Monday, January 31, 2011

Man This Kid Can Play Basketball

If you watch one online video this week or month or year...this is the one.

Never seen anything like it.

Network Rejects NFLPA "Let Us Play" Ad

CBS has rejected NFLPA's "Let Us Play" ad scheduled to air during the NFLPA All-Star Game this coming Saturday.

Here's the article.

Here's the ad.

Part 4 in A Series Comparing the CBAs: Weird & Quirky Clauses

by Graydon Ebert/Eric Macramalla

Offside has combed through the collective bargaining agreements of the big four leagues to look for interesting and quirky clauses that you might not expect. This is Part 4 in a series of comparing CBAs. In the first 3 parts, we addressed player lunch money, revenue sharing and salary caps. Click here to read these earlier articles.

As for strange and stranger, we found a few provisions. Some real classics, from being fined for indifferent play to hair length to getting your own room. Here's a sample:


• In the standard player contract, players agree that they won’t engage in pro boxing or wrestling. For sake of clarity, this is wrestling outside the ball field; players can of course beat each other up when playing.

• Any player who is required to attend a regularly scheduled military encampment of the Reserve of the Armed Forces or National Guard will continue to get paid by their team during this attendance.

• Teams cannot travel by bus between games if the distance is more than 200 miles. No word on tandem bicycles.

• All players are required to get a single room on the road.

• Despite not making the playoffs, players on each of the 2nd place teams that do not earn a wild card get 1% of the playoff pool money.

• If one player on the team requests it, their team has to provide English as a Second Language course.


• Unlike baseball players, NHL players must have played 10 seasons and 600 games to get a single room on the road. Man that's tough.

• A player cannot be fined for “indifferent” play but can be fined for reporting to training camp overweight. Alexei Yashin meet Alexei Kovalev.

• Players can’t drink on a club flight, in the airport or in their hotel unless allowed by the head coach or GM. The '86 Mets would have had the CBA amended if this was the case in baseball.

• Players must wear jackets, ties and dress pants to all games unless allowed by the head coach or GM.

• Any player traded or waived shall be compensated by the new team for an amount equal to 6 months rent or mortgage for his house/apartment in the city that he left.

• Periodically throughout the year the league must give each team an educational video of on ice incidents that have warranted the imposition of supplementary discipline during the year, either electronically or in VHS format. No word on BETA.


• NBA players traded or waived only get 3 months rent or mortgage if traded or waived, to a max of $4,000 per month.

• The NBA must pay over $400,000 a year to the Players’ Association for its Annual High School Basketball Camp.

• If a player owns or operates a vehicle, he must give his team proof that he possesses a valid driver’s license, registration documents and insurance for the vehicle at the start of the year.

• Teams have to make sure that the hotels they stay at have extra-long beds and that the players’ baggage will be picked up by porters.

• Teams also have to make sure that the temperature in the locker rooms is consistent with temperature on the court. Since when does Jennifer Lopez play in the NBA.

• There is a reason there’s no local games on Christmas Day. All games on Christmas must be televised nationally.

• No-trade clauses are not allowed in the NBA. However, NBA teams can sign a bench player to a $20 million contract.


• Teams cannot discipline a player for hair length or facial hair. If Don Mattingly had played for the New York Giants instead of the Yankees, his sideburns would be safe.

• Teams can fine players, up to twice a week, for being overweight to a maximum of $400 per pound. Would love to be at that weigh in.

• Teams can also fine a player up to $8000 for losing all or part of his playbook, scouting report or game plan. What if a player just can't execute the game plan? Hello Jay Cutler.

• Veterans selected in an expansion draft receive a $30,000 bonus and another $40,000 bonus for being on the Active List after the beginning of the team’s first regular season game.

• Any veteran player traded or claimed has the right to be reimbursed for moving expenses BUT the team actually has the right to pick the moving company.

• Once a player signs his first contract with an NFL team, he cannot be required to take a psychological or personality test. Ricky Williams please take note.

Which is your favourite?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Shaq Visits Harvard; Talks About Managing His Name As Brand

Shaquille O’Neal visited Harvard and talked to students on managing his name as a brand. This was part of a bigger event on the intersection between sports and law.

