|Locked out NFL players are seeking $707 million in damages over disputed broadcast revenue.|
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Locked-out NFL players asked a federal judge to have the league award them at least $707 million in damages for cutting TV deals that will pay owners $4 billion in broadcast revenue even if the 2011-2012 season's games are canceled. U.S. District Judge David Doty conducted a two-hour hearing on the case in Minneapolis on Thursday but isn't expected to rule on damages until next week.
On March 1, 10 days before the lockout began, Doty ruled that the NFL failed to maximize revenue for the players in violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement, in order to gain leverage in the labor fight, which he described as an "unconscionable advantage." Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for the players, argued that the NFL's contracts amounted to a lockout "war chest" due to stipulations in the TV contracts that would see the league get paid even if there are no games to televise in 2011. League attorney Gregg Levy said the players have no right to damages, and he accused them of "sandbagging and ambush." "It would in effect give the players some entitlement to that money which we don't believe they are entitled to," Levy said. Doty began the hearing by criticizing both sides for being unable to reach an agreement. "I'll be honest with you. I didn't think we would have to have this hearing, and I'm a bit disappointed we are having it," Doty said in his opening remarks. --Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @TheresaMcCabe. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.