Michael MacCambridge's 2004 America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation:
In ensuing years, the policy of revenue sharing was viewed by many critics as a monopolistic act of market control. Ron Powers, in his history of television sports, Supertube, wrote that Rozelle "was in fact quietly constructing a perfect model for socialism." But the idea that a joint television deal was inherently socialistic only made sense if one viewed a sports league as purely a business enterprise, and this was to miss a good part of the essence of competitive sports.
"The whole thing was equalizing the competition on the field," said Rozelle. "The sharing of income gave everyone the tools, the money, to compete equally. Now, some don't. But management and coaching and so forth being the big difference -- and players -- they had the opportunity, at least, to compete equally."
Much bluster would come in later years about owners as selfless or devoted to the good of the whole. But in this single case, the decision to share revenue equally -- echoing the one that the AFL made at the behest of [Lamar] Hunt, and the one that the world of baseball ignored despite the entreaties of [Bill] Veeck and [Branch] Rickey -- would become a model for American sports that would allow the games to rise from the Darwinian business model in which each club struggled for the last dollar, toward a system that made the primary competition the one on the field of play.
At heart, the NFL's decision to approve a joint TV contract, whatever the intent, served to place a higher priority on an equality of opportunity for all competitors than on maximizing the revenue of any individual franchise. In short, pro football had established an important tenet about which, forty years later, baseball owners were still bickering.
Tags: Michael MacCambridge, America's Game