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Published by: cstoxen4959 on Mar 02, 2011
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF MINNESOTACivil No. 4-92-906(DSD)Reggie White, MichaelBuck, Hardy Nickerson,Vann McElroy and DaveDuerson,Plaintiffs,v.
National Football League;The Five Smiths, Inc.;Buffalo Bills, Inc.;Chicago Bears Football Club,Inc.; Cincinnati Bengals, Inc.;Cleveland Browns, Inc.; TheDallas Cowboys Football Club,Ltd.; PDB Sports, Ltd.; TheDetroit Lions, Inc.; The GreenBay Packers, Inc.; Houston Oilers,Inc.; Indianapolis Colts, Inc.;Kansas City Chiefs Football Club,Inc.; The Los Angeles Raiders, Ltd.;Los Angeles Rams Football Company,Inc.; Miami Dolphins, Ltd.;Minnesota Vikings Football Club,Inc.; KMS Patriots Limited Partnership;The New Orleans Saints Limited Partnership;New York Football Giants, Inc.; New YorkJets Football Club, Inc.; The PhiladelphiaEagles Football Club, Inc.; B & B Holdings,Inc.; Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc.;The Chargers Football Company; The SanFrancisco Forty-Niners, Ltd.; TheSeattle Seahawks, Inc.; Tampa Bay AreaNFL Football Club, Inc.; and Pro-Football,Inc.;Defendants.Mark Jacobson, Esq., Anthony N. Kirwin, Esq. andLindquist & Vennum, 4200 IDS Center, Minneapolis,Minnesota 55402; David G. Fehr, Esq., Jeffrey L. Kessler,Esq., David L. Greenspan, Esq., Eva W. Cole, Esq. andDewey & LeBoeuf LLP, 1301 Avenue of the Americas, NewYork, NY 10019; James W. Quinn, Esq. and Weil, Gotshal &
Manges, 767 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10153;Heather McPhee, NFL Players Association, 1133 20  Street
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036; Timothy R. Thornton, Esq.,and Briggs & Morgan, 80 South Eighth Street, Suite 2200,Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel for plaintiffs.Daniel J. Connolly, Esq. and Faegre & Benson, Suite 2200,90 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402;Gregg H. Levy, Esq., and Covington & Burling, 1201Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., P.O. Box 7566, Washington, D.C.20044 and Shepard Goldfein, Esq. and Skadden, Arps,Slate, Meagher & Flom, Four Times Square, New York, NY10036, counsel for defendants.This matter is before the court upon the objection in part byClass Counsel and the National Football League Players’ Association(collectively, Players or NFLPA) to the February 1, 2011, opinionof Special Master Stephen B. Burbank.  Based on a review of thefile, record and proceedings before the court, and for the reasonsstated, the court adopts in part and overrules in part therecommendation of the special master.
This appeal arises out of a proceeding commenced by thePlayers pursuant to Article XXII of the White Stipulation andSettlement Agreement (SSA).   See ECF No. 524.  The Players allege
that the National Football League, its member clubs and theNational Football League Management Council (collectively, NFL)The parties amended the SSA in 1993, 1996, 2002 and 2006.
violated the SSA by ignoring the obligation to act in good faithand use best efforts to maximize total revenues for both the NFLand the Players for each SSA playing season.  In this appeal, thecourt must, in considering the special master’s opinion, determine(1) what the SSA requires of the parties; and (2) whether the NFLviolated the SSA when it extended and renegotiated broadcastcontracts with DirecTV, CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN (collectively,broadcasters).
I. Historical Context
On September 10, 1992, following a ten-week trial, a juryfound the NFL in violation § 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15U.S.C. § 1.  See McNeil v. Nat’l Football League (Plan B FreeAgency), No. 4-90-476, 1992 WL 315292, at *1 (D. Minn. Sept. 10,1992).  Following the verdict, individual players sought injunctiverelief to become free agents for the 1992 season.  See Jackson v.Nat’l Football League, 802 F. Supp. 226, 228 (D. Minn. 1992).Based on the McNeil verdict, the court temporarily enjoinedenforcement of Plan B.  Id. at 235.  Less than two weeks after theMcNeil verdict, players Reggie White, Michael Buck, HardyNickerson, Vann McElroy and Dave Duerson brought an antitrust classaction seeking injunctive relief in the form of total or modifiedfree agency.  See White v. Nat’l Football League, 822 F. Supp. 1389(D. Minn. 1993).  The parties decided to settle their financial andlabor disputes, and a mandatory settlement class was certified for3

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