The NFL Players Association has been advised that federal authorities are preparing to interview employees in an investigation into whether former union leaders attempted to collude with the NFL, a person familiar with an e-mail sent to union staff has told The Associated Press.
The e-mail, sent by the union on Friday, also states the NFLPA has been advised that it "may have been the victim of violations of federal laws," the person said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is considered extremely sensitive.
It's unclear who will be interviewed or when, but it's likely they could begin as early as the weekend given the timing of when the e-mail was sent out, the person said.
The Sports Business Journal first reported the contents of the e-mail in a story posted on its website Friday.
The interviews would be the latest step in a Department of Labor probe launched last year, and first revealed in a lawsuit filed by NFLPA employee Mary Moran in August. Moran is suing the union, claiming she was wrongfully removed from her job as director of human resources.
In court documents, Moran said she provided investigators evidence that former NFLPA president Troy Vincent and other union members met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, allegedly to provide the league access to confidential union information.
She also alleged that NFLPA executive committee member Mark Bruener and Texans player representative Kris Brown also attended the meetings, which she claims were not authorized by or reported to the union. She alleged the meetings were a bid by union members to gain influence with the NFL while providing "owners a toehold in the NFLPA."
Vincent, who was named the NFL Vice President of Player Development in February, has declined comment.
The NFL has previously dismissed the allegations, noting that it's common for Goodell to meet with players and union executives, including Vincent.
In the e-mail on Friday, the NFLPA advised staff of their options should they be contacted by federal authorities. Staff members can choose to be interviewed on their own or request to have an attorney present.
The NFLPA is considered a potential victim, and has been cooperating with federal authorities. The meetings are alleged to have occurred before current union chief DeMaurice Smith took over as executive director in March 2009.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press