The new issue of CALIFORNIA magazine has a story on Joe Kapp's 8-year legal battle with the National Football League. Here's a brief outtake:
The saga began in 1971, when Kapp was ordered to sign a standard player’s contract at the end of his first season with the Boston Patriots. Kapp’s attorney, John Elliot Cook, advised him not to; the contract was illegal, Cook said, and besides, he already had a valid contract with the Patriots—one Cook had negotiated personally. None of that concerned the NFL. When Kapp, then 33, refused to put his name on the dotted line, he was banished from training camp and, effectively, from the league. Like Curt Flood, the All-Star center fielder who took a similar stand against Major League Baseball, Kapp never played again. In response, he sued the NFL—all 26 teams—on anti-trust grounds.
That, at least, should sound familiar to today’s fans. In the lead-up to the 2011 season, the NFL once again faced an anti-trust suit. This time, the named plaintiffs were three of the league’s top quarterbacks—Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning—and the suit was viewed as a weapon of last resort for the players association, which had to take the extraordinary step of decertifying as a union in order to invoke anti-trust.
In 1974, it was just Joe Kapp, acting on his own behalf: David taking aim at Goliath.