Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

American Needle Case Shouldn't Change Sports

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As I predicted here on this blog this morning, the American Needle vs. The NFL Supreme Court hearing was a total buzzkill.

This had been trumped up to be a potentially groundbreaking case if the Supreme Court justices decided to grant the league a broad anti-trust exemption.

If that happened, the logic followed, the league could effectively negate unions and fix salaries. One headline screamed it could be "armageddon."

What transpired at Wednesday's hearings hinted at nothing of the sort.

The justices were interested in finding out why the league operated as a single entity in granting an apparel exclusive to Reebok and shutting out American Needle. And why American Needle thought the teams should operate separately when they need to compete with each other on the field and even split merchandise revenues.

While representatives for the NFL Players Union continued to trumpet the possibility of a broad anti-trust exemption after the hearings, the NFL's lawyer Gregg Levy told me that couldn't be farther from the truth.

"You have been spending too much time reading the papers of Drew Brees instead of reading our briefs," Levy said, referring to the editorial in the Washington Post by the New Orleans Saints quarterback, which furthered the doomsday scenario of a broad anti-trust exemption that threatened the existence of the league-player dynamic.

"This case doesn't have anything to do with unions," Levy said. "If the case is bigger than other cases it is because hype of the press not the substance of our briefs."

After hearing the justices line of questioning today, we're pretty sure that the future doesn't involve legal salary fixing and no unions.

Questions?  Comments?