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The Big Leagues Go to WashingtonCongress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989$
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David George Surdam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039140

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.001.0001

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Can’t We All Get Along? 1966

Can’t We All Get Along? 1966

(p.210) 15 Can’t We All Get Along? 1966
The Big Leagues Go to Washington

David George Surdam

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the antitrust implications of the proposed merger between the National Football League (NFL) and its rival American Football League (AFL). NFL owners had successfully resisted the All-America Football Conference in the late 1940s and monopolized professional football for the next decade. When Texas oilman Lamar Hunt was repeatedly rebuffed in his efforts to secure a team, he decided to form the AFL with other frustrated entrepreneurs seeking teams in mid-1959. The NFL and the AFL went on to fight for several years. Football owners understood that gaining a full-fledged antitrust exemption was not likely, so they concentrated on getting a merger agreement approved by Congress. This chapter discusses the Congressional hearings held in 1966 to tackle the issue of whether to grant antitrust exemptions to football, with particular emphasis on Pete Rozelle's testimony. It also considers House majority leader Hale Boggs's memorandum rebutting an argument that granting an exemption would lay the precedent for other industries to seek similar exemptions. Finally, it looks at the NFL's justification for its proposed merger with the AFL.

Keywords:   antitrust exemptions, National Football League, American Football League, Lamar Hunt, Congress, Congressional hearings, football, Pete Rozelle, Hale Boggs

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