A quick glance at my clipboard tells me that there is an abundance of “legal stuff” going on in the sports world so let me start with a report on CBSSports.com with this headline:
“NFL concludes that Hue Jackson’s tanking allegations against Browns cannot be substantiated”
Recall that those allegations came on the heels of Brian Flores’ lawsuit regarding racial bias in the hiring processes for NFL coaches. Flores said he was offered $100K per game if the Dolphins lost so as to improve the team’s draft slot. Soon after that was made public, Jackson said that he had experienced the same situation when he was the head coach of the Browns. The NFL then hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation leading to the headline above.
One can easily be skeptical about such a finding; there is no doubt at all that it would be deleterious to the NFL’s interests for such a thing to have happened. Therefore, it would clearly be in the best interests of the people paying for the investigation to find no wrongdoing. If you are of such a mind when you read about the investigation, you will conclude that the following statements by the league and the investigators are included as window dressing:
“The investigation included the full cooperation of the Browns, which included interviews with owner Jimmy Haslam along with current and former members of the organization. The [investigators] did not speak to Jackson, but they had access to his public statements and to his filings and testimony in a prior arbitration proceeding. According to the statement, the Browns produced thousands of pages of documents, including emails, texts, and internal memos along with other material relating to club operations.”
Obviously, I have no way to know if Hue Jackson was telling the truth when he made his allegations and I understand the skepticism some can bring to the conclusion offered here. It smacks of “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” However, as a card-carrying curmudgeon, I am obliged to be an equal-opportunity skeptic. So, let me just throw this out for giggles:
- Hue Jackson had a legal contract with the Browns that set out his compensation as the head coach.
- Hue Jackson also must have had some “outside deals” for things like radio appearances in Cleveland and endorsements for a car wash or a local restaurant.
- Therefore, one might readily calculate his earnings in the years when he was the head coach of the Browns.
Now consider that Jackson’s coaching record in Cleveland was 3-36-1. If indeed he were to have collected even half of what Brian Flores’ says he was offered to tank games in Miami, Jackson would have amassed a nice chunk of change “off the books”. Question:
- Did Jackson report that “off the books” revenue as part of his IRS filing?
In another legal proceeding related to the sports world, Sage Steele has sued ESPN saying that the network abridged her First Amendment rights – – and a state law providing free speech protection – – when it suspended Steele and “under threat of losing her job was forced to issue an apology” for statements she made to Jay Cutler on Cutler’s podcast. I did not hear the podcast and have not been able to find it so that I could listen directly to what she said there, but according to reports her remarks were critical of former President Obama and of COVID vaccination mandates. As is commonplace in the days after such a lawsuit is filed, there are clear and unambiguous statements made by representatives of the plaintiff:
“ESPN violated her free speech rights, retaliated against her, reprimanded her, scapegoated her, allowed the media and her peers to excoriate her and forced her to apologize simply because her personal opinions did not align with Disney’s corporate philosophy of the moment … Sage is standing up to corporate America to ensure employees don’t get their rights trampled on or their opinions silenced.”
I must admit that I do not understand how this is a First Amendment issue. The First Amendment says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In this matter, Congress is not involved – – even indirectly; the alleged source of the “free speech abridgement” is either ESPN – – or Disney Inc which owns ESPN. No matter how many times I read the First Amendment, I cannot see how actions or policies of ESPN/Disney are covered in any way.
I absolutely believe that Sage Steele has the right to her opinion(s) on political figures and on the righteousness of vaccine mandates and that she should never face any legal charges based on her voicing those opinions. What seems to have happened here is that Steele’s employer found her remarks to conflict with the employer’s “policies”. In such a situation, it is not surprising that the employer might take some sort of disciplinary action. I am confused by this one…
Finally, since everything today has dealt with investigations and lawsuits, let me close with a comment on the law by the “Bard of Baltimore” – – H. L. Mencken:
“The penalty for laughing in a courtroom is six months in jail; if it were not for this penalty, the jury would never hear the evidence.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………