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BOB MOON: For pro football fans, excitement about the playoffs is mixed with anxiety about the very real chance there might be a lockout next season. Today, a court-appointed investigator hears a complaint from the league's players union. The players argue owners inked deals with TV networks for less money than they could've gotten. On purpose.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.

David Gura: Players and owners have been trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement since 2008. The contract runs out in just two months.

But if there's a lockout and games get canceled, owners will still get $4.5 billion from TV contracts they negotiated. The NFL Players Association calls it "lockout insurance" and says it's an unfair advantage.

Michael McCann: The players are concerned that owners are going to say, well, we're going to be paid anyway next year, we're not in a great hurry to negotiate, and if players don't want to go with what we want, then they're gonna have to be the ones to wait out.

Michael McCann directs the Sports Law Institute at Vermont Law School.

McCann: I think the harder question is whether or not that's actually illegal, and whether or not it contravenes the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement and any of its provisions.

Team owners want more games in a season, a pay ceiling for rookies, and a greater share of revenues. Both sides had hoped to reach an agreement before the Super Bowl. Michael McCann still holds out hope.

McCann: At the end of the day, it would seem that it's in both parties' interests to get a deal done and to continue playing football.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

Follow David Gura at @davidgura