Read the article here.

LeBron Responsible for Biggest Gain and Drop of Franchise Value in NBA History

According to Forbes, LeBron James is responsible for the biggest gain in team value, with the value of the Heat going up 26% upon his arrival. He's also responsible for biggest drop, with Cavs' worth falling 17%.

Here's an excerpt from the article, which also addresses NBA team values generally:
The average NBA team is now worth $369 million, 1% more than last year. But several of the league’s 30 teams have not fully recovered from the recession, and as a result values are still 2.6% below the $379 million peak average they hit two years ago.

No player in the 64-year history of the National Basketball Association has come close to having the immediate and profound impact that LeBron James had when he bolted the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat this summer. The King’s move accounted for both the biggest gain and drop in team values: the Heat’s worth increased 17%, to $425 million (seventh among the NBA’s 30 teams), and the Cavaliers plummeted 26%, to $355 million (15th).

Jason Bailey/Ducks Lawsuit: Montreal Radio Clip, Sun Media Article, A Copy of the Complaint and Looking at the Case

Jason Bailey's lawsuit against the Ducks, its minor league affiliate and coaches, wherein he alleges anti-Semitism, is getting a lot of attention. This is because we really haven't seen anything like this before. The case has been reported on TMZ, CNN, FOX and NBC to name a few. It was also a featured story on BBC, where hockey isn't exactly big.

Here are links to my on-air radio discussion with Tony Marinaro from the Team 990 in Montreal. We talk about Jason Bailey's lawsuit and where it's likely headed.

Here is a link to Bailey's Complaint as filed in Orange County, California. It sets out his claim:

Below is a link to my interview with Chris Stevenson from Sun Media (Ottawa Sun/Toronto Sun/ We talk about the significance of this case and how it may lend itself to an examination of the issue of tolerance in sports and culture. This is particularly relevant as we approach the one year anniversary of the passing of Brendan Burke.

As for the case, Bailey has alleged discrimination, harassment, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful dismissal.

The first three relate to human rights violations as captured by California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. For example, in the Brett Favre lawsuit filed by the massage therapists, it was alleged that they were the victim of discrimination, harassment and retaliation as per New York State and municipal human rights laws. In order to make out his case, Bailey will need to establish that the coaches indeed made the statements that were alleged and that it resulted in his being discriminated against and losing playing time. In part, this one has potential for Bailey.

Wrongful dismissal may be tough to show. It could be argued by the Ducks that Bailey was not good enough and that's why he was cut. Happens all the time, they would argue. Bailey will argue that he was cut as a result of his religious beliefs. As well, he could argue that as a result of discrimination and retaliation, he never got his chance.

So when it comes to wrongful dismissal and retaliation, which is where the substantial money is in this case, Bailey will need to show a causal link between the conduct of the coaches and his not being given his chance. The Ducks will say that Bailey wasn't cut because he was Jewish; he was cut because he wasn't good enough. So for Bailey, making out the key component of his claim presents challenges.

Here are his minor league stats, which on their face, are not terribly compelling:

Unless we learn more information, intentional infliction of emotional distress may be tough to establish. The statements need to be outrageous and extreme. It's conduct that goes beyond all reasonable bounds of decency, and when a reasonable person hears it, he or she needs to respond with something like "That's outrageous!!!". Courts have repeatedly concluded that insults and indignities fall short of that test. So while the alleged statements are clearly distasteful, they are unlikely to support this particular claim.

One more thing. It is alleged that the Ducks made the 2 coaches apologize in writing to Bailey and these apologies are reproduced in the Complaint. These apologies by themselves will not be considered an admission. However, if they can be shown to be true they will be given some weight. However, the apologies don't equal guilty. As well, the Ducks will say that we had a system in place to deal with these types of incidents, the apologies were made, and on that basis, you should let us off the hook.

I would expect the NHL would apply some pressure on the Ducks to get this case settled (and the Ducks may also want this settled). From a PR standpoint, this case is less than ideal for the NHL, and with everything else on its plates, including a handful of struggling franchises, it may be happy to dispose of this case in the short term - whatever the merits. 

