CBSSports.com has a report this morning that the legal fees paid by the parties to Deflategate could be as high as $20M. That estimate does not include the cost of the Wells Report that set much of this in motion; Wells has said that he billed the NFL $2.5M for that report. It also does not include the fees incurred by the Pats when they filed their rebuttal to the Wells Report; that rebuttal ran to 20,000 words so it surely cost more than “3 easy payments of $39.95.” Later this week when the league appeals the decision that set aside Tom Brady’s suspension, the NFLPA will have 9 lawyers in court representing the union. For the full CBSSports.com report, check it out here…
A different legal battle involving an NFL player came to an end recently. WR, DeSean Jackson and agent Drew Rosenhaus had been involved in a tug-of-war over about $500K that an arbitrator said Jackson had to pay to Rosenhaus. Here is the backstory:
Rosenhaus was Jackson’s agent; in 2013 Jackson fired Rosenhaus and hired someone else.
Rosenhaus filed a grievance with the NFLPA saying that Jackson had borrowed $400K from him prior to the firing and that he wanted his money back. An arbitrator ruled in Rosenhaus’ favor.
Jackson went to court to overturn that ruling claiming that Rosenhaus had bribed him to hire Rosenhaus in the first place and that Rosenhaus had not disclosed in that case that he had a prior relationship with the arbitrator. Evidently, Rosenhaus had paid the arbitrator $140K in fees involving a previous arbitration case that did not involve Jackson.
The judge overturned the arbitrator’s decision for legal reasons that I will not pretend to understand fully but it would seem in this case that the “good guy” came out ahead. Jackson does not have to pay Rosenhaus – pending an appeal from Rosenhaus that may or may not happen. However, there was an even more interesting commentary from the judge in this case. Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald noted that the NFLPA – an organization that exists to promote and protect the rights of the players who are its members – uses the same arbitrator in the vast majority of its arbitration cases involving players and agents and that the players lose about 80% of the time.
Maybe the NFL players and the folks who sit on Mahogany Row in the NFLPA office suite had not noticed that correlation prior to this matter. Now that they have a decision from Judge Fitzgerald and those stats – combined with the claims of bribery by an agent to get a player to sign on in the first place and undisclosed transactions between an agent and the most common arbitrator – how long should it take for the players and the union leaders to change the system? Personally, I would think two weeks ought to be about right…
Oh, by the way, when one is confronted by circumstances that demand a fundamental change in the way business is done, inertia and an historical mindset often make the start of the change process difficult. I am not going to try to tell the NFLPA how it should alter its arbitration processes here but I will offer them a suggestion regarding how they may begin the “restructuring process”:
Often, a good place to start is to look at how other organizations handle similar matters. From that sort of examination, the beginnings of a new process can emerge.
Memo to the NFLPA: I suggest you do NOT look to the NFL as a model for how to handle arbitration matters and how to mete out punishments for wrongdoings. If ever there were a set of processes that fit the description of “ineffective while simultaneously inefficient”, the NFL’s processes would the ones.
One more note for the NFLPA on this matter, do NOT look to the NCAA as your role model in this matter either. If you even tempted to do that, consider the following:
In its headlong rush to prove that it is politically correct, the NCAA has spent lots of time and maneuvering to force certain schools to change their names/mascots. One school that had to do so was the University of North Dakota who used to be the Fighting Sioux and are now the Fighting Hawks.
The school and the NCAA had been in court over this matter but settled it all in 2007. Five years later, the people of North Dakota voted to change the school nickname and mascot. Seriously, this was a referendum item in a primary election there.
Here is the stupidity that could only accompany a settlement reached with the NCAA; this sets a new standard for suffering under the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Part of the 2007 agreement requires the University of North Dakota to “retain sole possession” of the “Fighting Sioux” trademark and brand. Clearly, the purpose is to prevent some “rogue alumni group” from glomming onto it and maintaining the presence of the nickname the NCAA finds offensive. Sounds smart, no…?
Well, in order to maintain one’s claim on a trademark, one must – inter alia – use the trademark. So, the university has set up the Dacotah Legacy Collection which makes and sells a small line of t-shirts and hats and various tchotchkes with the “Fighting Sioux” logo on it.
So the school had to manufacture said items that – by definition – the NCAA finds offensive but in addition, the school has to sell them too in order to use the trademark thereby retaining sole possession as per the settlement with the NCAA. Where can you buy the stuff? In the gift shop at the university’s hockey arena – which is usually packed with fans because North Dakota is always one of the nation’s top hockey teams.
So, let me recap here. The University of North Dakota was forced by the NCAA to stop being the Fighting Sioux. To keep possible malcontents from perpetuating the insult of the name and brand, the school was forced to keep the trademark and that demands that the school make and sell openly merchandise that the NCAA forced them to stop making and selling in the first place.
This is so outrageous that I can only come to one conclusion:
If stupid could fly, the NCAA would be a Supersonic Transport.
Finally, since I spoke about a player/agent matter above, consider this comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald regarding another player/agent pronouncement:
“His agent confirmed Marshawn Lynch will retire. ‘No comment,’ said the media.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………