Eric E. Bell


The purpose of this article is to offer guidance to courts and attorneys faced with the issue of determining the point in time that the non-statutory labor exemption terminates in the context of NFL labor relations and to propose a system of free agency which might ease this conflict between the League and players. To that end, this article begins by exploring the history of player relations in the NFL, the development of the Union and the subsequent collective bargaining agreements between the Players Association and the League. This is followed by an in-depth analysis of Powell v. NFL and a discussion of the policies of Labor Law and Antitrust Law in the context of professional football. This discussion focuses on the crucial question of the appropriate point in time for the non-statutory labor exemption to expire, allowing the players to seek antitrust relief. Finally, this article will culminate in the proposal of an alternative system of free agency as it might be implemented in a future collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the collective bargaining representative of the players.