The North U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against Joe Kapp, former Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots quarterback Monday, in his contention that he should not have been required to sign a standard National Football League contract as a prerequisite to playing.
On April 2, 1976, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the NFL. This ruling was appealed. Kapp now may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The contract Kapp refused to sign with the Patriots in 1970 would have totaled $400,000. In addition he would have been paid another $400,000, or an aggregate of $200,000 for serving in a public relations capacity under the same payment schedule as his football earnings.
Payments for both services were guaranteed in the event he had been incapacitated at any time from a cause directly related to his work for the Patriots.
After playing out the option year of his contract with the Vikings in 1969 and leading them to the 1970 Super Bowl, Kapp joined the Patriots in October 1970.
He played in 1970 under a memo agreement he signed. He said he collected $154,165 after joining the Patiorts early that season, but he was not permitted to play in 1971 because he would not sign the so-called standard player contract.
In March 1972 Kapp sued the Patriots, the NFL, all its member teams, Jim Finks (then general manager of the Vikings) and Rozelle. The suit also named Max Winter, Vikings president, and board member Max Ridder.
The suit charged the NFL breached Kapp's agreement with the Patriots by conspiring to violate antitrust laws. It cited the option clause, the common draft, the Rozelle Rule (or compensation klause) and the standard player contract as constituting a monopoly.
Kapp could have sought a restraining order that would have allowed him to play and collect on his agreement with the Patriots, pending decisions by the courts on his suit.
However, that would have cost him the opportunity to say 'he was forced out of his football livelihood of Rozelle's demand that he sign a contract.
Since treble damages frequently are awarded in antitrust cases, Kapp stood to collect three times his salary for the years in question. He would not have been awarded traded damages if he had played and collected on his contract.