The NFL filed a motion on Friday asking federal judge Helen Berrigan to dismiss requests by the NFL Players Association and Jonathan Vilma for her to block suspensions levied by the league.
The league also put forth its opposition to Vilma’s request for a temporary restraining order and injunction for his season-long suspension.
The NFL says in its filing that by not participating in the appeals process, none of the players “exhausted the dispute resolution procedures available to them under the CBA.”
“That failure requires dismissal of their actions,” the NFL argues.
Friday’s combined filings consisted of more than 1,300 pages, including the CBA in both.
In the motion filed Friday, the league argues that under the Labor-Management Relations Act, the players aren’t allowed to dispute Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision because they agreed in the CBA that his judgments were final.
Included in the NFL’s argument is that the NFLPA has brought two grievances to CBA arbitrators challenging Goodell’s final authority, both of which they lost. The NFLPA has appealed one of those decisions.
“The NFLPA and Mr. Vilma also filed these actions, asking this court to set aside the arbitration award that followed their deliberate choice not to present any evidence in support of their appeal to the commissioner – their collectively-bargained exclusive avenue for relief.”
Additionally, the NFL argues that Goodell’s original statements didn’t show unfair bias towards the players for an appeal.
“As a general matter, arbitrators ‘often have interest and relationships that overlap with the matter they are considering.’ Here, of course, the commissioner’s obligations include ensuring and preserving not only the integrity of, but also ‘public confidence’ in the game of professional football a responsibility imposed on him by the parties in the CBA. The NFLPA knew about that obligation when it entered into the CBA.”
As in a motion filed late Thursday, the NFL Players Association and the NFL are asking to get an expedited hearing date to resolve the lawsuit by the players against the league.
The NFLPA said it will seek an injunction to block the suspensions so the players can start the season on Sept. 9 if a resolution hasn’t come before then.
The NFLPA has said it will file its opposition of the NFL’s request for a dismissal of the case on Aug. 1 with the league filing its counter the union’s opposition on Aug. 7.
Both sides agree, however, that the entire process needs to take place prior to the start of the regular season on Sept. 9, the date that the suspensions begin for the Fujita, Smith and Hargrove.
The NFL and NFLP jointly asked for Berrigan to hear the union’s request to block the suspensions on Aug. 10, 13 or 14.
A settlement conference has been set for Monday at 9:30 a.m. in front of Magistrate Judge Daniel E. Knowles III.
An expedited hearing on Vilma’s injunction and temporary restraining order will take place three days later on July 26.