Beats' Jimmy Iovine Slams 'Culturally Inept' Bose Over NFL Deal

Beats by Dre co-founder welcomes inadvertent free advertising after NFL's exclusive deal with rival Bose

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre on the field as the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers in Seattle, Washington on January 19th, 2014. Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/WireImage/Getty

A rift has emerged between the NFL and its players, but it's not because of some new rule or labor disagreement. Instead, the league and the pros are beefing over headphones.

Following the NFL's exclusive contract with Bose to make the speaker company "the official sound of the NFL," the league warned players against wearing rival Beats by Dre headphones while cameras were around. This has led to brazen acts of disobedience by players and Beats spokespersons like Colin Kaepernick and Richard Sherman, who have worn their headphones both in pregame warm-ups and postgame press conferences, resulting in $10,000 fines.

During a recent press conference, Kaepernick conspicuously wore his Beats during a press conference, but with pieces of tape over the headphones' logo, even though Beats' unique design makes them pretty unmistakable.

Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine was asked at University of Southern California's Global Conversation about the players' refusal to ditch Beats, and the record exec revealed that the NFL's exclusive Bose deal has instead resulted in free advertising for his and Dre's headphones. "We didn't do anything, and now the players are going out and putting black tape on our logo," Iovine said (via Business Insider). "It's like, I can't believe I'm this lucky. I feel like sending them the tape."

Iovine also slammed Bose in the process, saying that company helped Beats – which Apple recently purchased for upwards of $3 billion – score cool points over its competitors. "You have a tech company that's culturally inept," Iovine said of Bose. "There's no one at the company that said, 'If you ban these guys, you're going to look bad to the young people, and they're going to look like superheroes even though they’re just pure capitalists — well they're not pure capitalists, but they're real capitalists and [they] sold that company to Apple — but you're going to make them look like the underdog.'"

Last month, Apple denied reports that it would shut down the Beats music streaming service. And while the company didn't specify plans for Beats after announcing the purchase, music-business sources suggested Apple would combine it in some way with iTunes Radio, a service that competes with Pandora, Spotify and others in the $1 billion streaming-music market.