- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"The leagues have merged," Rosenbaum told Brodie when he came back to the golf course.
"Somebody owes me $750,000," said Brodie and went to the phone himself. He called his brother, Bill, an attorney and former left-handed quarterback at USC when Al Davis was an assistant coach there He also called Sonny Marx, who in turn called an attorney named John Elliott Cook, a specialist in corporate and business law. On Cook's advice, Brodie went to Oahu, Hawaii and refused to answer questions. Cook informed the pro football establishment that his client would settle for $1,000,000, plus $100,000 in legal fees. If the price was not met, Cook warned, Brodie would go to court against professional football and seek treble damages.
Again it was Klosterman who was sent to see Brodie. Klosterman flew to Honolulu with an offer from pro football. Brodie would be paid $750,000 plus $50,000 in legal fees, the sum to be paid over a period of 10 years. All Brodie had to do was come back and play football for San Francisco. Brodie told Klosterman no thanks and replied he would rather have the million. (Another possibility briefly considered was that Brodie might be waived out of the NFL—not too difficult to accomplish because of the size of his salary—and given to Houston, since the 49ers were unwilling to assume a large share of the payment.)
When Klosterman went to Honolulu, it was not as a representative of the AFL but as a representative of both leagues. Why did the two leagues, after warring with each other for six years, suddenly decide to cooperate in settling a problem that the AFL had intensified?
The answer was not only the desire of both leagues for peace (and the desire was so strong that the AFL even agreed to a proviso that does not allow any of its teams to draft a quarterback until the New York Giants have selected one) but to avoid the effect a Brodie lawsuit might have on the attitude of the antitrust division of the Justice Department toward the merger of the leagues and on the attempted passage of the Sports Bill.
For years professional football, basketball and ice hockey have been trying to get Congress to approve a Sports Bill that would exempt these sports from antitrust in certain areas. Baseball has such an exemption as the result of a judicial decision. The Sports Bill is very important to the merger because the key part of the merger is the common draft. A common draft would not wipe out rookie bonuses altogether but it would reduce them to a size the owners say they can afford. Those who oppose the common draft contend that pro football owners without the threat of antitrust action would be no more generous in dealings with employees than any other owners of corporations valued at $10,000,000 or more. That may be true, but it is also true that professional football cannot survive without a common draft unless owners in both leagues are suddenly blessed with more wisdom and temperance than they have shown so far. And the common draft is doomed without the Sports Bill. With no antitrust exemption, even an awkward halfback like the one Ralph Wilson spoke of will be able to file suit claiming he has been deprived of his bargaining rights, and his price could go back up to $200,000 again, which hardly solves pro football's quandary.
The Sports Bill has passed the Senate. It is now tied up in the House Judiciary Committee, of which Representative Emanuel Celler of New York is chairman. Celler, who has never been happy about exempting sports from antitrust action since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, has proposed an alternate bill called Celler's Rule of Reason. The essence is that anything can be done unless it is proved illegal in court, which is about the way things are anyhow. If the Sports Bill does not pass the House this session, it will have to start all over again in the Senate next year—by which time the merger could have been voided. Rozelle has asked Congress for a special bill that would allow the merger and the common draft to proceed as planned. As yet nobody knows what will happen. According to some informal legal opinion, Brodie had a very good case, especially with his memo pad as proof of the offer, and pro football did not want to fight him, particularly at this time. The Ditka and Gabriel cases will be settled later. The others presumably had not signed anything but were merely phoning and talking.
John Elliott Cook and Brodie's brother, Bill, had certainly advised him of his position. Brodie remained on Oahu with his wife, Sue, and his family. He played golf, played volleyball, ran in the sand and said, "No comment," several times a day to keep in practice. Lou Spadia was not talking. Nobody was talking. On Tuesday, Aug. 2, Spadia flew to Chicago for a meeting with Rozelle.
And that afternoon Brodie returned to San Francisco. The next day he signed a contract that pleased him.
The contract guarantees Brodie a minimum of $921,000 over the next 12 years and pays $75,000 to his attorneys.