NFL trial opens before all-female jury

June 17, 1992|By Don Pierson | Don Pierson,Chicago Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nine women who spend their Sundays in church instead of football stadiums were chosen yesterday to help decide the future of the NFL as the jury in an antitrust trial.

Judge David S. Doty and the two sides spent four hours selecting the jurors from an all-white panel of 41.

Doty called the all-woman jury "a little unusual."

Avid sports fans and people with strong union ties were weeded out until the nine women were left. One described herself as a six or seven on Doty's "sports fan scale." The others were more casual or not fans at all.

Four of the nine said local churches were organizations most important to them. Another is a Girl Scout leader.

Yesterday the jury heard opening arguments in U.S. 8th District Court in the antitrust case of eight players who are suing the NFL's Plan B system of free agency as unnecessarily restrictive and economically damaging.

"This involves the right to work where you want to work, to work for whom you want to work, and to have your compensation set by the competitive system," said Jim Quinn, attorney for the players.

Frank Rothman, attorney for the owners, defended the free-agent system as a carefully crafted mosaic to preserve competitive balance that has made everyone prosperous.

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