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NFLPA* should drop any efforts to attack NFL’s antitrust exemption for broadcasting

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At a time when the NFL is facing a class-action lawsuit against all of its current and future (at least for 2011) players alleging violations of the antitrust laws, at least one member of Congress wants to strip the league of an important exemption from antitrust liability.

Starting in 1961, Congress provided the NFL with an antitrust exemption as to its broadcasting deals.  As a result, the league may sell its television rights in a 32-team block.  This means that any network that wants to televise popular teams like the Cowboys, Patriots, and Steelers also must purchase the possibility of airing less compelling matchups involving the less popular teams.  (We were going to list a few, but in the offseason everyone is 0-0, and anyone can win the Super Bowl.  Besides, we didn’t want to deal with whining from Panthers, Bengals, and Bills fans.  Oops.)

Now, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.; pictured) wants to revoke the antitrust exemption.  It’s a topic that NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith has been mentioning for a couple of years.  In July 2009, Smith led a contingent to Capitol Hill for the purposes of reminding Congress about the “gifts” that lawmakers have given to the league, including the antitrust exemption.

It’s a dangerous game for Smith and the players.  Losing the exemption would dramatically change the manner in which the NFL markets TV rights, allowing men like Jerry Jones to pull a Notre Dame, selling the rights to all of the Cowboys’ home games to one network, at a rate much higher than most other teams could get.  Though the total dollars for all TV contracts would possibly stay the same, it would be much harder to persuade Jones and other owners of popular teams to agree to share the revenue that they generate from their own broadcasting contracts.

That said, the fact that Republicans currently control the House of Representatives will prevent Conyers’ proposed legislation from gaining traction.  Though Convyers is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, the current committee chair won’t take up the matter.

“The owners and players are both literally and figuratively big boys and do not need Congress to referee every dispute for them,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-Tx.) said.

Though we’re not prepared to suggest that Congress should stay out of a matter of such intense public interest, revoking the antitrust exemption potentially would do far more harm to the game than the current labor dispute ever will.

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47 Responses to “NFLPA* should drop any efforts to attack NFL’s antitrust exemption for broadcasting”
  1. kane337 says: Mar 16, 2011 11:00 PM

    Congress should absolutely stay out of the matter. It’s not even a debate.

  2. txchief says: Mar 16, 2011 11:01 PM

    I guess that cash Conyers was hiding in his freezer was from the NFLPA! Conyers is an unrepentant douche who represents all that is wrong with our political system.

  3. redgreen3b1 says: Mar 16, 2011 11:08 PM

    Who cares! With Sunday NFL Ticket. I watch whoever the eff I want 2 watch anyway.

  4. redgreen3b1 says: Mar 16, 2011 11:12 PM

    And that’s the bottom line. Austin 3 16

  5. lunarpie says: Mar 16, 2011 11:29 PM

    How about, just start all over?!?!?!?!

  6. damnskins703 says: Mar 16, 2011 11:30 PM

    WHO CARES

  7. Deb says: Mar 16, 2011 11:40 PM

    Whoa!!!

    Bad idea. That exemption keeps small-market teams alive. Players are paid from the total revenue pie, which is larger if TV contracts are bid as a unit. If they’re bid individually, some teams will make a lot more than others–and player contracts will have to be reworked to reflect that. Those playing for less successful teams will earn much less. And since they have no control over where they play–how is this in the players’ interest?

    And why would a Michigan congressman champion this? Yes, he reps a union state, but at this point, the Lions won’t benefit from losing the exemption. It also doesn’t make sense that Texas Republicans would object since this has long been Jerry’s endgame and he’s a big Republican contributor.

    None of this adds up.

  8. tuckercarlsonisthevoiceofreason says: Mar 16, 2011 11:42 PM

    The NFLPA better watch it or they’re going to kill the golden goose. Then how much money will they be making?

  9. endzonezombie says: Mar 16, 2011 11:45 PM

    “Though the total dollars for all TV contracts would possibly stay the same, it would be much harder to persuade Jones and other owners of popular teams to agree to share the revenue that they generate from their own broadcasting contracts.”

    It’s not the players greed that is the biggest issue in the NFL. The NFL needs to protect owners from their own greed.

