A new contract between the NFL and audio manufacturer Bose specifically forbids players from wearing Beats Electronics headphones.

The league sponsorship means players can still own Beats headphones, they just can’t wear them during NFL games and interviews. The same rules apply to other headphone manufacturers, however, given Beats’ close ties to the NFL, the contract has focused largely on that company’s products.

You may recall that a recent commercial showcased  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick arriving at an opposing team’s stadium, where he was met by the opposing teams loud and obnoxious fans. Instead of paying attention to those fans he dons a pair of Beats by Dre noise-canceling headphones, as the words “Hear What You Want” appear on-screen.

NFL players are not restricted from bringing their Beats headphones to their teams stadiums, they just can’t showcase the headphones when TV cameras are present.

The Bose contract restricts both players and coaches from wearing anything other than Bose gear.

The contract includes all TV interviews conducted during pre-season training camps or practice sessions and on game day. The ban only applies from the time of kickoff through the final whistle to post-game interviews conducted in the locker room or on the podium. 90 minutes after gameplay has ended, NFL players can don whatever headphones they choose.

In a press statement in defense of the deal an NFL spokesman says, “The NFL has longstanding policies that prohibit branded exposure on-field or during interviews unless authorized by the league. These policies date back to the early 1990s and continue today. They are the NFL’s policies – not one of the league’s sponsors, Bose in this case. Bose is not involved in the enforcement of our policies. This is true for others on-field.”

The team at Beats was quick to defend Kaepernick and other players who have integrated the company’s headphones into their pre-game rituals. “Over the last few years athletes have written Beats into their DNA as part of the pre-game ritual,” a Beats spokesperson said. “Music can have a significant positive effect on an athlete’s focus and mental preparedness and has become as important to performance as any other piece of equipment.”

This is not the first time that a headphone manufacturer has attempted to oust its competitors from sporting events. This past summer Sony bought the right to the World Cup soccer tournament. Beats products were banned from all media briefings and match days.

Perhaps paid exclusion by its competitors is the biggest form of flattery for Beats.


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