Tom Brady, Beats by Dre man. (Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images)

The NFL’s new deal with Bose means that, every time a coach bends over, the top of his headphones clearly carries the company’s logo.

But as dearly as the NFL wants exclusivity for one of its corporate sponsors, players aren’t switching from their preferred means of listening to music, Beats by Dre, even if the NFL fines them.

Tom Brady, who sold his L.A. mansion to Dr. Dre but doesn’t endorse the product, warmed up before Sunday’s game in Buffalo with a discreet set of Beats earbuds. Cam Newton wore a bigger version, in pink because October is breast cancer awareness month, just as he always does in warmups. They may escape fines because they haven’t worn Beats during press conferences and post-game TV interviews. That, under the NFL rules, is a no-no and the league fined San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick $10,000 for wearing them to a postgame presser during a 90-minute window in which players are expected to sport nothing not endorsed by the league.  (This especially goes for Nike apparel over, say, Adidas.) The NFL hasn’t yet extended the fines to pregame warmups, but players are on camera almost as much then as postgame.

As for players, there’s a really good reason to continue to wear the headphones. Their endorsement deals are bigger than $10,000 and the publicity is, ahem, worth more than that to Beats. Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal of his own with Beats, was coy when he was asked whether he’d be reimbursed by the company, which dominates the headphone market. “We’ll just let that be unanswered,” he said.

Instances of civil disobedience are rare among NFL players and it will be interesting to see if players are tacitly or overtly sticking with their ‘phones. Next up: Richard Sherman, another player with a Beats deal, whose Seattle Seahawks game is later Sunday.


Cam Newton and his pregame Beats. (Paul Sancya / AP)