Sports and the Law: First Brief in American Needle v. NFL Due on Friday

American Needle v NFL logo.jpgFor those who have been following the Supreme Court case American Needle v. NFL (previously blogged about in more detail here, here, and here), this Friday clothing manufacturer American Needle Inc. will file its opening brief, arguing that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to define the NFL as a single-entity under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
As many of you know, I have long agreed with American Needle’s view that the NFL should be treated as a collection of 32 separate clubs, and not as a single entity. To me, this issue was best resolved by the Second Circuit back in the 1982 case North American Soccer League v. Nat’l Football League, in which that court held “the sound and more just procedure is to judge the legality of [sports league] restraints according to well-recognized standards of our antitrust laws rather than permit their exemption.”
Currently, the Second Circuit’s view remains in the overwhelming majority, as seven previous courts have upheld this view and rejected the NFL clubs’ single-entity argument. The Seventh Circuit meanwhile remains alone in its iconoclastic position that single-entity status should be determined one league at a time, one function at a time.
American Needle’s counsel on this matter in the law firm Jones Day. The National Football League meanwhile is represented by Covington & Burling LLC–a firm where former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue serves as Senior Of Counsel.
Marc Edelman is a Professor at Barry Law School in Orlando, FL. He previously was a Visiting Professor at Rutgers School of Law-Camden. His bio is available here, and his publications, here.

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