From the Associated Press today:
(Washington) The old adage about the perils of watching laws and sausages made seems especially appropriate for antitrust law. Case in point: how the National Football League got its antitrust exemption in 1970, when the old AFL merged with the NFL. At the time, two of Congress’ most powerful leaders were Majority Whip Hale Boggs and Sen. Russell Long, both from Louisiana. With NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle desperate to get the antitrust exemption approved prior to the season opening, he agreed to make New Orleans the first city to get a franchise when the league expanded. That brought the support of Boggs and Long, who were able to attach the exemption to a foreign aid tax bill (no, really). Of course, the effort was not without bumps such as when Long called Rozelle right before the Senate’s floor action to reconfirm that New Orleans would receive the franchise. When Rozelle hesitated, Long allegedly told Rozelle that there would be plenty of time to think this over, as the exemption was no longer going to see Senate action. Sure enough, Rozelle got back to Long later that night with the message: Yes, it’s New Orleans.
There’s more information on this amusing anecdote in Robert Mann’s excellent book on Long, Legacy to Power.