The union's legal fees for Deflategate were in the millions, yes, millions
The NFLPA spent more than $3.5 million on legal fees for Deflategate according to a report
Deflategate is arguably the biggest waste of time in NFL history. It's certainly appears to be one of the biggest wastes of money, particularly for the union, which has spent a big pile of money on legal fees.
"After careful consideration and discussion with Tom Brady, the NFLPA will not be seeking a stay of the four game suspension with the 2nd Circuit. This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots season. We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court."
The union's decision to do so isn't about fighting against the NFL for the PSI in footballs. It's about trying to secure a ruling based on the arbitration ruling (and the complex legal factors that go into a union and management labor battle).
But the specific expenses are quite pricey for the union. From documents filed by the NFLPA with the federal government (via Munson):
For the preparation and presentation of evidence in the one-day arbitration hearing before Goodell, the union paid its lawyers $1,328,273, according to the listings in the report for April, May and July of 2015.
In its successful challenge to Goodell's ruling before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman, the union spent another $1,563,380 for two days of hearings.
The preparation and filing of briefs in response to the league's appeal of Berman's ruling resulted in $687,566 for the union.
So a one-day hearing cost the union over $1.3 million? That's either 2,600 hours at $500 an hour or 1,300 hours at $1,000 an hour. Or eight attorneys/legal personnel working 80 hours a piece for the week (or two) leading up to hearing at the cost of $2,031.25 an hour.
Maybe (probably) the proceedings required more than eight attorneys and/or paralegals. Whatever the case, that's a lot of money for a single arbitration hearing. Same goes for the two days of hearings in front of Berman (a win, however, so almost worth the money).
It's not cheap to fight a lawsuit and it's worth noting, again from Munson's article, the money isn't coming from the members' fees.
A union spokesman emphasized, however, in an interview with ESPN.com that the players' dues ($15,000 per year) are not used for legal fees. The fees are instead funded out of the union's enormous income from royalties paid to it for NFL paraphernalia under the collective bargaining agreement. Although it is not specifically stated in the public reports, an analysis of other revenue figures in the reports shows that the union's royalties in 2015 were more than $138 million. Dues paid by the players for the same year were $32,168,380. The union's budget for legal fees is approved by its board of player representatives at the group's annual budget adoption meeting, according to the spokesman. "It is one of our most in-depth sessions," he said.
The bottom line is it's just another example of what a farce Deflategate is that it could cost more than $3 million for a union to spend on legal fees in order to try and Free Brady.
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