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The NFL Tries To Use A Legal Victory To Block Future Challenges

Here’s one that fits perfectly with the non-football portion of the offseason.

Because even though it relates to the NFL, it has no bearing whatsoever on anything we’ll ever see on a Sunday. Or a Monday night. Or a periodic Thursday. Or Christmas. Or Saturdays in January.

But it’s late June. And there ain’t much else happening today. So here goes.

The NFL has faced various antitrust challenges in court from time to time. The league has tried to argue that its various teams are one single entity, and thus cannot act together in the way that antitrust laws prohibit.

Typically, the NFL has failed, based on the fact that the 32 teams each have separate owners.

Most recently, the NFL has found a way to win that argument, in a case attacking the exclusive license given to Reebok for headgear bearing NFL team names and logos.

Specifically, a federal appeals court has found that the NFL and its 32 franchises do indeed constitute a single entity under Section 1 of the Sherman Act (please try to stay awake). And now the NFL wants to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt that rule as the law of the entire land.

Before the Supreme Court can review the case, the Supreme Court has to decide to accept the case. Only a very small fraction of the cases submitted to the Supreme Court are accepted.

The Supreme Court usually gets involved when the various federal appeals courts have answered a legal question in conflicting ways, or when the decision from the appeals court constitutes a clear and egregious error.

Success would prevent the NFL from facing further antitrust claims based on allegations that its teams were acting in concert in violation of various applicable laws.

There’s a chance that the Supreme Court will take up the case, and then decide that the federal appeals court was wrong. But the league apparently is willing to risk its victory in the name of preventing future cases based on the same theory.

The Supreme Court asked the United States solicitor general for an opinion as to whether the case should be accepted, and the solicitor general recommended that the Supreme Court pass.

A decision from the Supreme Court could come as soon as Monday.

Though the other sports leagues compete with the NFL in many respects, they all are likely rooting for pro football in this specific case.

The rest of us, however, will continue to have a hard time caring about the issue.