Fan Sues NFL over 'Economic Discrimination' Involving Playoff Tickets

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IApril 27, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02: A Seattle fan holds a '12th Man' flag during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While the NBA and NHL playoffs are currently taking place, one San Francisco 49ers fan still hasn't forgotten about the pivotal game that ended his favorite team's season.   

John E. Williams of Las Vegas has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the NFL that the league is guilty of "economic discrimination" due to a policy from the Seattle Seahawks limiting credit-card sales to markets that supported the team.

Williams explained his stance on the situation, per Scott Sonner of The Associated Press:

They're always boasting up there about their 12th player and everything else. But by allowing the NFL to decide who can or cannot attend the games, you make it an unfair game. Seattle fixed it. [...]

I live in Las Vegas, but I'm originally from San Francisco. I've seen John Brodie back in the day, and Joe Montana. I really wanted to go up there to see the Niners. I think the tickets should be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, not based on who they want in the crowd.

Here's more information from the lawsuit, which was filed in a US District Court in Las Vegas, per Sonner:

The practice of withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law.

According to the Seahawks' original release from when the ticket sales began, only those living in specific states and provinces were allowed, including Washington, Oregon, Arkansas and Hawaii, but clearly leaving out states like California and Nevada.

Ironically enough, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh actually admitted he respected the decision by the Seahawks to limit the sales, per John Breech of CBS Sports:

Well, it's within the rules. It's within the spirit of the rules of the National Football League. I actually respect it, what you're trying to do for your team, put them in the best possible position to win that you can. And I respect that their organization does that for their team. They do that in a lot of ways, with their team, with their fans, with their organization. So, what do I think of it? I respect it.

With the ticket sales being limited to the small areas that the team chose, the "12th Man" was in full effect as the Seahawks pulled out a huge win, 23-17, and ultimately triumphed in the 2014 Super Bowl.

But like Harbaugh said, the decision was within the rules of the NFL. While it's a long shot for Williams to ultimately win the case, it could eventually lead to a rule change for the league.

Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of communications, said the league has no comment on the lawsuit, per Sonner. The league still hasn't released a statement, but should be expected to as the case is gaining more attention nationally.

At the very least, this situation will raise awareness about this unique scenario as teams look to take advantage of home field.

More information will be added to this story as it comes through and Williams looks to win his case against the NFL.


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