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SBD/Issue 81/Leagues & Governing Bodies
NFL Vs. American Needle Lawsuit Could Impact Labor Relations
Published January 11, 2010
TAKING A STAND: Saints QB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Drew Brees in a special to the WASHINGTON POST wrote the American Needle case "could have a profound impact not only on my sport but on all of American professional athletics." The NFL after winning its original case with the apparel company "asked the Supreme Court to dramatically expand the ruling and determine that teams act as a single entity." Brees: "It was an odd request -- as if I asked an official to review an 80-yard pass of mine that had already been ruled a touchdown. The notion that the teams function as a single entity is absurd; the 32 organizations composing the NFL and the business people who run them compete with unrelenting intensity for players, coaches and, most of all, the loyalty of fans." If the Supreme Court again sides with the NFL, the "absence of antitrust scrutiny would enable the owners to exert total control over this multibillion-dollar business." Brees noted the owners then could "agree to end or severely restrict free agency, continue to enter into exclusive agreements that will further raise prices on merchandise, lock coaches into salary scales that don't reward them when they're promoted and set higher ticket prices." Brees added, "Historically, players have made significant gains, such as free agency, by challenging the NFL on antitrust grounds. If the Supreme Court rules that the league's 32 organizations constitute a single entity that is exempt from antitrust laws, players will lose this important leverage" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/10). In S.F., Gwen Knapp wrote fans "should applaud" Brees for the article. He had "nothing to gain personally from standing up to the league, and a lot of grief looming if the Saints miss the Super Bowl after he committed one of the great taboos in sports, making a political statement" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/10).
Brees' Op-Ed In The Washington Post Sparks
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