Inside the Classroom with a Former NFL Executive

Brandt Captivating Course

When it comes to football season, anything can happen. Before the 2019 season kicked off, questions were raised about whether Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown would ever play again because of rules regarding his helmet. He also warned that if he wore the NFL-mandated helmet and suffered a head injury, he’d hold the league liable. Fast forward to conflict with team management, he got kicked out of Oakland, signed with the New England Patriots, played one game for them and subsequently got released by the Patriots and is now unemployed. He has filed grievances with the teams to seek money.

“There will be lawyers.”

That’s Andrew Brandt’s signature tagline you will find on Twitter. Brandt is the Executive Director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at the Charles Widger School of Law and teaches a Sports Law course, focusing on the advanced legal and business aspects of the sports world.

He brings an extremely unique perspective to the classroom. Brandt spent nine years as vice president of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, handling the salary cap, contract negotiations and legal and business affairs for the organization. He also spent time earlier in his career as an agent, representing athletes such as Michael Jordan, Arthur Ashe, Adam Vinatieri and Ricky Williams. To stay current, he regularly offers knowledge and insight on Twitter, hosts his own Business of Sports podcast and writes for Sports Illustrated’s MMQB.

“When I left the Packers and started a new career, I knew I wanted to give back,” Brandt says. “My way of giving back is passing along my knowledge, experience and insights in the sports law and business field to our talented students.”

But it’s not all football. Brandt gives students a comprehensive look at the biggest legal and business issues in the sports industry, including topics on sports betting, player rights, marijuana, collective bargaining, concussions and the role of the player agent.

Sports gambling is currently one of the biggest issues in sports, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling of Christie v NCAA in 2018. As of September 2019, sports betting is legal in 13 states, with legislation pending in six more. Brandt says issues pertaining to privacy, data, intellectual property and health law (biometric data about the athletes) will be key to watch in the coming years.

At any point during this class, any one of these business and legal issues can arise across the sports world, creating an opportunity to have engaging conversations about topics related to the course. It also gives the students a chance to learn from outsiders. In the height of the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick during the 2017 NFL season, Brandt brought in Glenn Bracey, PhD, Villanova University Assistant Professor of Sociology, who studies race and social movements for a discussion about social protests.

 

Brandt has brought in a number of guest speakers to his classroom including Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman; Larissa Boyce, former Michigan State University gymnast and survivor of convicted abuser Larry Nassar; former Philadelphia Eagles and Villanova football running back Westbrook; and, MMQB writer Jenny Vrentas.

Students are seeing the value in the course.

“It’s like watching The Simpsons as a kid,” said Prince Yakubu, a 3L student who previously took Brandt’s class. “Then you go back, re-watch the show as an adult and get an actual understanding and meaning of what is going on. It is no different here. Before, we would see stories on ESPN and kind of brush it off. But after going through this class, we are able to really understand the legal implications and issues happening in the sports world.”

Whether it’s on the field or off, there will be lawyers. And they’re sitting in Brandt’s class.

“For the students, they get an inside look at the business of sports,” he said. “They are engaged in the theory of real-life examples.”

In addition to current event discussions in his class, Brandt and the Moorad Center host an annual sports law symposium in April with national industry experts and former athletes to discuss the issues.

“Captivating Courses” is a feature introducing readers to some of the unique classes offered at Villanova University. Numerous courses across the University’s six schools and colleges provide students the opportunity to examine interesting and relevant topics. These features will give you a glimpse into some of these courses and the experiences they provide students. Find all of the Captivating Courses here.