I suspect that even if the case settles, it will remain part of the conversation for some time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Radio Clip: Jason Bailey Lawsuit

Click on the link below to listen to my on-air radio discussion with the Team 1200's Steve Lloyd and Jason York from the Healthy Scratches. We cover Jason Bailey's lawsuit against the Anaheim Ducks, its minor league affiliate and two coaches. Bailey has alleged that he was the victim of anti-semitism. This case has generated a lot of interest quickly. Perhaps it's because we haven't really seen anything like it. I suspect that even if the case settles, it will remain part of the conversation for some time. 

I cover the case in some detail below. Once I get a copy of the Complaint, I will provide more specifics.

Here's the link to the radio clip:

Some More Particulars On Bailey Lawsuit

Here is some more information on the lawsuit:

(a) It was filed on January 25, 2011

(b) It has been assigned Court File No. 30-2011-00443927-CU-WT-CJC and is classified as JASON BAILEY VS. ANAHEIM DUCKS HOCKEY CLUB LLC

(c) The Defendants are identified as Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club LLC, Martin  Raymond, Bakersfield Condors and Mark  Pederson Defendant

Here is a snapshot from the Court's website in Orange County with the information:

Bailey Sues Ducks, Minor League Team & Coaches Alleging Discrimination Based On Anti-Semitism

Former Ottawa 67's and current Binghamton Senators winger Jason Bailey has sued the Ducks, the Bakersfield Condors and coaches Martin Raymond and Mark Pederson in Orange County (California) Superior Court.

The focus of the action is that coaches of Condors subjected him to harassment and anti-Semitic remarks. The lawsuit contends that Bailey was the victim of religious discrimination, harassment based on religion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation. It claims he lost income, benefits and suffered humiliation. Bailey is suing for unspecified damages, which is normal in these types of cases.

While I haven't seen the Complaint yet, expect it to allege violations of the human rights legislation (that's where discrimination/retaliation tie into this), breach of contract, wrongful termination and the tort intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The news of this lawsuit has already hit TMZ and CNN. This is sure to be big news, particularly given the culture of sports and the manner in which players routinely greet each other. If this is not settled, it is possible that it could result in a shift in sensibilities across hockey (or result in a discussion and maybe an NHL statement on the matter).

The Ottawa native has accused members of the ECHL Bakersfield Condors' coaching staff of unleashing a "barrage of anti-Semitic, offensive and degrading verbal attacks" toward him.

It was alleged that Raymond stated that Jewish people "only care about money and who's who" and that he"never wanted his son to be raised Jewish or to wear a yarmulke." It is also alleged that Pederson stated that bailey could not be trusted because "he's Jewish."

Bailey has also alleges that he was forced to travel apart from the team due to his religion.

The Complaint contends that the Ducks asked the coaches to write apologies. Bailey characterized them as insincere.

Pederson allegedly wrote, "I guess I never stopped to think about the impact my statement would have on you or how it would make you feel. It was not intended to insult or hurt in you in any way, but it did, and for that I am truly sorry."

A letter from Raymond states, "As a French-Canadian, I too have come face-to-face with bigotry and understand how such remarks can negatively affect lives." He wrote that he no longer would continue the behavior, according to the lawsuit.

Bailey, who was drafted in 2005 by the Ducks but has not played in the NHL, was rarely given ice time and has alleged he was not provided with resources "that were fully available to the hockey players who were not Jewish".

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Labor Leverage: The NFLPA's Collusion Claim & TV Revenue Complaint

The NFLPA’s recent filing of a collusion claim against the NFL is part of its broader strategy to apply pressure on the league as the sides continue to work on a new CBA. The Union has also filed a complaint regarding the NFL’s television deal.

Things are getting getting a bit intense, with one NFLPA exec telling player reps that they were at "war".

Here are details on the two claims:

1) TV Deal

In June of this year, the NFLPA filed a complaint over the NFL’s television contracts.

The Union's complaint alleges that the NFL structured its contracts with broadcast partners, such as CBS and FOX, to ensure that fees would be paid even if there were no games played in 2011.

