Will NFL ruling have an effect on Vikings?

A Supreme Court ruling saying the NFL is 32 independent teams is expected to affect marketing deals, but might it also have some effect on the StarCaps case?

In what many are hailing as a victory for the players union, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 9-0 in the American Needle case Monday that the NFL's 32 teams do not act a single entity, which would have been a major hurdle had the high court ruled the league was above anti-trust laws.

In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that NFL teams don't possess "the complete unity of interest" needed for an exemption. Rather, each team is a separately owned business competing vigorously against the others, both on and off the field."

In a statement released Monday, the NFL Players Association contended that the American Needle case, which dealt with licensing agreements for player apparel (in this instance NFL hats), would have had much wider ramifications had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the league. "Although the case arose from an apparel license, the case and today's decision have a broad impact on the business of the NFL as a whole. Had the court allowed the NFL to evade the anti-trust laws, ticket prices would have increased, free agency would have ended or been crippled, the way we watch football on television would have fundamentally altered and our state and local governments would have been held hostage by a league with a Court-issued license to run wild," the statement read.

While that seems a bit far-fetched, it does pose some questions heading into the future about the league's position that it is one company operating under one shield instead of 32 separate companies under the banner of the National Football League.

Where this decision may have ramifications is in the current legal challenges being made to the league's drug-testing policy. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams maintain the league's handling of their StarCaps case violated Minnesota laws concerning drug testing in the workplace. If the current view of the Supreme Court following the American Needle decision is that the NFL consists of 32 separate entities, it could undercut the effectiveness of a league-wide policy concerning the teams being viewed as a single unit.

While the American Needle decision may be a landmark of sorts in anti-trust law, it may serve as the case that opens the door to defining what role an organization like the Vikings has in the bigger picture of things in the NFL.


  • The NFL owners meetings are underway in Dallas and overtime rules are one of the first issues that are expected to be discussed, with a potential rules change that would institute the new overtime rules for playoff games into regular season games. However, it appears as though there isn't the level of interest among owners to expand the rule at this time, so it is unlikely the matter will come to a vote.

  • The Vikings resumed OTA practices Monday. The only session that will be open to the media this week is Thursday's practice.

  • Former Viking Willie Offord has been named a minority coaching intern for the Vikings this season.

  • The owners will vote on the site of Super Bowl XLVIII, with the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey currently viewed as the frontrunner despite the potential for brutal weather impacting the game.

  • The latest Terrell Owens rumor has him potentially landing with the Bears. Owens, who has become something of a mercenary around the NFL, is looking for a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $5 million.

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