A federal judge Thursday refused to order the Washington Redskins to suspend up to 34 players from today’s final game of the season for failing to pay union dues.
The NFL players’ union had asked for the suspensions, claiming it would be harmed by the players’ refusal to pay $5,000 each.
But U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green, an admitted Redskin fan, ruled the injury to the public would be much greater.
“The Redskin-Minnesota Viking game is the only broadcast game to be scheduled for New Year’s Eve and will generate a huge amount of revenue for the NFL,” the judge wrote.
“Further,” she said, “the very playoff life of the Minnesota Vikings and the other teams competing with Minnesota for a playoff berth will be affected should various Redskins players be suspended from playing in (today’s) game.”
The Vikings (8-7) could clinch a playoff berth with a victory over the Redskins (4-11), eliminating Philadelphia and New Orleans.
Several Washington players said they would sit out the game and forfeit their final week’s paycheck rather than pay the dues.
Gene Upshaw, the union’s executive director, said he will take no further action regarding the game. However, he did not rule out a suit to enforce an arbitrator’s award earlier in the day in favor of the union.
The union had argued that if it cannot collect its dues now, it would lose the money owed by the one-third of the players who normally do not return to the sport.