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Litigation over ownership structure could be looming between the NFL, Titans

View of Titans Helmet

8 Oct 2000: A general view of the Tennessee Titans helmet after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Titans defeated the Bengals 23-14.Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon /Allsport

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As noted earlier on Sunday, the Titans currently are trying to persuade the league office that the ownership structure in the aftermath of the passing of founder Bud Adams complies with all applicable rules and provisions. It has caused some to speculate that, if the Titans fail, the Adams family may sell the team.

If they do, they likely won’t be going quietly.

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, there’s a belief among key members of the organization that the team has hired a “noted antitrust lawyer” to defend the position of the franchise that the current structure complies with league rules. If accurate, it means that litigation could be looming between the Titans and the league.

Regardless of whether the situation ends up in court, the source tells PFT that the Titans strongly disagree with the league’s position on the situation. The Titans also contend that a number of other teams have more difficult ownership situations than Tennessee’s.

The NFL had no comment on the Tennessee dispute, other than to confirm that, for franchises owned more than 10 years by one person or family, a lone individual can hold as little as five percent of the team, as long as the family still owns at least 30 percent.

It’s unclear why the league specifically believes that the Titans aren’t in compliance, and it’s unclear why the Titans specifically believe they are. The possibility of antitrust litigation means that the Titans’ ultimate position would be to say that they can own the team however they want to own the team, and that a cabal of otherwise independent businesses can’t tell them otherwise.