I am a big Jets fan, as you all know. Consequently, you also know that I hate the New England Patriots. However, I was disturbed to hear the news came this week that Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is going to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the NFL's investigation into Spygate. He has stated that he will consider convening Congressional hearings if he doesn't like the commissioner's answers, even consider moving to have the league's anti-trust exemption revoked. He says, in an interview with Dan Patrick, that "the fans have a right to know that the game is on the up and up." Two things need to be noted here, one, he has no business in the investigation, and two, the anti-trust exemption is a major reason the league is what it is today.
Mind Your Own Business, Senator
The Congress of this country has no business being involved in an internal NFL investigation. The role of Congress is to come into the situation when an illegal act is happening. The steroids scandal, for example. It is illegal to take steroids without a prescription. Here, Washington is taking appropriate action. Last time I checked, it isn't illegal to run a video tape machine. If the league felt it right, the taping could be not even against the rules. Congress does not belong involved in an internal investigation regarding videotaping. What's next? Is Congress going to get involved next time there is a pass interference call that a politician doesn't approve of? I think this is a slippery slope that Congress doesn't belong in.
Anti-Trust Exemptions and the NFL Success
In 1961, Pete Rozelle negotiated the NFL an anti-trust exemption through the Congress. What does that mean? Well, it means that the league was given the ability to negotiate major items on behalf of its owners, such as TV contracts. Senator Specter has noted that this exemption has made the owners a lot of money. That is true, but more importantly, what the Senator needs to understand, is that this has allowed the owners to all bring in the SAME money. Because the league is represented as one for TV contracts, this has allowed the league to split the TV revenue evenly amongst every team. If the Senator is able to have the exemption reversed, this means that each team will be negotiating their own TV contracts. This means that if you root for a team in Phoenix , or Indianapolis, you will not be seeing the same money in TV revenue as NY teams. This will lead to a slippery slope that ends the revenue sharing at the gate. Currently the teams split gate receipts at a 60/40 percentage. If the exemption is reversed, the owners, who have a right to make money, will have this process ended as well. Cardinal fans, like being able to sign Edgerrin James? If the exemption is revoked, good luck being able to compete for free agents, because you won't be able to. Whatever he thinks he would be fixing by doing this, the Senator would be doing that much more harm.
What is the Senator's Real Motivation
Why is the Senator really doing this? He wants the games on the "up and up"? I don't think so. Remembering that this is a senator from the state of Pennsylvania, listen to his interview on www.danpatrick.com, where he states that when he learned of SpyGate, he wanted to know if any taping was done BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL WHERE THE EAGLES LOST TO THE PATRIOTS! Are you kidding me? His real issue is whether or not the football team in his state that played the Patriots had a real shot at winning the game, not that all teams have a shot. He then throws out statements like "if they were stealing defensive signals, were they stealing offensive?" but this is all window dressing. He is defending his Eagles, plain and simple.
Senator Specter, stay out of it. There is no room for Congress to butt in on internal NFL investigations, where all you can do is cause more problems.