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American Needle decision spawns troubling rhetoric from the union

The NFLPA was worried that a victory by the NFL in the American Needle case would allow the league to undercut any attempt by the union to eventually decertify (like it did after the 1987 strike) and sue the owners for violating antitrust laws via the imposition of rules regarding free agency and the draft.  Instead, the NFL lost the American Needle case — and the ruling is prompting the union to twist the outcome into something much more than it really is.

“Today, the United States Supreme Court again made clear that the NFL is
not exempt from the anti-trust laws that all other American businesses
must follow,” the union declares in a press release.  “In reversing the appellate court’s prior ruling, the Court
found that the 32 NFL teams do not act as a ‘single entity’ such that
they are completely exempt from Section 1 of the Sherman Act.  In other
words, the NFL — despite its best efforts — is not above the law.
Specifically, in a 9-0 decision, the Court held that NFL teams do not
possess the ‘complete unity of interest’ necessary for an exemption.
Instead, each team is a separately-owned business entity competing
vigorously against the others, both on and off the field.”

Though that first paragraph contains plenty of feisty language, it’s not grossly erroneous.  That said, the final sentence completely overlooks the closing pages of the Supreme Court decision, which expressly acknowledges that some agreements among the teams may be justified.

But then the union really comes unglued.

“Although the case arose from an apparel license, the case and today’s
decision have a broad impact on the business of the NFL as a whole,” the release states.  “Had
the Court allowed the NFL to evade the anti-trust laws, ticket prices
would have increased, free agency would have ended or been crippled, the
way we watch football on television would have been fundamentally
altered and our states and local governments would have been held
hostage by a league with a Court-issued license to run wild.”

Um, really?  Ticket prices would have increased?  How?  Why?

And how in the world would the television viewing experience have changed?  Federal law already provides an antitrust exemption for broadcasting contracts.

As to the notion that state and local governments would have been held hostage, we don’t understand that one enough to even begin to frame a coherent criticism of it.

Then the union really pushes things into overdrive.

“The case
was originally brought by American Needle, a manufacturer of NFL-branded
hats,” the union states.  “In 2000, the NFL and team owners decided they could make more
money by selling an exclusive license to one company.  Reebok purchased
that right, prompting American Needle’s suit claiming that the teams of
the NFL colluded to limit competition in violation of the anti-trust
laws.”

What the union ignores is that the effort to “make more money” necessarily “makes more money” for the players, since the players get 59.6 cents on the dollar.  So, basically, the union is celebrating the fact that the NFL has been thwarted in its efforts to “make more more,” both for the NFL . . . AND FOR THE PLAYERS.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah pointed out on Twitter that today’s ruling “doesn’t mean we can pop champagne just yet” and that the proper sentiment is relief.  Meanwhile, the press release issued by his organization looks to be a spraying champagne all over the NFL — and necessarily all over itself.

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25 Responses to “American Needle decision spawns troubling rhetoric from the union”
  1. Chapnasty2 says: May 24, 2010 7:36 PM

    De Smith is a complete idiot and this union has gone in complete freefall since he took over. We can only hope that this clown is removed before he can destroy the NFL.

  2. ahajha says: May 24, 2010 7:37 PM

    Yes!!! Soon Under Armour will supply the Ravens! And MacGregor will supply the Browns, Lions, and the Raiders.

  3. footballhistorian says: May 24, 2010 7:49 PM

    De Smith is a typical union leader/fool. No understanding whatsoever about supply/demand; profit/loss. Union (leadership) dopes exist solely to confront the organizations for which they “work”. I’d like to work for a company which paid me 25% of what the NFL does. He’s nothing more than a political hack who thinks his benefit only comes from the loss of others.

  4. Uncle Leo says: May 24, 2010 7:50 PM

    If a tree falls in the forest………..
    If De Smith or the NFLPA say anything, does anybody really believe it, or does it really affect anything?
    Similar to Deb commenting on the NCAA.

  5. CanadianVikingFan says: May 24, 2010 7:50 PM

    The NFL is turning into a large Brett Favre sized dump.

  6. HarrisonHits says: May 24, 2010 7:59 PM

    Geeze Smith lives in a fantasyland. At this rate there won’t be football for multiple years unless the union gets rid of this bonehead.

  7. ChargerDillon says: May 24, 2010 8:06 PM

    This is great for teams like the Raiders, Lions, and Rams because nobody wants to buy their crap anyways.
    It’ll make the supply and demand high for the players/teams that are actually successful
    Thus giving players on specific teams more incentive to play hard to make their jerseys/logos worth more not only to the team but themselves as they perform well
    For the first time in a long time somebody told the NFL they arn’t the boss

  8. The Wishbone says: May 24, 2010 8:09 PM

    OMHFG, D Smith is full of rhetoric?!
    You’re giving him exactly what he wants: attention.

  9. shadowflames43 says: May 24, 2010 8:11 PM

    Was wondering what the decision largely meant for Madden’s exclusivity.

  10. downwithdansnyder says: May 24, 2010 8:20 PM

    Just like most unions they are idiots. I’ve posted before about how unions had their place, but have ruined almost every industry they have taken over. They also took down the Greenbrier resort. The #1 resort in the U.S. Unions are poison in today’s 24 hr news cycle. Any injustices are brought to light instantly thanks to utube and online news outlets.
    History speaks for itself.

