SXsports: League vs. Player

Sports attorneys focus on the battles off the field

An hour was not nearly enough to cover the expansive – and progressively treacherous – terrain related to league/player relations, which are becoming increasingly litigious with the signing of each league’s collective bargaining agreements.

Attorneys abound, the attention quickly turned to curious and recent league adjudications of criminal and civil cases, not theoretically effecting league play.

Moderator Gabe Feldman with panelists Kelli Masters, Scott Fujita, and Andrew Brandt (photo by John Leach)

Of course, there was an inevitable focus on the NFL, given the connections of everyone on the panel – especially opinionated 10-year pro Scott Fujita and current ESPN NFL legal analyst Andrew Brandt. The league, traveling within the confines of violent hurricane’s eye, maintains a tenuous balance.

The league that owns Sunday has become one of “constant battles over interpretations," as well as “political and liability-driven,” says Fujita, former Saints and Chiefs linebacker turned film producer. Brandt says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell represents a “sea change,” noting that the power he’s wielded has actually always been available to the office – but that he’s the first to test its parameters and limits.

Moderator and Tulane law professor Gabe Feldman explained that the NFL, compared to the other top professional leagues, had actually managed to find itself in many more federally adjudicated cases – though the league had set provisions for avoidance of outside interference. Relating to Tom Brady’s Deflategate fiasco (which went to federal court) and many others coming forth, agent/attorney Kelli Masters wonders if the player has been put behind the 8-ball in regards to lawful notice. Has the athlete been given sufficient notice of rule breaking, and – to Fujita’s point of interpretation – what constitutes sufficient notice?

Talks also turned to the meat of the matter: economics. Both Brandt and Fujita, a former VP of the NFL’s union, sees viable strategies used in the labor struggles of the NBA and NHL – decertification and (more) litigation – as possible answers, in the battle of millionaires versus billionaires. Now that labor battles have strayed away from basic rights, like pensions and medical benefits, how does a union combat a contentious league set on taking back every dollar it’s claimed to have “lost,” and even more?

League vs. Player: The Battle Off the Field

Saturday, March 12, Four Seasons

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

SXSW: Virtual Reality Porn
SXSW: Virtual Reality Porn
Needless to say, there was a line to try it out

Ashley Moreno, March 19, 2016

Talking Bullshit With Nell Scovell
Talking Bullshit With Nell Scovell
Muppets writer on buzzwords and the uphill battle for women in comedy

Jen Sorensen, March 16, 2016

More by Kahron Spearman
Austin's Hip-Hop Pioneers, in Their Own Words
Austin's Hip-Hop Pioneers, in Their Own Words
The Austin History Center-archived rappers and industry innovators share stories

Sept. 15, 2023

The Prodigal Producer: Austin’s Malik Baptiste Comes Home
The Prodigal Producer: Austin’s Malik Baptiste Comes Home
Alchemical rapper returns from L.A. with 24-karat solo tracks

Sept. 8, 2023


SXsports, SXSW, SXSW Interactive 2016, Scott Fujita, Gabe Feldman, Kelli Masters, Andrew Brandt, NBA, NFL

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle