For the NFL and owner Stan kroenke, the decisive moment has arrived in the The Los Angeles Rams moving process.
With a trial set to begin on January 10, the scent of courtroom war is in the air. Not only between the city of Saint Louis and the NFL, but maybe between Kroenke and his teammates. And this week looks a lot like the tipping point. If the NFL owners step down, it likely means they’ll write a really big check and agree to share in the pain of the financial uppercut that Kroenke seems destined to absorb.
But there is another possibility: that it all turns into a global battle with multiple fronts – and an outcome that would essentially guarantee a break-up of every franchise and the craziest wave of legal hay since Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry jones and the NFL went to war over sponsorship deals in 1995 and sued each other for a total amount of over $ 1 billion.
Yes, all of this could go wrong, to the point that Kroenke and the other league owners could face a staggering court judgment and end up suing themselves over who is ultimately responsible for the financial wreck.
Then again, everyone involved could also come to their senses and find a settlement – which is precisely what could happen in the coming days.
In short, Tuesday is expected to begin a mediation window between the NFL and a collective of plaintiffs, including the city of St. Louis, the county of St. Louis and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority. At stake is a 4-year-old lawsuit against the NFL, its owners and Kroenke for breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment and other allegations related to the Rams’ move to Los Angeles.
To date, the courts have widely opposed the NFL, holding a lawsuit in St. Louis that could ultimately deliver a massive judgment both against the league as a whole and against Kroenke and other owners involved in the process. approval of the decision. With that leverage in hand, the NFL and its lawyers will meet in one conference room this week, with the St. Louis plaintiffs in another conference room. Starting Tuesday, a mediator will pass between them and attempt to build a settlement that allows all parties to walk away and avoid a courtroom.
But for the NFL, there would be a big problem looming. Although other league owners believe they were compensated for legal fees and damages by Kroenke – which would effectively make him liable for paying the full amount of a judgment or settlement – several reports have suggested that the Rams owner wanted to share in the loss. And a Sports Business Journal report last week went further, citing an email sent by Kroenke’s legal camp to the rest of the league.
The message? If the NFL doesn’t agree to help Kroenke pay a settlement bill and make the whole lawsuit go away, he can part ways with the league and unilaterally settle his part of the dispute, leaving the rest of the NFL to go to court. judgement.
These are, as they say, fighting words. And it’s not often that you see an NFL owner essentially directing them to the rest of their league fraternity.
But actions matter more than threats in an email. And that is what we will be talking about this week. If the league decides to give in and help Kroenke carry the burden, the path to a settlement looks much more realistic. If Kroenke’s co-owners are reluctant to step in and do away with the lawsuit, then all mediation could collapse and everyone involved could be tried in less than two months.
All of this makes for a pretty important week. Because it’s not often that the league is pushed into a corner by a city. And it’s even rarer that this posture lets its billionaires raise their fists against each other.