  11. BigSuede says: May 24, 2010 8:22 PM

    So does this mean that the NFL cannot give exclusive rights to Madden any longer? That might be the biggest win over this decision- more competition for football video games would make EVERYONE happier!

  12. 23 says: May 24, 2010 8:24 PM

    An article right in your wheelhouse, Florio. Legal mumbojumbo turned as coherent as you possibly can.
    The funny thing is, if you didn’t report on it, I don’t know where I would have read this story, it’s effect or the NFLPA’s response. Yes, I could have lived my entire life without knowing any of it but it’s interesting to see that the NFLPA thinks we, the fans, care. For once the NFL made more money, for essentially doing what every company in the world does, by consolidating their services to fewer service providers in order to extort …. I mean, negotiate …. a better return. And for once it didn’t come directly out of the fan’s wallets. I’m on board with that, bitches !
    “and if you ever use the word ‘extortion’ again … I’ll have your legs broken” – Mayor Carmine DePasto, Animal House

  13. Playmaker's Dealer says: May 24, 2010 8:26 PM

    Like most union rhetoric, it’s uniformed, misguided, unnecessarily threatening, and flat wrong.
    What a joke.

  14. theravenlives2 says: May 24, 2010 8:26 PM

    Its rulings like this that will eventually make football just like Major League Baseball – a joke controlled by about five teams. Again, the rich (the union) get richer, and the rest of us (the fans) lose.

  15. El Perro says: May 24, 2010 8:30 PM

    Damn you De Smith!! This dumb-ass hasn’t done shit! Get him out of there before there is no football in 2011. Oh wait…..

  16. prophet of the light says: May 24, 2010 8:51 PM

    Maybe the Rams can get K-Mart to supply their equipment.

  17. jamaltimore says: May 24, 2010 8:52 PM

    Imagine unions spewing garbage! Keep arguing to pay guys who never played an NFL down 50 million up front!

  18. pancho smith says: May 24, 2010 8:55 PM

    Congrats, Florio, for pointing out the idiocy of DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA in when it comes to finance. First Plexico Burress shoots himself in the ass and now the union shoots itself in the foot by gloating that the NFL won’t be able to make as much money by selling exclusive licenses, thereby reducing the dollar size of the 59.6% pool of money available to players.
    It seems that unions for millionaires are no different that the unions for working stiffs. They snuffed out Flint and Detroit, Michigan with their “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” mentality, and now they want to ruin the best sport in the world. Most NFL players have college degrees in professions that would pay them maybe 10% of the median NFL player’s salary. If the NFLPA gets greedy and walks out next year, fans will be justly pissed at players.

  19. joetoronto says: May 24, 2010 8:56 PM

    ChargerDillon says: May 24, 2010 8:06 PM
    This is great for teams like the Raiders, Lions, and Rams because nobody wants to buy their crap anyways.
    It’ll make the supply and demand high for the players/teams that are actually successful
    Thus giving players on specific teams more incentive to play hard to make their jerseys/logos worth more not only to the team but themselves as they perform well
    For the first time in a long time somebody told the NFL they arn’t the boss
    ========================================
    Your a complete bonehead, Dillon. The Raiders outsell most NFL teams, and always have.
    What you don’t understand is that the Raider Nation is worldwide, while the Chargers only matter in San Diego.
    By the way, the NFL IS THE BOSS, because the owners sign the paychecks of the workers, including players.

  20. Chapnasty2 says: May 24, 2010 9:41 PM

    @ joetoronto
    I would like to see your evidence that “raidernation” is worldwide or if there really is such a thing.

  21. mateo.erre says: May 24, 2010 9:55 PM

    The Raiders do sell a lot of merchandise. When Moss was there his jersey was #1 in the NFL. When the Raiders are successful they’re at the very top of sales.

  22. NitshkesGhost@1265 says: May 24, 2010 10:10 PM

    The funny thing is you all keep refering to the NFLPA as a union, when it is not a true union.
    Each player individually negotiates with each team for their wages, benefits, and bonuses. The NFLPA is worse than a union. Its phony existance to protecet the rights interests and safety of its representees has morphed into the money making machine Players Inc. It is more corrupt than any union in this land. Why are the retired players out begging for help. Players Inc and the Nfl could have long ago taken care of the men that made this league what it is, yet greed rules the day and still the old heros suffer. The NFLPA has nothing to hang its hat on, no mark of pride. The only thing it will accomplish is combining with the NFL in 2011 they will screw the fans out of a football season for nothing more than pure greed. Gene Upshaw was a puppet and a joke.
    Mr. Smith is just the punchline.

  23. VASeahawk says: May 24, 2010 11:08 PM

    To borrow a line from someone else…Dee Smith a is a DeDeDee

  24. joetoronto says: May 25, 2010 6:27 AM

    Chapnasty2 says: May 24, 2010 9:41 PM
    @ joetoronto
    I would like to see your evidence that “raidernation” is worldwide or if there really is such a thing.
    ==========================================
    You want “evidence” that the Raiders have fan support all over the world, Chapnasty2?
    I suggest you start traveling then. I’ve seen Raider merchandise everywhere, not so with the Chargers and many other teams.

  25. Caldon says: May 25, 2010 7:53 AM

    No one ever accused them of being smart

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