  10. dbellina says: Mar 16, 2011 11:48 PM

    “Besides, we didn’t want to deal with whining from Panthers, Bengals, and Bills fans”

    You forgot us Vikings fans.

  11. odessabucs says: Mar 16, 2011 11:56 PM

    Amen and pass the biscuits.

  12. mataug says: Mar 16, 2011 11:58 PM

    “the fact that Republicans currently control the House of Representatives will prevent Conyers’ proposed legislation from gaining traction”

    I’ve been under the assumption that most NFL owners are Republican supporters(I’ve only been in the US for three years, so perhaps I’m wrong). So will the legislation fail because it has been proposed by a democrat(and so the Republicans will reject it) or because the league doesn’t want to give up the exemption ?

  13. mick730 says: Mar 17, 2011 12:05 AM

    Fortunately for the NFL, John Conyers is no brighter than Adrian Peterson or Kevin whatisname on the Chargers. He also has about the same level of influence these days. None.

  14. klunge says: Mar 17, 2011 12:07 AM

    Spend less time meddling with sports disputes that don’t concern you Conyers, and more time visiting your convicted corrupt politician wife in prison. This bozo either thinks this stance will curry favor with local unions in MI, or he’s been offered some bribe by De Smith.

  15. ursushorribilis says: Mar 17, 2011 12:08 AM

    Memaurice is starting to realize he is losing……throwing the kitchen sink at the NFL reeks of desperation……not a chance with Republicans in control this will happen…..

    CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN!

  16. realfann says: Mar 17, 2011 12:27 AM

    With respect, I disagree.

    This is an issue that would drive a solid wedge between big market teams and the small teams. A divide that already exists between owners and one that fuels bitter disputes between them about revenue sharing.

    If you want to see Jerry Jones REALLY get upset ask him how his franchise subsidizes other owners who sit back and rake in profits rather than working and investing in revenue growth as he does. Compare what he personally does for the league against the Panthers owner. Jerry has a valid point. Mr Panthers is a free loader and he’s not alone. There’s also the Bidwells , the Yorks, etc etc etc

    The league and owners are actively pushing issues that’s only purposes are to pit player against player so it seems “fair” to replay like with like.

    Taste of their own medicine?

  17. hkirch says: Mar 17, 2011 12:30 AM

    reminder BOTH teams AND players benefit from this broadcast deal. Plus keep the parity and
    salary levels equal among teams. Don’t kill the gooose that laid….

  18. rolandsloan says: Mar 17, 2011 12:36 AM

    The TV deal as currently structured is the Golden
    Egg layed by a Goose that benefits the owners
    and the players. Especially the players! Think
    about that NFLPA.
    Congress. This antitrust exemption is important
    to fans too. Especially fans of small market teams.
    Please don’t help us.

  19. goodjet says: Mar 17, 2011 12:40 AM

    With all these forces from inside and outside trying to destroy the NFL, I’m afraid there just isn’t going to be a lot of time left for this league as we know it —- It already has changed so much in the last few years with a commissioner that makes a new rule first thing every morning — To an NFLPA executive director looking to make a name for himself and greedy out of touch with the real world union leaders to the handful of owners who for some crazy insane greedy reasons would like to follow the path of baseball to congressman trying to make a name for themselves to who knows who or what next —- I have seen a lot of great NFL football over the years and I’m lucky to have seen it but I have zero faith that this game will not implode or whatever at some point in the not so distant future if not sooner or now —- It’s just amazing that so many people want to crush and ruin and destroy such a good thing that so many people have enjoyed and have had such a real passion about and so many people just want to change it all and ruin it — It’s really amazing — I used to think and not to long ago that pretty much whatever I was going through in life at least I would get to enjoy real NFL football until I was just gone —- I now realize just how stupid that was, there’s just way to many forces at work trying to bring it all down

  20. footballhistorian says: Mar 17, 2011 12:41 AM

    In July 2009, Smith led a contingent to Capitol Hill for the purposes of reminding Congress about the “gifts” that lawmakers have given to the league, including the antitrust exemption.

