In collecting American FootballLeague memorabilia, my preference is typically for the rare, more obscure pieceas opposed to mass-marketed souvenirs and such. I came across one such item several years ago while perusing theofferings on eBay. I don’t recall theexact title of the item being auctioned, but it referred to the AFL and “courtcase,” which of course, piqued my interest. The item in question turned out to be a judgmentsummary from the early lawsuit between the AFL and NFL.
On October 14, 1960, the AmericanFootball League filed a lawsuit against the NFL in the Maryland District Courts. The AFL charged the NFL with”monopolization, attempted monopolization and conspiracy to monopolizemajor league professional football.”
The owners of the AFL argued that”granting NFL franchises to Dallas and Minneapolis-St. Paul, at the timesand under the circumstances shown by the evidence, and statements made withrespect to a proposed franchise for Houston constituted an exercise of monopolypower, and that those acts were done as part of an attempt or a conspiracy tomonopolize.”
In the formative days of the AFL,once word got out that the new league was being formed, the leadership of theNational Football League attempted to bring immediate and direct competition toparticular AFL franchises by placing expansion NFL teams in the same city assome of the new AFL franchises. It is nomere coincidence that the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys came to be in 1960, the sameyear that the AFL opened its doors. Additionally, the NFL had changed the minds of the ownership group thatwas poised to secure an AFL franchise in Minneapolis-St. Paul. We have discussed that subject in an earlierblog post, and how the Oakland Raiders came about as a result of thatsituation. The idea of placing an NFLfranchise in Houston was discussed as well, but never came to fruition.
On May 21, 1962, the case wasfiled. Chief Judge Thomsen of the U.S.District Court ruled in favor of the defendants (NFL) on all points in thelawsuit, and the AFL was forced to pay appropriate costs.
While this particular piece ofmemorabilia lacks the typical color and flair of most AFL pieces, it remains animportant piece of history, and a unique item to have in my collection. The41-page booklet contains a tremendous synopsis of the early battles between thetwo leagues, making it an outstanding addition to my AFL research library. I have found it to be well-worth the $14.00plus-shipping that it took for me to win that eBay auction.