Why is this a big deal? In the event that football is not played in 2011, the NFL won’t be sharing television revenue with the players, and in securing a payout for not having a season in 2011, the Union is arguing that the NFL did not seek to maximize revenue in other seasons when the league would need to share that revenue with players. So for the Union, the deal violates an agreement between the parties that the NFL must negotiate in good faith with a view to maximizing revenue for players.

By the way, in the event there is no football in 2011, the NFL will be paid $4 billion by the networks.

2) Collusion Claim

On January 18, the NFLPA also filed a collusion claim against the NFL. The specifics of the claim are not available. However, it has been reported that the thrust of the claim is that owners improperly conspired to restrict player salaries in the offseason, which resulted in a lack of activity in the restricted free agent market.

What is collusion?

In the context of professional sports, collusion refers to two or more teams acting in concert to deprive players of collectively bargained rights.

Collusion has been accounted for in the CBA in Article XXVIII, which is entitled, “Anti-Collusion”. In particular, Section 1 provides that teams can’t agree, be it expressly or impliedly, to undermine contract offers, etc.:
Section 1. Prohibited Conduct: No Club, its employees or agents, shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents, to restrict or limit individual Club decision making as follows:

(a) whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player;

(b) whether to submit or not to submit an Offer Sheet to any Restricted Free Agent;

(c) whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any Unrestricted Free Agent or Undrafted Rookie;

(d) whether to exercise or not to exercise a Right of First Refusal; or

(e) concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to any player for inclusion, or included, in a Player Contract.
Collusion can be tough to show. The fact that contracts are not being offered is not by itself evidence of collusion. In fact, the CBA provides as follows:
The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents… or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts …shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden.
There can be lots of reasons why players aren’t get contract offers, including the economic climate, the needs of teams and the skill of players.

In order to establish collusion, the Union may argue that there was a statistically significant drop in player salaries this past offseason that is not in keeping with general and recognizable trends. If they can find it, they may also point to statements made by teams with respect to keeping salaries down.

The NFLPA may also point to a couple of seemingly inconsequential trades made before the end of training camp. And this ties into the 85% Rule.

The CBA provides that in an uncapped year, teams that cut drafted players must contribute 85% of the player's salary into a pool that will be distributed to rookies who do make the team. However, the contribution must not made if the drafted player is traded to another team and then cut.

At the end of training camp, the Redskins traded Dennis Morris to the Rams for a conditional pick, and the Rams turned around and traded Hall Davis to the Redskins for a conditional pick. Both players were rookies and were cut shortly after the trades (the Skins cutting Davis within 24 hours). The moves saved both teams $272,000. 

The NFLPA would argue that two teams trading away drafted players to each other so they can be cut by the other team to avoid paying money into a rookie pool strongly suggests collusion.

So where do these two claims leave us? The NFLPA is relying on these claims as added leverage in CBA negotiations, which are not going well at this point. However, maybe things are getting worse before getting better.

And that's my guess. With record revenue of $8 billion, a faltering economy and labor fatigue among fans, my guess is that the sides will hammer out a deal ahead of next season.

48 Year Old Herschel Walker Thinking NFL Comeback & Age Discrimination

According to Fanhouse, Herschel Walker is contemplating making a comeback at the age of 48.

"I know I can play," Walker said on a Monday conference call that was intended to promote his Jan. 29 Strikeforce MMA match. "If I continue to stay in the shape I'm in now, I know I can play when I'm 50. Right now, if you asked if I can play today, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind I can play football today, that I can help out a team today.

So could the NFL bar Walker from playing strictly based on his age?

No. The NFL does not have a maximum age for NFL players, and therefore players of any age may play. As well, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids employment discrimination against anyone over the age of 40 years in the United States.

Walker recently said that in February 2010, he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.38 or 4.39.

This would be great to see.

Some good stuff on Walker's training and eating regimen in Jeff Pearlman's book on the Dallas Cowboys, Boys Will Be Boys.