    Gifts – typical thing a democrat/socialist would believe (ESPECIALLY like conyers)…everything is the state’s first. Then, through their benevolence and their righteousness, if we’ve all been acceptable little serfs, they allow us to have what they deem we need. I know – I know, it’s football around here…but the mind set of these politicians gets my blood going.

  21. mayfieldroadboy says: Mar 17, 2011 12:52 AM

    John Conyers is an anti-business, pro-union, hip-deep-in-sh!t liberal whose only function in congress is to remind us, just by his presence and attitude, how ugly socialism is.

  22. bison4me says: Mar 17, 2011 12:54 AM

    Please leave the elected officials out of this. If you think things are already jacked up, let someone from congress get involved. There won’t be Pro Football for 5 years.

  23. tommytd says: Mar 17, 2011 3:03 AM

    Though we’re not prepared to suggest that Congress should stay out of a matter of such intense public interest, revoking the antitrust exemption potentially would do far more harm to the game than the current labor dispute ever will.
    *******************************************************
    Can’t do much more harm to the game than these two parties have already done to it. You’ve got a work stoppage…what could be worse than that!

  24. tednancy says: Mar 17, 2011 5:16 AM

    That’s the last straw. Duh Smith and his entourage must be crushed for the good of the game.

    Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. De Smith’s stupidity is only matched by his bloated ego.

  25. angrycorgi says: Mar 17, 2011 5:24 AM

    So, by his actions, Dumb*** Smith actually wants to destroy revenue sharing AND the salary cap, which would raise a few players potential income, but greatly reduce the # of competitive teams and thus reduce the number of lucrative player contracts. It’s obvious this guy has no idea what he’s doing…I don’t think you could act in a more self-defeating manner if you intentionally tried.

  26. seabreezes51 says: Mar 17, 2011 6:00 AM

    I think the can of worms is gonna get pretty ugly as both sides find out what they have done is wreck what was a great league.

  27. jtfris says: Mar 17, 2011 7:12 AM

    If the players ever succeed in destroying the competitive balance of the league. I’m done. It will be as worthless as baseball.

  28. pppath says: Mar 17, 2011 7:12 AM

    The antitrust exemption is a socialist and communist tool to circumvent a democratic capitalist system. Oh, wait a minute, it is being employed by conservative republicans, so it must be ok.

  29. jc1958cool says: Mar 17, 2011 7:25 AM

    where is all the free $$$ and exemptions for the fans! the fans should boycott one game this year, i say week 2!!! don’t go don’t watch

  30. chapnastier says: Mar 17, 2011 7:36 AM

    Our country hasn’t had a budget since Obama was elected. I understand that football is important to us but in the broad scheme of things it doesn’t matter. I’d like to see congress get the economy on an actual recovery and get our country back on track. It’s been 3 years now since the “recession”, you would think that these clowns (both parties included) could do something about it. Leave football and other sports alone for now.

  31. nflpasux says: Mar 17, 2011 7:50 AM

    Conyers is a socialist tool of the Michigan unions. The greedy union bosses have already destroyed the domestic auto industry, have crippled state government spending in Wisconsion , Ohio, etc, and now want to destroy the NFL.

    Talk about bite your nose to spite your face! How well would Jacksonville, St. Louis, Baltimore, San Diego, Cleveland, Buffalo etc fare in negotiating individual TV contracts? It would be back to the 1950s. TV revenues, which currently account for about half of the NFL pie, would drop precipitously. One or two NFL teams with the biggest national interest (pretty uniforms? cheerleaders?) may gain larger contracts — then again, outside of Notre Dame, does any single college team make as much by the broadcasting of scores of free games each weekend?

    Fortunately, we had a game-changing election last year which makes Conyers totally irrelevant, so this story will go nowhere.

  32. pppath says: Mar 17, 2011 7:56 AM

    Ok, let me try one more time.

    In the 1850′s, the conservatives would work the laborers 14hrs a day AND their 8 year old children would have to work beside them. For room and board at best. Ok, maybe a couple extra cents. Whole families were working for the rich and dieing at young ages (compared to their rich friends).

    In the 1970′s, coal miners in west virginia were making just above minimum wage and dieing from premature death at a rate WAY below their employers. They are still dead and their employers are still rich.

