Oakland’s lawyers believe DOJ got involved in suit against NFL for political reasons

Mike Florio

The Trump administration is possibly trying to help the NFL. Or, possibly, it’s trying to hurt Oakland.

Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com reports that there’s a belief within the city’s legal team that the Department of Justice has butted in to the antitrust lawsuit challenging the relocation of the Raiders as retaliation against Oakland for Major Libby Schaaf’s criticism of President Trump.

“Oakland is not this particular administration or this president’s favorite city,” an unnamed source close to the city’s legal team told Kaplan. “And the mayor has been outspoken in her criticism of the current administration. But [it] wouldn’t surprise me that that was a factor.”

The DOJ filed a “statement of interest” arguing that Oakland can’t recover lost tax revenues and lease revenues through the antitrust lawsuit. If accepted, the argument wouldn’t kill the case, but it would limit the potential recovery.

“The reason why it’s kind of bizarre is that this little argument they make is really not particularly substantive; it doesn’t get rid of the case,” the unnamed source tells Kaplan. “So you wonder why, other than for political reasons, why would they file something that’s so totally stupid?”

I’m personally more inclined to think — and this is speculation, but when has that ever stopped me? — that it’s not an attack on Oakland but a favor to the NFL, which would further confirm the notion (partly speculation, partly informed) that something significant has happened behind the scenes to dramatically reverse the relationship of antagonism that existed between the President and the NFL.

From complaints about the concussion rules to taking credit for the league’s dramatic dip in ratings to a profane attack at an Alabama rally against players who protest during the playing of the national anthem to relentless criticism of the league’s handling of its anthem policy, President Trump was a major thorn in the league’s side until he suddenly wasn’t, dropping a low-hanging red-meat issue that would have been very easy to keep raising through the mid-term elections, and beyond.

So, yes, something happened. Maybe it was as simple as the public “thank you” from Commissioner Roger Goodell to the President regarding a fairly obscure business issue in Canada.