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Friday, February 01, 2008
 
Arlen Specter Kicks His Dog

The New York Times reports that Sen. Arlen Specter wants NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain and justify the league's destruction of the videotapes that the New England Patriots took of opponents' sideline signals, a violation of league rules that resulted in fines and a loss of a draft pick earlier this year. Goodell responded to numerous questions about the tapes and Specter during his pre-Super Bowl press conference today. In The Times story, Specter dropped the line that the underlying conduct is never as important as the cover-up. The basis for congressional interest is, as always, the league's antitrust exemption.

Now, I admittedly do not think much of congressional investigations, not because I do not think oversight is important, but because I think the modern Congress does it so poorly. And I really have no use for congressional investigations of professional sports, which make committee members look petty and uninformed, as well as incompetent. But beyond that, it seems there is a more pressing example of videotape destruction that is far more important in the great scheme of things and far more deserving of congressional attention. But Specter knows that any serious attempt to investigate the destruction of the CIA tapes will run smack into a White House and CIA stonewall and cries of national security, executive privilege, and classified information.

Not to go all pop psych on you, but: Specter is acting as the legislative equivalent of the small, weak kid in the schoolyard being picked on by a bigger, stronger kid and unable to fight back, at least not without getting badly beaten up. So he turns around and finds someone even smaller and weaker who he can beat up--usually the family dog.

Cross-posted at PrawfsBlawg





8 Comments:

I thought that MLB was the only league with an explicit "antitrust exemption." Although there is an "understanding" between Congress and the other pro leagues that the antitrust laws will not be used against the leagues so long as they act reasonably, no other league has the exemption, right?

Anonymous Jeff -- 2/01/2008 4:15 PM  


The NFL has two antitrust exemptions. One permitted the merger of the AFL and NFL in the 1960s, and the other, which applies to all professional sports leagues, allows for the negotiation of single-network broadcast contracts. The latter is the exemption referred to by Specter.

Blogger Skip -- 2/01/2008 6:16 PM  


One sports fan/taxpayer/lawyer would prefer that the senators stop sniffing jockstraps and get back to work.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/01/2008 6:24 PM  


And the Georgia House of Reps. today passed a resolution urging the NCAA to create a playoff system in college football: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2008-02-01-resolution-playoff_N.htm

Congress needs to regulate a team stealing signals from another, and how a collegiate sport determines its national championship???

MIND-BOGGLING.....

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 2/01/2008 6:35 PM  


Howard, unlike you, I am generally a big fan of Congressional investigations in sports. However, as to this particular investigation, we have complete meeting of the minds. Even interventionists have their limits.

Rick, I think it is only a matter of days before Congress starts investigating whether you helped your daughter pick Elmo out of that red mascot lineup last week.

Blogger Marc Edelman -- 2/01/2008 9:34 PM  


Next up on the agenda, investigating the role of WWF referees in world title victory by Andre the Giant over Hulk Hogan in 1988.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/01/2008 9:35 PM  


Videotping signs is not against the law. It's against league rules -- but not against the law. Congress should not be involved. I suspect that Specter is just a disgruntled Eagle's fan who happens to be in a position of power (it's scary that this is how he uses his position). Notice no other government official has ever brought this up. Are there not more pressing things he can be doing with his time. If not, I guess all the world's problems are solved and he's left with this to fret over.

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