Car Salesman Alleging Fired For Packers Tie

A car salesman in suburban Chicago is alleging he was fired for refusing to remove a Green Bay Packers tie that he wore to work the day after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to advance to the Super Bowl.

Rumour is that the dealership has hired Jay Cutler to replace him.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Offside Named to Top 10 Sports Law Blog by Sports Administration Masters

Thanks to Sports Administration Masters for recognizing Offside: A Sports Law Blog as a top 10 sports law blog, and also ranking it among the top 50 blogs on the net relating to the sports industry.

Now if I could just figure out how to boil an egg without the shell cracking.

Report: Cutler Tore MCL vs. Packers

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Bears QB Jay Cutler suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee during the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

Veteran center Olin Kreutz said he was surprised Cutler stayed in the game as long as he did with the injured knee.

"It was shaking right after he took the hit and walked back into the huddle," Kreutz said. "It was swinging. I knew that one of his ligaments probably went."

Bears fans were burning Cutler's jersey and one newspaper headline read, "Jay Quitler". It's unclear if this news will appease fans. Something tells me they still won't be happy believing that Cutler quit on his team and should have been able to play through the injury.

Other players were tweeting all night on this. Here's a sample:

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew wrote, “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one.”

Former NFL lineman and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth wrote, “As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game!”

Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett wrote, “If I’m on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room!”

Jaguars linebacker Kirk Morrison wrote, “Jay Cutler better go put some Tussin on that knee and get back out there.”

Deion Sanders wrote, “Im telling u in the playoffs u must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro lockerooms this dude comes out! I apologize bear fans! . . . Folks i never question a players injury but i do question a players heart.

Brian Urlacher defended his quarterback's toughness.

“Jay was hurt. I don’t question his toughness, he’s tough as hell,” Urlacher said. “He’s one of the toughest players on our football team. He doesn’t complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays every Sunday, he practices every single day, so no we don’t question his toughness.”

If Urlacher doesn't question Cutler's toughness, I certainly won't.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Peyton Hillis Says Teams Taunted Him For Being White Running Back

Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis told Dan Patrick that he encountered taunting this season because of his skin color. Hills was the first white running back to rush for 1,000 since Craig James in 1985.

"Every team did it," he told Patrick said. "They'll say, 'You white boy, you ain't gonna run on us today. This is ridiculous. Why are you giving offensive linemen the ball?'

"All kinds of stuff like that you hear on the field, but I use that to my advantage. I kind of soaked it in, ate it up a little bit, because I enjoyed it."

The nicknames he was given included "The Avalanche", "White Rhino" and "Chuck Norris".

Hillis doesn't seem bothered by it. Is it still ok? That's a loaded question in light of the historical imbalance from a racial standpoint and the question as to whether there was any malicious intent. We absorb things a lot differently when we think people are trying to be malicious.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Super Bowl: Concession Sales and Movie Ads

Super Movie Ads

Hollywood studios will promote at least 13 movies during Fox's telecast of the Super Bowl, which is a record number. The cost of a 30 second Super Bowl commercial is $3 million. This is according to Variety.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
Among the top titles being pushed ... are summer tentpoles including Par's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Super 8" and Marvel's "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger"; Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"; Universal and DreamWorks' "Cowboys and Aliens"; Sony's "Priest"; and DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda 2," also being released by Par.

...While the annual event may attract a massive viewership, advertising during the Super Bowl "just doesn't move the needle enough" to warrant the steep fees to buy spots, said one Warner Bros. exec. Studio is launching "Green Lantern" and the final "Harry Potter" this summer.

Because the ads have become such a big part of the Super Bowl, some marketers are concerned about the clutter of spots competing for consumers' attention. But for those that still want to cash in on the attention the Super Bowl generates, there's always the pre-game show, which offers up spots at a discount.

Sony is taking advantage of that opportunity this year, with all three of its films to be promoted during the hours that lead up to the Super Bowl. Ads for "Just Go With It" and "Battle: Los Angeles" will air shortly before kickoff, while a "Priest" spot will play earlier, during the pre-game show.
Super Concession Sales

According to Gary Jacobson of the The Dallas Morning News, spending on food and drinks at the Super Bowl could set record. Here's an excerpt from the article:
More money will be spent in one day on food and drink at Arlington’s Super Bowl than ever before in the event’s 45-year history, according to the head of the company handling concessions and catering at Cowboys Stadium.

