Q and A’s about Brady v. NFL (4/21/11)
What is the Brady lawsuit filed in Minnesota all about?
It is a class action lawsuit brought to stop the NFL and its member clubs from engaging in
certain actions which violate federal antitrust laws and state contract and tort laws. There are
10 named player-plaintiffs, nine of which played in the NFL in 2010 and one player who is
eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft. The most immediate goal of the lawsuit is to have the court stop
the lockout that the NFL imposed on March 12, 2011, which prohibits all competition for player
services through free agency, prohibits any payments of compensation due under existing
contracts, and prevents players from playing football. In addition, the suit challenges the
imposition by the NFL of any anticompetitive restrictions after the lockout is lifted, such as any
salary cap, rookie wage scale or unreasonable restrictions on free agency.
Who are the named player-plaintiffs involved in the Brady action?
The named plaintiffs are: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Vincent Jackson, Ben Leber, Logan Mankins,
Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Brian Robison, Osi Umenyiora, and Mike Vrabel.
Other than the named player-plaintiffs listed above, what players are part of this class
The class of players being represented in the Brady action are: (1) all players under contract
with an NFL club as of March 4, 2011 (“Under-Contract Subclass”); (2) all players who are not
under contract with an NFL club and are free agents seeking employment with an NFL club
(“Free Agent Subclass”); and, (3) all college and other players who are eligible to play in the NFL
as a rookie (“Rookie Subclass”).
Do players need to do anything to be included and represented in the Brady class?
No. All players—whether an NFL veteran or a rookie seeking his first NFL contract—will be
members of the Brady class. There is nothing they need to do now to become class members
or to join the case. If you or they have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to call
one of the Brady class counsel listed below.
What is the timetable for something to happen in this lawsuit?
With the filing of the lawsuit the player-plaintiffs asked the court to order the NFL to stop their
ongoing lockout of NFL players, since the imposition of the lockout is a group boycott in
violation of federal antitrust laws. On April 6, 2011, there was a preliminary injunction hearing
in United States District Court in Minnesota before Judge Susan Nelson. At that time, she heard
arguments on whether the lockout is illegal under the antitrust laws and, if so, whether the
court should stop or enjoin the lockout. The Judge will likely make her decision within the next
week. Either side will have a chance to appeal the District Court’s decision to the U.S. Court of
Appeals. If the District Court sides with the Brady Plaintiffs and orders the NFL to lift the
lockout, the NFL may ask the Court to stay or delay the decision to order the lockout lifted until
the Court of Appeals issues their decision. It will likely take until sometime in the early summer
for the Court of Appeals to issue its decision.
If the lockout is lifted and the NFL imposes restrictions on players’ ability to contract, including
any free agency system, salary cap or rookie pool, those restrictions will then be challenged in a
trial to determine the NFL’s liability under antitrust, contract and tort law claims, and the
damages resulting from such restrictions. Damages for antitrust violations are trebled (for
every dollar in damages proven the owners will owe the plaintiffs three dollars), so this poses a
serious threat to the NFL owners.
I understand that there is some type of mediation taking place with the parties, is that true?
Yes, Judge Nelson ordered the parties to the Brady action to engage in mediation sessions with
Magistrate Arthur Boylan in an effort to negotiate a settlement of the issues in the case and the
parties have participated in several settlement discussions over the past week. The mediation
has adjourned and is scheduled to resume on May 16.
I am under contract for 2011 and am due payments under my contract during the lockout but
my club has not paid me, does the Brady lawsuit make any claim for these payments on my
As these players will automatically be included as a member of the Under-Contract Subclass to
be certified in the Brady action, the lawsuit asks the court to order the clubs to pay damages as
a result of their breach of contract and tortious interference with your contract or, alternatively
asks the court to void the contract, at the option of each Under-Contract Subclass member.
My contract expired at the end of the 2010 season and I am currently unable to seek
employment in the NFL as clubs refuse to talk to me about a contract. What claims does the
Brady lawsuit make on by behalf?
As these players will automatically be included as a member of the Free Agent Subclass to be
certified in the Brady action, the lawsuit asks the court to find that the imposition of any
anticompetitive restrictions, including a salary cap, “Franchise Player” designation, “Transition
Player” designation, and any other restrictions on free agency are violations of federal antitrust
laws. If the NFL imposes these types of restrictions after they are ordered to lift the lockout,
the lawsuit asks the court to prevent the imposition of those restrictions and/or to award treble
damages resulting from their imposition.
I am rookie eligible for the 2011 NFL draft, what claims does the Brady lawsuit make on my
As rookies will automatically be included as a member of the Rookie Subclass to be certified in
the Brady action, the lawsuit asks the court to find that the NFL is prohibited from imposing an
“Entering Player Pool,” rookie wage scale, or similar restriction that limits the amount of
compensation that a club may pay a rookie player. Other anticompetitive restrictions on
rookies may also be challenged in the Brady case.
James W. Quinn Jeffrey L. Kessler
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
767 Fifth Avenue 1301 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10153 New York, NY 10019
(212) 310-8385 (212) 259-8050