Things did not go well for the NFL on Monday in a St. Louis courtroom. Specifically, things didn’t go well for the Commissioner and several owners; the presiding judge has found enough potentially fraudulent behavior to justify probing their financial records for the purposes of eventually assessing punitive damages.
As one source with thorough knowledge of the dynamics of the league and its ownership suggested on Monday night, the ruling quite possibly will lead to a settlement of the case.
It makes sense. Commissioner Roger Goodell, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Giants owner John Mara, and former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson (not that his vote matters anymore) won’t want to let anyone probe their financial records. Still reeling from the indignity of having power wielded against the immensely powerful, one or more of them will inevitably issue a simple mandate to the league office: “Make this go away.”
Yesterday’s ruling surely increased the price. But that’s the risk that’s assumed when not settling a case before a bad ruling arrives.
The other owners have reason to rattle the cage for a settlement; they ultimately may have their books probed, too. The judge will consider further arguments and evidence that the financial records of all owners should be fair game.
So now’s the time to convene an emergency Zoom call for the purposes of passing the hat. Especially since the hat will be passed directly to Kroenke, and it will stay there. Hell, he and COO Kevin Demoff quite possibly budgeted for the litigation costs when running all the numbers and realizing it made more sense to move to L.A. than stay in St. Louis. Whatever the price (likely, somewhere between $100 million and a billion), it’s time for Kroenke — who paid his fellow owners $645 million just for the privilege to move to L.A. — to crack out the check book and make this go away.
Don’t be surprised if he does.