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NFL players union sues league over secret salary cap

The NFL Players Association filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the NFL and its owners had a "secret $123 million salary cap" in 2010.
Nfl dallas 2012 05 23Enlarge
Danny Coale #81 of the Dallas Cowboys works out during rookie mini camp on May 5, 2012, at the Valley Ranch Complex in Irving, Texas. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

The National Football League Players Association filed a federal lawsuit today alleging that the NFL and its owners had a "secret $123 million salary cap" in 2010, a year in which there was supposed to be no cap on players’ salaries, ESPN reported.

"Our union recently learned that there was a secret salary cap agreement in an uncapped year," NFL Players Association President Domonique Foxworth said, according to the Associated Press. "The complaint today is our effort to fulfill our duty to every NFL player. They deserve to know, above all, the facts and the truth about this conspiracy."

"When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act. We cannot stand by when we now know that the owners conspired to collude," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement, according to ESPN.

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Yesterday, an independent arbitrator upheld the NFL’s recent decision to strip the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys of a combined $46 million in salary cap space over the next two years, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The NFL said the teams are being punished for paying some players extra money in 2010 that would have been paid out over the length of their contracts to free up funds for seasons with salary caps.

However, the AP reported, players claim the real reason the teams were penalized was for exceeding the secret salary cap during 2010.

The collusion complaint was filed in US District Court in Minneapolis, ESPN reported. The union is seeking $4 billion in damages.

"The filing of these claims is prohibited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and separately by an agreement signed by the players' attorneys last August,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, according to ESPN. “The claims have absolutely no merit and we fully expect them to be dismissed."

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