“We expect to set a record for Super Bowls,” said Mike Rawlings, chief executive of Legends Hospitality. He said this Super Bowl would set records for both per-person spending and total spending.

Rawlings indicated that the single-day, per-capita Super Bowl spending record is slightly less than $50. Legends should exceed that, translating into total food and beverage sales of $5 million or more at the stadium on Super Sunday.
That’s about twice as much as is spent during a regular-season game, said Rawlings, who is also president of Dallas’ Park and Recreation Board.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Will Renault Need To Pack It In?

The revival of Renault F1's historic black and gold paint scheme for its car may be a problem for during the June 12 Canadian Grand Prix, as having a car that looks similar to a cigarette pack may violate tobacco  laws regarding promotion and advertising.

Read the Globe article here.

NFL Complains of Little Progress

The NFL briefed its owners on the status of the contentious labor negotiations on Wednesday advising there has been little if no progress made in reaching a deal by the March 4 expiration of the CBA.

Last week, the NFLPA said the NFL was turning down possible meeting dates.

NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash replied by saying he was easy to contact.

“There is not a lot to be gained by pointing fingers, that is certainly not consistent with my understanding. "I am not very hard to reach. I am like a high school kid, I am always ready for a date.”

The NFL has two more owners' meetings scheduled before the CBA expiration (February 15 and March 1).

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talked once again about the need for communication.

"There is not enough communication. ... This is not going to get resolved through litigation. It will get resolved through negotiation".

If Pash is looking for a date, he may want to hurry things up a bit or be faced with speed dating (and no one likes speed dating).

CFL & Ottawa - Expansion Draft Plan Approved

The CFL announced its plan today for coming back to the nation's capital. It has been a long time coming but the league has a plan in place which will see Ottawa pick players from the league's other 8 teams in an Expansion Draft in December 2012 to start play in 2013. The Expansion Draft will have an Import and Non-Import component. The Ottawa franchise will also have special priorities in the Canadian player entry draft, including 4 picks in the 2012 draft.

No word yet on a team name for Ottawa, although available names include Stampeders, Blue Bombers and Alouettes.

Read the article here.

More Bradley; Crazy Contract Provisions

Milton Bradley’s temper is in the news today as he was arrested in Los Angeles on Monday for allegedly making threats against a woman. Bradley, who has had numerous on and off the field run-ins with managers and umpires, was released on bail and is scheduled to make a court appearance on February 8th.

Jayson Stark of ESPN has put together a list of some of the wackiest contract clauses signed in baseball this off season. This list includes World Series MVP clauses for all of the Pittsburgh Pirates off season acquisitions.

Love this one:

"Jayson Werth isn't the first player in history with a powerful attachment to his uniform number.

Jayson Werth has a special affection for No. 28.

Rickey Henderson once paid Turner Ward $25,000 to get No. 24. Doug Glanville once bought Jimmy Rollins a laptop in exchange for No. 6. And many a Rolex -- not to mention a beverage or 20 -- has changed hands over the years after players switched teams and found their favorite numbers on somebody else's back.

But Werth, baseball's newest $126 million man, might have taken uniform-bartering to a whole new level when he signed with the Nationals this winter:

He went to the trouble of getting his uniform number -- which would be 28, in case you don't have this sort of thing memorized -- written into the contract.

So what's up with that? Ever since he switched to No. 28 (in 2004) from the No. 13 he once wore with Toronto, his teams have gone to the postseason five times, Werth told us. So why would he take any chances on losing his hold on a number with that much winning in it?

For the record, No. 28 was worn last year in Washington by utility man Mike Morse. But he'll now be switching to No. 38. Which might come as news to him …

Unless he's read the small print."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LeBron Is Taking His Talents To Animation

LeBron James is taking his talents to animation.
"He's going to the Internet in a Web-based animated series that will revisit some of his best-known off-the-court performances while featuring socially conscious messages.

