It didn’t take long for the Beats vs. Bose war currently erupting on the billion dollar battlefield known as the NFL to claim its first casualty. Earlier this week we wrote about Bose’s recent coup over Beats headphones, ousting the popular brand from the NFL sidelines with a new exclusive contract. Yesterday, star quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, drew the first fine of a whopping $10,000 for wearing his Beats cans in front of cameras at Sunday’s press conference.
The fine was all the more headline worthy since Kaepernick, who has a Beats endorsement deal, was wearing a set of the flashy cans in pink, ostensibly in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Kaepernick wore the headphones during his post game interview, breaking the seemingly absurd contract Bose signed with the NFL, which bars players from wearing any thing besides Bose gear until 90 minutes after a game has ended.
When asked about the fine, and more specifically who would be paying it, Kaepernick had no comment acording to a report by ESPN. But considering Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats and all its wares, you can take a guess who’s covering the check here. It’s odd to think of Tim Cook paying a fine for the flashy QB’s nose thumb at authority, but this is the world we now inhabit in the post-Beats/Apple union. After paying $3 billion for the brand, a 10 grand “I’m sorry” hardly seems out of the question from the Cupertino giant.
The Bose contract, and proceeding fine, seem to further illuminate the outrageously profitable NFL’s relentless quest to put more cash in the coffers, joining similar accounts, such as the NFL’s attempts to get this year’s Super Bowl halftime act to actually pay to play. In many cases, the crackdown attempts drawn by the NFL’s lucrative endorsement deals seem to have backfired. As was mentioned in our previous article, the league’s ban of the iPad from the sidelines for exlusive use of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets resulted in a hilarious flub when the tech-impaired announcers kept referring to Microsoft’s beleaguered devices as iPads.
Perhaps just as hilarious is the “kaching” sound that is no doubt going off in the halls of Apple’s massive compound, as the company gets more free press for its wares, without lifting a finger. For now, Apple seems to be getting the better end of the deal there. But how far will these fines go? Will a second or third attempt land the Beats wearers a fine in the six figures, or even a suspension?
The fine also seems to underline a bigger issue, namely the NFL’s pattern of imperious (and inconsistent) use of authority. With allegations of executive neglect in cases in which marquee players have engaged in domestic violence and child abuse — just the latest scandals for American’s real favorite pass time — it seems odd to take issue with an athlete wearing some pink headphones around his neck.
Then again, the news is no doubt a welcome distraction for the NFL when the organization could really use one. With all the bad press going around recently, some authoritative mandates about electronics gear doesn’t sound so bad.