A National Football League spokesman yesterday denied charges made Wednesday by Al Davis, managing general partner of the Los Angeles Raiders, that the St. Louis Cardinals' lawsuit against the NFL and Commissioner Pete Rozelle was done "in concert with the league to intimidate congress and federal judges across the country" in antitrust cases.
"The Cardinals' decision to file the suit was their own decision, made completely independent of the league, by them and their attorneys," said Joe Browne, the NFL's director of communications. "I can only deny Davis' charges of collusion in the strongest possible manner.
"[Cardinals Owner] Bill Bidwill and his attorneys were in the league office on Tuesday and they told us that day, for the first time, that they were bringing the suit later that day," Browne said. "Rozelle and our attorneys tried to dissuade them. Mr. Bidwill and his attorneys said they had no choice, that they were under pressure from their stadium landlord in St. Louis and that, indeed, they were going to file the suit that afternoon."
When contacted Wednesday for a response to Davis' charges, Browne deferred comment to one of the league's attorneys, Paul Tagliabue, who, an hour earlier, had said, "That's an off-the-wall idea and completely untrue."
The Cardinals filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York claiming that a section of the league constitution and bylaws, requiring a three-quarters vote by teams to approve a franchise shift, violates federal antitrust laws. Bidwill has said he has considered moving the team from St. Louis.