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The Effects Of Different Laws On Business In The National Football League (NFL)

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In today’s world of business there are many types of laws which have a direct relation to different businesses around the world. Administrative, Constitutional, Criminal and Tort law all play an important role in business. We will discuss how each law affects business in the National Football League (NFL). First on the list is Administrative Law, which are a collection of rules created by different agencies. These administrative agencies are government bodies created by the legislative branch. Congress creates administrative agencies through passage of enabling legislation, which is a statute that specified the name, functions, and specific powers of the administrative agency. Enabling statutes grant agencies broad power for the purpose of serving the “public interest, convenience, and necessity.” These broad powers include rule making, investigation, and adjudication.” (Kubasek).

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Administrative Law has proven to be a huge part of day to day business in the NFL. One of the largest cases to date involving administrative law and the NFL is Maurice Claret vs. The NFL. After being suspended from The Ohio State University indefinitely, he choose to challenge one of the NFL’s longest standing rules. A requirement of 3 NFL seasons needing to have passed since a player graduated before they are eligible to enter the NFL draft or sign as a free agent.

On February 5, 2004, Judge Scheindlin issued her opinion finding in favor of Clarett. The Judge began by stating that “Clarett’s challenge to the Rule raises serious questions arising at the intersection of labor law and antitrust law, not to mention the intersection of college football and professional football.” In rejecting the NFL’s argument that the rule was immune from antitrust scrutiny because of the non-statutory labor exemption, the district court found that the rule did not concern a mandatory subject of bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), restrained only non-employees, and “did not clearly result from arm’s length negotiations.”

Without the shield of the labor exemption to protect the rule, the court found the rule to be “blatantly anticompetitive” and determined that “Clarett had alleged the very type of injury – a complete bar to entry into the market for his services – that the antitrust laws are designed to prevent.” Quoting Learned Hand, the court observed “that the antitrust laws will not tolerate a contract “which unreasonably forbids any one to practice his calling.'” (Milstein 2015) Clarett was able to come away with the win in this court, which was due to Administrative Law which governs labor relations. Although this ruling was eventually taken to the Supreme Court and over turned, it is a great example of how the Administrative Law works in relation to the NFL business.

The Constitutional Law speaks directly to the current events in today’s NFL. The NFL has been front in center in discussions as it relates to our First Amendment and the right for one Colin Kaepernick to sit during the national anthem. It has become big topic of discussion with many arguing that his job as a professional football player disqualifies him from thru use of his First Amendment right. A stance in which I whole heartedly disagree with.

Constitutional Law is defined as the general limits and powers of a government as interpreted from the written constitution. The part I would like to bring special attention to is the “limit” of power that has been clearly defined by the Constitution. The First Amendment guaranties freedom of speech, including gestures and other forms of expression, and of the press. (Kubasek 2015) Mr. Kaepernick is expressing his rights as an American citizen and I believe it would be unconstitutional to suggest otherwise.

Criminal Law and the NFL have been connecting much more than anyone would like. “Studies show that the general population has higher rates of arrests than the NFL population for property crimes and public order crimes, but NFL arrest rates for violent crimes are higher than for the general population in six of the fourteen yearly comparisons.”(Leal 2015) With the popularity of the NFL player criminal cases have come front and center.

A picture of violence not only on the field but also off the field has been painted. With the NFL being all about its image and protecting the brand, the commissioner has taken on the responsibility of making sure swift punishment makes players think twice before committing a criminal crime. Rather it is a petty offense or a felony it will affect the brand and that is a problem. As an entity the NFL has widely managed to stay out of the criminal side of things themselves. Though on msn occasions they have been accused of “Fraud.” Many players claim the NFL for many years have purposely hidden information and misrepresented themselves in regards to their knowledge of concussions. If Anne was able to prove this to be true criminal charges could be brought against the global brand.

Falling right in line are Torts. The violation of another person’s rights or a civil wrongdoing that does not rise out of a contract or statute. There are three classifications for Torts with Negligent Torts being what we would call the NFL’s stance on concussions often times. “Negligent torts occur when the defendant acts in a way that subjects others to unreasonable risk of harm.” NFL just agreed to a 1 Billion dollar settlement with former players which will pay them for what they say was then NFL’s blatant disregard to their safety.

There are many different laws which effect business on a daily bases. The NFL happens to be a company which because of its uniqueness feels the effects of them all. This is common for most large companies, the bigger they are the more likely these laws will all come into play. Administrative, Constitutional, Criminal and Tort all play a huge roll in business.


  1. The National Felon League? A comparison of NFL arrests to general population Leal, Wanda Gertz, Marc a Piquero, Alex R. In Journal of Criminal Justice September-October 2015 43(5):397- 403.
  2. The Maurice Clarett Story: A Justice System Failure.Milstein, Alan C. Roger Williams University Law Review; Spring2015, Vol. 20 Issue 2, p216-249, 14p 2015.
  3. Kubasek, N.K., Browne, N. M., Herron, D. J., & Dhooge, L.J. (2016) Dynamic Business Law: The Essentials (3rd ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN-13: 978-0-07-802364-2.
01 April 2020

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