The NFL has asked the federal judge who ruled in favor of the NFL Players’ Association on a TV revenue dispute to deny the union’s request to release information from the case that the league wants kept confidential.
The league filed its response yesterday, including redacted versions of exhibits cited in David Doty’s decision totaling more than 800 pages. Much of the information was blacked out to protect information the NFL considers commercially sensitive, harmful to future negotiations if revealed and damaging to business relations.
“Unsealing these documents would reveal to entities with whom we have, may have, or seek to have commercial relationships our internal thought processes relating to television programming and digital rights,’’ Brian Rolapp, chief operating officer for NFL Media, wrote in his declaration of support filed with the league’s request.
Two weeks ago, Doty ruled — rejecting a special master’s previous decision — that the NFL illegally secured $4 billion from TV contracts for 2011, money the players contend was arranged to fund a lockout.
A week ago, the union requested that all exhibits, testimony and transcripts be unsealed.
League lawyers, however, argue that the court’s previous denial of a local newspaper’s request to unseal all the documents should apply to the union’s request as well to satisfy the public’s right to know and to provide context that “will be the basis for rulings to come.’’
The NFL’s argument cited Doty’s suggestion in court to Paul Hannah, an attorney representing the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Star Tribune of Minneapolis in the Feb. 24 hearing, that the papers “try to focus on what it is that they are looking for’’ rather than making a sweeping request for all the information.
The NFL wrote that the complication of mentioning “a few lines or even a few pages’’ in court about the confidential material “is not a ground to unseal the entire exhibit.’’ The league also cited the volume of the evidence — some 12,000 pages — as another reason not to order an across-the-board unsealing.
Included in the redacted exhibits is testimony from commissioner Roger Goodell, arguing the NFL had the best interests of the league and the players in mind during the last round of negotiations to ensure healthy levels of revenue in the long term.
The union, however, contends that the contracts were devised to create a lockout war chest. In response, Goodell testified: “We had no such intent. We entered into these arrangements principally to extend and secure revenue streams that, in my view, were and continue to be necessary for the stability and financial health of the League.’’
Goodell also argued that the contract extensions were necessary to keep the league out of danger of going into debt, which he said would be “enormous leverage’’ for the players in collective bargaining.
Moss: Heart in N.E. For a player who pretty much talked his way out of New England, Randy Moss sure does like to talk about how much he enjoyed playing with the Patriots.
The enigmatic receiver, who bounced from Minnesota to Tennessee last season following the stunning Oct. 6 trade that sent him from the Patriots to the Vikings, told a Minnesota radio station he’d love to play in New England again.
“If you’re asking me where my heart and where I’m happy is, I love playing with Tom Brady. I love being coached by Bill Belichick,’’ Moss said.
Moss, 34, will be a free agent once the lockout ends. He had 28 receptions for 393 yards and five touchdowns in 2010.
Chad Finn of the Globe staff contributed to this report.