New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees is siding with the free market against his bosses, writing in an op-ed Sunday that the NFL team owners' argument — being heard in the Supreme Court this week — that they are one entity and therefore not violating antitrust laws would put an end to free agency in the league.
In an editorial that appeared in The Washington Post Sunday, Brees said that if the NFL case is successful, it will allow the owners to price-fix tickets, gear and player salaries, among other items.
"They could agree to end or severely restrict free agency, continue to enter into exclusive agreements that will further raise prices on merchandise, lock coaches into salary scales that don't reward them when they're promoted and set higher ticket prices (including preventing teams from competing through ticket discounts)," Brees wrote.
The Supreme Court will begin oral arguments Wednesday to ultimately decide whether the NFL is a single entity that can act collectively or 32 districts that must be careful about running afoul of antitrust laws.
The justices will hear an appeal from American Needle Inc., of Buffalo Grove, Ill., which filed an antitrust challenge to an agreement the NFL struck with Reebok International Ltd. American Needle had been one of many firms that manufactured NFL headwear until the league granted an exclusive contract to Reebok in 2001.
The NFL won the case in the federal appeals court in Chicago. But it also asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in a quest for a more sweeping decision that could put an end to what the league considers costly, frivolous antitrust lawsuits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.