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SBD/10/Leagues Governing Bodies
NFL SIGNS WITH NIKE; DOESN'T DETER JONES FROM COUNTERSUIT
Published October 10, 1995
The NFL has signed Nike to a five-year licensing deal estimated at $200M, only one month after the league took aim at Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' signing of Nike as sponsor of Texas Stadium. According to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES, the NFL has been trying to make a deal with Nike "for several months," but was "derailed" by Jones. Sandomir reports, "Although NFL Properties got Nike back to the negotiating table, its deal with Nike might have been larger if not for Jones." Nike now becomes an NFL Pro Line licensee allowing them to supply uniforms and apparel for coaches and sideline personnel, as well as to sell Pro Line apparel in retail outlets. Nike will also buy air time on NFL network broadcasts and work with the league on developing youth programs. NFL Properties President Sara Levinson said the Nike deal does not change their legal position and that their $300M lawsuit against Jones over his Nike and Pepsi deals will continue (N.Y. TIMES, 10/9). On NBC's pregame show, Will McDonough reported that the NFL-Nike deal could have been announced three months ago and for more money, "but Jerry screwed it up" ("NFL on NBC," 10/8). An NFL release refers to the Nike agreement as "the largest deal in the history of team sports licensing" (NFL). TIRED OF TALKING: In his Sunday BOSTON GLOBE column, McDonough reports that Jones will file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. Jones: "I've had my fill of talking and getting nothing resolved." Jones said after making his arguments before the NFL owners' special committee, "they know now, and acknowledge, that I did not break any rules." Jones added -- with the Jaguars' Wayne Weaver in mind -- "I hope that some of the owners who took this action against me weren't doing the same things that I have done. Wayne was one of the guys that voted to sue. He may be more guilty of [violating NFL Properties agreements] than anything I have ever done. He might have a hard time trying to explain his actions in court. Our suit will get to the core of the issue. It will be antitrust" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/9). WARRING PARTNERS: Jones joins Raiders Owner Al Davis with a lawsuit pending against the league. 49ers President Carmen Policy: "Let's get on with it. Let's get to court once and for all and find out what the deal is. These guys only care about themselves." Bills Owner Ralph Wilson: "These owners are going to tear our league apart. We get a great labor agreement. We get a great television deal. Everything should be great, and our own partners are suing us. Well, before they know it, these $200 million franchises will be worth $50 million in a hurry because of their actions" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/9). Patriots CEO Bob Kraft, interviewed during halftime of TNT's coverage of the Patriots/Broncos: "Jerry is one of the smartest marketing and sales people I know, but sometimes his style can be something that is abrasive to other people. But his ideas are great. This is 1995, the year of the internet, we're coming into the millennium, and I think we have to look at different ways of marketing our product." Kraft on a possible Jones countersuit: "I really hope that we can settle this in the family -- and I believe that we will do that. ... We have the best sports/entertainment product in America, TNT knows that, and we have to make sure we don't do anything to damage that" ("NFL on TNT," 10/8). AMEX DEAL: As expected, Jones announced another deal outside of NFL Properties, making AmEx "the official charge and credit card" of Texas Stadium and the only card accepted for Cowboys season-ticket purchases (Greg Clarkin, N.Y. POST, 10/7). Visa is the official credit card of the NFL.