Union Says Losing Home Courtroom Advantage No Biggie

No David Doty? No problem, the NFL Players Association insisted Monday.

Shortly after finding out that Doty, who has ruled time and time again in their favor in disputes with the league over the better part of the last 2 decades, apparently won’t be the presiding judge in its upcoming antitrust suit against the league, the union, or trade association, depending on whether its decertification filing last week is upheld, said it expects to prevail in court with or without Doty.

``To us, that’s not an issue,’’ Saints quarterback Drew Breese, who is one of the named plaintiffs in the players’ suit, said during a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon that also included NFLPA president Kevin Mawae and assistant executive director George Atallah. ``That (the likelihood that Doty would be the presiding judge) was something that the owners seemed to be very concerned about and focused on. For us, it’s about the facts and it’s about the law. And we believe those are on our side. We’re not concerned about that.’’

The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson, rather than Doty. Unless she recuses herself, which seems unlikely, she will be the presiding judge. A hearing for a motion by the players to block the lockout that was imposed by the owners after the collective bargaining agreement expired Friday,is scheduled for April 6.

While Brees may claim it’s not big deal that Doty won’t be handling the case, many legal experts feel it’s a very big deal.

``This has to be a big disappointment for the NFLPA and the player plaintiffs,’’ said Gary Roberts, dean of Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis. ``Judge Doty was totally on (the players’) swide on every issue and would likely have ruled for them on all important matters going forward. How Judge Nelson will view things and rule on all these issues remains to be seen.’’

Brees, Mawae and Atallah spent most of the 45-minute conference call trying to debunk what they called ``misinformation’’ about the collapse of negotiations last Friday between the league and the players.

``We’re here to tell you what really happened (Friday in the negotiations),’’ Atallah said. ``We’re not going to allow the league to let 36 hours of a media PR blitz erase what has been planned and prepared for almost 3 years now.’’

First, some of Brees’ comments:

``The owners’ last proposal, they were trying to get back $1.66 billion over 4 years. I know there were comments by them that that was a good deal. The only side it was a good deal for was them, in addition to trying to take away our future workmen’s comp benefits.

``They asked for $1.66 billion back without giving us any financial proof. They refused every request we made for comprehensive financial data.

``Obviously it was an unreasonable proposal. Their intention has been to lock us out for the last 2 years. If you look at every one of their moves over the last 2 years, from opting out (of the collective bargaining agreement) in 2008 to the way they negotiated the TV deals so they would have money in their pocket as a lockout fund, everything they’ve done has been a strategy for a lockout.

``Coming to us Friday a couple of hours before the deadline with an unrealistic and unreasonable proposal was basically so they could go to the media right after it got turned down and say, hey, we offered a fair deal and they walked away.

``For us, we’re not about the mudslinging. We’re about getting the facts out there to the media, to the fans, so people know exactly what’s happening and understand our main goal is to work towards a fair deal.

Mawae: ``They’ve been putting things out there that have been complete falsehoods and complete lies. It’s frustrating to have sat in that room and know that a paid attorney is lying, not just to us, but the entire public and fans of NFL about what happened over last 14 days.

``I’m gonna tell everybody right now who’s on this call. Eighteen games is not going to happen. We cannot justify it for the safety and health of our players. 18 games was taken off the table the first time the owners proposed it and it wasn’t part of the proposal last time we gave it to them, and it never will be.