|Wednesday, March 5
Updated: March 6, 11:11 AM ET
The $3.76 antitrust lawsuit
By Greg Garber
Harvey Myerson, the USFL's flamboyant attorney, claimed to have three "smoking guns" that proved the NFL had conspired to monopolize pro football:
1) A March 2, 1973 memorandum to NFL broadcasting director Robert Cochran from NFL counsel Jay Moyer suggesting that an "open network" might be an "invitation to formation of a new league."
2) An Aug. 4, 1983 memo from Jack Donlan, the NFL Management Council executive director, to his staff insisting that NFL teams should push USFL teams to "increase the salaries of existing players or run the risk of losing them."
3) A plan to "conquer" the USFL presented in February, 1984 to NFL management by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter.
The NFL argued that the USFL was its own worst enemy and had only itself to blame for its financial woes.
Even the testimony of Howard Cosell and Al Davis -- the Raiders owner was excluded from the lawsuit in exchange for his testimony -- failed to save the USFL. On July 29, a jury of six found the NFL guilty of acting as a monopoly, but agreed with the NFL's argument that the USFL had done itself more damage. The jury awarded the USFL a symbolic $1 award, which was trebled according to antitrust law to $3. The total, including interest, came to $3.76. Later, the USFL collected more that $6 million in court costs. By then, it was too late.
Greg Garber is a senior writer at ESPN.com.