    So, since the players are actually becomming equal to their employers, you want them to take a dive?

    Screw them (employers). The rich have made their money off of the sweat of our backs for centuries. Let’s make it equal. Though it should be the coal miners, I don’t mind it being the NFL players. Time for a little “trickle down” on the workers side. Let’s get that money and benefits trickling on down to us hard workers who have made the nation rich directly instead of after they (the rich owners) buy their three mansions and 10 rolls royces.

  33. thebigolddog says: Mar 17, 2011 7:59 AM

    I’ve listened to several lengthy interviews with some of the players driving this NFLPA bus and it’s obvious to me they rather destroy the NFL than give an inch. These are people with axes to grind who have no real perspective. They have no idea what life would be like if they weren’t fortunate enough to make the NFL. Unfortunately they were picked and goaded by a man with more to gain by destroying the NFL than reaching a fair deal. It’s a dangerous combination.

  34. jasoncnz says: Mar 17, 2011 8:06 AM

    What A Joke! First of all, It is absolutely ridiculous that Congress wants to stick it’s nose into someone elses business when they aren’t capable of even agreeing on a freaking budget for their own damn business (government).

    Secondly, how ridiculous is it that Congress (the world’s most atrocious group of business managers) want to try and bigfoot the NFL (the world’s most successful group of business managers) by forcing them to dramatically alter their already proven insanely lucrative business model?

    ……………………………………….

  35. jasoncnz says: Mar 17, 2011 8:08 AM

    Thirdly, why in the hell is it that Congress always has to thrust itself into the conversation whenever any of our sports leagues have a big issue come up? I mean seriously! One day, they will decide that “THEY” need to be in charge of providing safety for fans and players alike. As a result, they will of course need to be in charge of regulating well, basically everything? I can see it now… the brand new ‘Government Standards for Sports Safety Department’ (G3SD)! Wouldn’t that be awesome! (he says with sarcasm). They could regulate (they LOVE to do that) everything from the number of beers a fan can buy, right on down to the size and shape of the helmet players wear. Ooh wait…they could do some cool stuff too like say, issuing a $100 million dollar R&D grant (pocket change for them) to fund things like – building a fully autonomous robotic referee. Or perhaps something like engineering a energy dissipating synthetic fiber could be used to create a impact reducing field turf, or IRFT (they love acronyms too). lol Hey…maybe this G3SD thing isn’t such a bad idea after all! Now I’m totally distracted by the thought of robotic refs tooling around on a brand new magic field turf!

  36. fltharley says: Mar 17, 2011 8:15 AM

    the clowns in congress only worry about how there going to get more campaign contributions , they cannot be bothered about the important matters of this country , only that of lining there pockets.

  37. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 17, 2011 8:59 AM

    jasoncnz says: Mar 17, 2011 8:06 AM

    “First of all, It is absolutely ridiculous that Congress wants to stick it’s nose into someone elses business”

    The Federal Government granted the NFL its anti-trust exemptions which, among other things, made them immune to “monopoly” laws – which in turn made them their vast fortunes.

    It’s very much the government’s business, especially when you factor in the number of jobs that could be lost – and let’s not forget all of the taxpayer’s dough that goes into building the owners their shrines to themselves.

  38. semperfi24 says: Mar 17, 2011 9:05 AM

    Hey pppath. I can appreciate your desire to spread the wealth, however, you are missing the point. If the players are able to get a better deal (ie: they make more money), where do you think the money is coming from??? The owners arent going to lose any money in this. If they have to pay players more money, they are simply going to increase ticket prices, increase prices at the concessions stands, increase the price of jerseys, etc. Do you want to pay more money just so that a couple of hundred people (players) make an extra $2k every year????

