David Boies

The new National Football League players’ contract bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

And no one noticed.

In the NFL’s rush to save the season, a nondiscrimination clause was slipped into the final contract. Or maybe it was intentional. But no one was looking for it. No one expected it. And no one noticed it.

No one except Pete Olsen, a third-year law student who writes Wide Rights, which follows gay rights in the sports industry.

How could this have happened? Certainly it wasn’t an important agenda item for either players or owners rushing to save the season and billions of dollars. The blog suggests that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been an LGBT rights supporter and may have had a hand in slipping it in. But the answer also might have to do with the attorneys.

Ted Olson

The attorney for the players was Ted Olson. The attorney for the owners was David Boies. Sound familiar? The two have opposed each other before. Olson represented President George W. Bush and Boies was Vice President Al Gore’s attorney in Bush v. Gore. But they’ve teamed up to represent same-sex couples in California who are battling Proposition 8, which ended marriage equality in that state.

Here’s what might have happened. Whoever wrote up the nondiscrimination clause simply used wording he was accustomed to using and added sexual orientation. After fighting Prop 8 so thoroughly, he probably didn’t think twice about including it. The other may have looked at the new nondiscrimination clause, said to himself, “Yup, that looks right.” End of discussion. Never was mentioned. And a month went by before anyone noticed.