams. He felt that draft picks should have been taken away for the unforgivable and heinous act of treating an uncapped year as if it was an uncapped year.
While the hearing clearly comes a bit too late to affect much this season, it will be interesting to see if Judge Doty finds some need for the NFL to provide some redress to the players. This would be as a result of money they did not get because of the actions of the teams that did join in abiding by the "secret cap" of $123 million. I do have a hard time understanding just how the NFLPA projects that out to a $1 billion loss to the players, but it is possible that there will be some kind of financial penalty levied against the league. Unfortunately, this is not likely to provide any restoration of the salary cap money already lost by the Cowboys and Redskins. It is hard to say how Doty might try to address the penalties, since any money he directs the owners to pay the players could be done without any action being taken regarding the cap penalty at all.
However, he might also direct that the money be restored to Dallas and Washington. It is hardly likely, but there is a remote chance that he could attempt to actually administer justice in the case.
There is, of course, no guarantee that Doty will find for the NFLPA, but his history is one of sympathy to the players. If this does go against the league, it will almost certainly be in large part due to John Mara's unequivocal description of how two teams were punished for not colluding. And this could be a huge problem for everyone, since judges sometimes get a bit out of control. I don't know the extent of what Doty can do here, but if he does find that the owners owe a large amount to the players, Dallas is going to have to pay along with the other teams. I hope this will somehow wind up getting some of the salary cap penalty restored to the Cowboys, but I don't feel terribly optimistic.
However, if Doty does rule that the "secret" salary cap was indeed illegal, then at least the Cowboys will be vindicated for bucking the league.