Judge David Doty has agreed to hear arguments Sept. 6 regarding the NFL Players Association's claim that the league and its owners conspired in collusion to establish a "secret $123 million salary cap" in 2010, which under the previous labor agreement was designated as an uncapped year of spending.
The hearing will be held in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis under the supervision of Doty, who presided over the 1993 settlement of the Reggie White litigation case. That settlement led to an unprecedented stretch of labor peace that lasted through 2010, which was designated as an uncapped year in which teams would not be restricted in spending on player salaries.
The NFL has argued that the 2011 collective bargaining agreement settled and prohibited any further court claims.
The hearing is not necessarily an automatic victory for the union, but Doty could have declined to hear arguments or even passed the case off to another judge in his district.
The NFLPA claims it learned on or about March 12 that four teams -- the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints -- did not abide by the NFL's secret rules that effectively advised teams to operate in 2010 under a $123 million salary cap.
The NFL in March penalized the Redskins and Cowboys a combined $46 million in salary-cap spending over the next two years, a decision recently upheld by a Special Master ruling, citing the NFLPA's agreement to an arrangement that would redistribute the money to other teams for cap spending.