By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The company Barstool Sports and its founder Dave Portnoy are no fans of Roger Goodell and the NFL. The feeling is mutual — though the NFL would rather not acknowledge that.
Now, though, Barstool is in position to earn a victory over the $75 billion sports league regarding what Portnoy deems to be a “clear copyright violation” on the sale of a T-shirt.
The shirts in question were put on sale by the NFL and included team logos with the words, “Sundays Are For The [Team Name].” In the case of the Dallas Cowboys’ shirt, the words were “Sundays Are For The Boys.”
Barstool Sports in recent years has popularized the phrase “Saturdays Are For The Boys,” going so far as to copyright the phrase that the company has emblazoned on countless shirts, flags and other apparel for sale.
Portnoy told TMZ that he was happy to see the NFL commit what he deemed to be a blatant act of copyright infringement.
“We will take legal action. I’d be surprised if we don’t take them down, because they’re totally in the wrong,” Portnoy told TMZ. “They wouldn’t be doing that shirt without ‘Saturdays Are For The Boys.’ It’s a play on that.”
Portnoy, who was arrested along with three Barstool employees for a sit-in protest at NFL headquarters in May of 2015 regarding Tom Brady’s DeflateGate suspension, didn’t hide his satisfaction in being on the right side of this particular story.
“It’s the first time I kind of feel like we have them by the balls, so it will be a nice win when they take them down. They’re definitely going to take those shirts down,” Portnoy said. “I just think it makes them look like idiots. I wasn’t mad. I was like, ‘Oh you guys just stepped into a bear trap. That was stupid.’ We’re always looking for an upper hand vs. the NFL, and this was an easy one.”
As of Wednesday morning, the shirts for most teams were still available for sale on NFL.com. However, a search including “Sundays are for” in the search bar brought up four pages of results, with zero Cowboys shirts for sale. A search for “Hometown Collection Sundays” brought up results with 31 teams — every team except the Cowboys.
It would appear, then, that the Cowboys’ version of the shirt has already been removed. However, an image of the Cowboys’ shirt was still visible on the NFLShop.com homepage Wednesday morning in a link to the big and tall section:
There is a shirt for sale that just says “The Boys” above a Cowboys star logo.
Barstool has sold its own shirts for several years, many of which have bordered on — or crossed the lines of — copyright violations themselves. Barstool’s John Feitelberg, who created the “Saturdays Are For The Boys” phrase, admitted that such is the way of life in T-shirt sales. The NFL’s situation, however, was not going to be ignored by Barstool.
“Almost every single time I tip my cap and chalk it up to the merch game, it’s a brutal, wretched life where feelings aren’t allowed. There’s honor among thieves, there’s no honor among purveyors or t-shirts. That’s OK, that’s the life I signed up for,” wrote Feitelberg, who was among the Barstool employees arrested with Portnoy two years ago. “But this I cannot stand for. I’m not letting this rat [expletive] Roger Goodell pull one over on me. I’m not letting him stand at the podium at the Super Bowl, say he’s never heard of Barstool Sports, then start slinging SAFTB gear in the NFL.com store. That’s [expletive] bulls— and I wouldn’t be a man if I let it slide.”
Barstool’s battles with Goodell go back several years, but what received the most attention was the company’s effort to distribute tens of thousands of towels depicting a clown nose on Goodell’s face for the Patriots’ season opener in September.
Update, 12/21: Portnoy shared on Thursday afternoon that Barstool Sports did send a letter demanding the NFL remove all of the shirts.