April 1, 2011 / 5:55 PM / 7 years ago

Players seeking damages from league over TV revenue

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NFL players are seeking millions of dollars in damages if the league loses a federal court case over $4 billion in television revenue.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) scores a fourth quarter touchdown past Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) and safety Nick Collins during the NFL's Super Bowl XLV football game in Arlington, Texas, February 6, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The players, in a filing with a U.S. District Court in Minnesota this week, say they should recover money the league “left on the table in 2009 and 2010” when the NFL negotiated new contracts with its television partners.

The amount was redacted but the word “million” remained.

Judge David Doty, who scheduled a hearing for May 12, ruled last month that the NFL failed to maximize revenue when it reached agreements on the television contracts.

He also said the NFL had breached its agreement with the players when it negotiated the television deals.

The players union argued the NFL designed the TV contracts to give league a $4 billion stockpile of cash to help it through any lockout.

Asked about the latest filing, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said on Friday: “It is part of the process in the case. Our response is due April 21.”

The players also are seeking to prevent the NFL from benefiting from the TV contracts during the league’s current lockout.

“There is no amount of damages that can remedy the harm flowing from the unlawful lockout provisions,” the players said.

Although another court will hold an April 6 hearing on a request for an injunction against the lockout, “independent relief” is needed from the lockout, the Thursday filing said.

Nine other NFL players, including top quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, are seeking an injunction against the lockout as part of a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and its owners.

The lawsuit was filed after labor talks between the NFL and players union broke down last month and the union, the NFL Players Association, decertified. NFL owners then locked out the players, putting the 2011 season in jeopardy.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue

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