The cartoon series, called The LeBrons and planned for a spring debut on its own YouTube channel and James' website,, will revive the characters from a popular series of Nike commercials in which James played four versions of himself: the youthful and wide-eyed Kid LeBron; the physically adept Athlete LeBron; the smooth and savvy Business LeBron; and an ornery elder statesman called Wise LeBron.
The LeBrons, whose first season will consist of 10 episodes of five to six minutes each, will center on the world of 16-year-old Kid LeBron and his life in Akron, using real locations in the city. Each episode will convey a message — the value of staying in school, staying off drugs or sticking by your family."
No word yet if LeBron has complained he won't win best actor in an animated series because the cast is too good.

Read full article here.

More Texting; Goodell Says Need More Communication

More Texting

According to, Stephanie Dusenbe, a massage therapist, is alleging she received lewd advances from Viking players including Brett Favre.


With respect to the NFL/NFLPA labor negotiations, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday there needs to be more meaningful discussions with the NFLPA.

“There’s not enough communication,” Goodell said. “We need to get to productive negotiations.”

The last negotiations were held before Thanksgiving. Goodell said they need to meet regularly.

“There’s a very clear understanding if there’s a work stoppage of any kind, it hurts everybody.   It hurts the clubs, it hurts players, it’ll hurt the game, and most importantly it’ll hurt our fans,”  Goodell said.

You might remember that the NFLPA was hopping mad late last week when legal counsel for the NFL Batterman said that the NFLPA wants to be locked out by the owners. The reasoning on the part of Batterman was that the lockout would provide the NFLPA the opportunity to decertify (i.e., kill the union), which in turn would allow individual players to sue the NFL for antitrust violations. Right now the NFL is insulated from these claims because the violations are in the CBA, and labor law trumps antitrust law. Once you blow up the union, the CBA can't protect the NFL.

While there has certainly been some posturing by both sides, there are some real issues dividing the sides, including readjusting the revenue sharing model to favour the owners, a rollback on salaries and a rookie cap.

Ex-Marine Barred From Participation in UFC Fighting Based On Disability

Nick Prindell, an ex-Marine, has been barred from fighting by the UFC on the basis of his disability. This type of exclusion could well give rise to a human rights claim based on discrimination. Just doesn't seem right. Watch the report here:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Devils Reward Honor Roll Students

The New Jersey Devils are rewarding 3500 local honor roll students with free tickets to a game.

Those students who go to the game will be removed from the honor roll.

McDonald’s Inks Extension with NHL; Prepares for Hockey Day in America

McDonald’s has finalized a 1 year extension with the NHL to as the league’s American quick-service restaurant through the end of the 2010-11 season. Under the deal, McDonald's will be the title sponsor of NBC’s inaugural “Hockey Day in America” on February 20, which will have 4 games over six hours.

The Hockey Day in America is similar to CBC's Hockey Day In Canada, where the Canadian broadcaster features all 6 Canadian hockey teams playing on the same day.

NBC’s programming block for “Hockey Day in America” starts at noon with three staggered regional games between the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild. The national coverage continues at 3:30 p.m. with a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Reports: Favre Files Retirement Papers

According to reports, Brett Favre has filed his retirement papers. Will advise when he unfiles.

Read article here.

FTC Looking Into Helmet Claim

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into potentially misleading and deceptive trade practices by the football helmet manufacturer Riddell. Riddell is the official helmet manufacturer of the NFL.

According to the Associated Press, there is concern over statements on Riddell's website where the say that that research shows a "31 percent reduction in the risk of concussion in players wearing a Riddell Revolution football helmet when compared to traditional helmets."

According to United States Senator Tom Udall, who requested the investigation, there is little evidence supporting Riddell's safety claims. Riddell called the allegations unfounded and unfair, and welcomes the review.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Radio Clip: Afternoon Show - Talking NFL Labor

Listen to my discussion with Steve and AJ from the Healthy Scratches. We talk NFL labor and the show Full House.

Listen to the clip here.