    The agents will find a way to take every extra penny, and work it into the contracts of players like Manning, Brady, etc. It simply means the players at the top make more, and the players at the bottom make the same. The system isnt broken…

  39. endzonezombie says: Mar 17, 2011 9:25 AM

    There are a lot of morons on this board who just don’t get why Congress should concern itself withthe NFL. Congress represents the people, the taxpayers. The NFL postures itself as the most popular sport in America. The current labor impasse is impacting the fans, who have no representation in this matter. There isn’t a single thing the fans can do in the offseason to voice their displeasure. Oh wait, yes there is. Like any other situation where the everyday person feels victimized by the ‘system’, they can write their congressman. The public has no way of knowing whether this indeed is what is occurring. Letter and emails may be flooding congressional offices asking for intervention. Pressure. Armtwisting: Whatever threat it takes to get both parties back to the negotiating table – this time with sincere offers and counteroffers. And BTW, the Judiciary Committee in the Senate is controlled by Democrats. They have the Chair.

  40. moggy6actual says: Mar 17, 2011 9:44 AM

    Conyers is from Michigan and proposing this, yet the Detroit Lions will suffer if the teams have to negotiate their own TV contracts. I don’t believe the networks will be banging down the door to televise the woeful Lions!

  41. bowsi says: Mar 17, 2011 10:00 AM

    Ironically, they’re playing hardball. This could bring all but a handful of owners to their knees and eventually even the big markets would loose as people loose interest in a non competitive league. This is what it has come to. Lets just say they’re all idiots, yes the owners are every bit as stupid as the players.

  42. FinFan68 says: Mar 17, 2011 10:33 AM

    endzonezombie says:
    Mar 17, 2011 9:25 AM
    There are a lot of morons on this board who just don’t get why Congress should concern itself withthe NFL. Congress represents the people, the taxpayers. The NFL postures itself as the most popular sport in America. The current labor impasse is impacting the fans, who have no representation in this matter.
    ———————————–
    Wow. As a fan of the game, I love NFL football just as much as anybody but getting your feelings hurt is no reason for Congressional involvement. Fans are interested in the game but have no true individual investment in it. Season ticket holders would be the closest thing to an injured party, but they will get money back if the games are cancelled. Willfully paying up-front so the next fan in line doesn’t get your seats is not an investment in the game…it is an investment in your own personal entertainment. There is little difference between the NFL impasse having an effect on the fans and a Hollywood strike where the movie industry stops making films. Nobody has the right to be entertained…it is simply a desire.

  43. bigbeefyd says: Mar 17, 2011 10:59 AM

    This just in – the Versus network has exclusive broadcast rights to all Cincinnatti-Carolina games. The deal is rumored to have cost Versus 27 bucks and a roll of Mentos.

  44. pdxpanther says: Mar 17, 2011 11:02 AM

    redgreen3b1 says:
    Who cares! With Sunday NFL Ticket. I watch whoever the eff I want 2 watch anyway.

    damnskins703 says:
    WHO CARES

    Redgreen, you obviously didn’t read the article, this would jeopardize the NFL package because teams like the Cowboys could say they don’t want to be included in the bundle and force Cowboy fans to have to purchase another plan, not to mention the teams that play the Cowboys every week.

    Damnskins, YOU should care, blindly stating who cares shows how little you know about the situation and what this could mean, especially having an owner like Dan Snyder (assuming you are a ‘Skins fan). If the NFLPA*, oops, i mean DeMaurice Smith decides to go after this, this will further prove that he’s doing this more for himself than the players and will show why the players shouldn’t have picked a former criminal defense attorney to be a union leader. He has no clue.

  45. elrushbo2 says: Mar 17, 2011 11:19 AM

    Another corrupt democrat making threats and trying to bully people (NFL owners). Never saw that one coming.

  46. thehighhat says: Mar 17, 2011 11:27 AM

    endzonezombie says:
    Mar 17, 2011 9:25 AM
    There are a lot of morons on this board who just don’t get why Congress should concern itself withthe NFL. Congress represents the people, the taxpayers.

    _____________________________

    The congress represents the people?!? What rock have you been living under. Congress only represents their own personal wealth and power. They certainly don’t represent NFL fans!

  47. tuckercarlsonisthevoiceofreason says: Mar 17, 2011 11:35 AM

    endzonezombie says:
    Mar 17, 2011 9:25 AM
    There are a lot of morons on this board who just don’t get why Congress should concern itself withthe NFL. Congress represents the people, the taxpayers.
    ______________________

    There are very few people in Congress who truly represent the people. Most of them represent their own interests rather than what’s good for the nation. That’s why we’re trillions of dollars in debt.

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