Jags WR Ernest Wilford Arrested

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Ernest Wilford was arrested and tased for trespassing and resisting arrest without violence after police said he was creating a disturbance and refused to leave a Jacksonville Beach bar according to 
According to the police report, Wilford inappropriately touched at least two women at about 1 a.m. Two Jacksonville Beach police officers who were called reported that Wilford refused to leave, telling them, "I'm not going anywhere." 
Wilford re-signed with the Jaguars on August 25, 2009. On May 21, 2010, Wilford cut his hair which had been growing for over six years in recognition of Jacksonville's Wolfson Children's Hospital cancer unit, as a donation.
Wilford was released on September 4, 2010. On Thursday September 16, 2010 the Jaguars re-signed Wilford back to the 53 man roster stating that he was a veteran who was familiar with the system and could contribute on special teams.

Radio Clip: NFL Labor Woes and Decertification/Antitrust Laws

Today, I was on Sportscall with Lee Versage and Phil Melanson (I mistakenly called Phil by his colleague's name A.J. - sorry Phil).

I covered the issues the NFL cares about in these labor negotiations, and how on earth decertification and antitrust  apply to the labor negotiations.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Selig Optimistic Over Looming Labor Talks

With MLB's labor deal expiring on December 11, Commissioner Bud Selig said that Major League Baseball is optimistic about the labor talks. Preliminary discussions between the two sides will begin in a few weeks, said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations and its chief negotiator.

The article was released on MLB.COM. The timing is interesting in light of the NFLPA today complaining that the NFL is dead wrong when they suggested the players want a lockout.

Topics on the table will include the First-Year Player Draft, instant replay and the playoff system.

Baseball is enjoying a period of unprecedented prosperity and growth.

Selig said he's been closely watching what's transpiring in the other sports and is pleased that baseball's labor situation has been so quiet in comparison.

"There's no question that nobody could've believed -- starting with me -- that we'd have 16 years of labor peace in a sport that had eight work stoppages," he said. "That's really remarkable."

Read the MLB article here.

Reports: Leafs Wilson Will Be Fined For Circumvention of CBA

Toronto Maple Leafs Coach Ron Wilson has been by the NHL after he reportedly offered his players an undisclosed amount of cash before the game as an incentive to beat the San Jose Sharks.

Why was he fined?

Because offering players money for a win constitutes a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Specifically, Wilson’s contravened Section 26.3(g), which provides as follows:
(g) Neither a Club nor a Club Actor may pay or provide a Player anything of value, except as provided in his SPC, and such payment must not be in a form other than U.S. dollars, except as expressly provided in Section 50.2(a) of this Agreement (regarding Traditional Hockey Practices). Upon a finding of this Circumvention by the System Arbitrator, the Player shall forfeit to the League such prohibited payment or other thing of value.
Wilson also contravened Section 50.2(a) of the CBA, which provides as follows:
50.2 Player Salary, Bonuses and Actual Club Salary.

(a) "Player Salary." The only allowable form of compensation permitted to be paid to a Player shall be Player Salary, as set forth in this paragraph (a), and Bonuses, as set forth in paragraph (b) below. No other type of compensation, in any form (except only for "Traditional Hockey Practices" as set forth below), shall be permitted to be provided to any Player. So paying Leaf players money for beating the Sharks is a circumvention of the CBA.
Under the CBA, penalties include the forfeiture of draft picks and fines. Lucky the NHL didn't make the Leafs forfeit their first overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Actually wait a minute...

If giving Leaf players lunch money to get them to win a game does the trick, maybe circumventing the CBA should become part of the Leafs overall strategy.

Lawrence Taylor to plead guilty

According to ESPN, Lawrence Taylor is expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges in court Thursday, stemming from a May 6 arrest for felony statutory rape.

NLFPA Conference Call - LIVE TWEETS

I was on the NFLPA conference call today. The call was in part a reaction to the NFL saying that the players want a lockout. To that the PA said those claims come "from outer space".

To review my live tweets capturing the key comments from the call please go to!/EricOnSportsLaw.

Bottom line - PA sees "financial information gap", wants the NFL to open its books, isn't too happy with aggressive approach by Batterman (NFL lawyer) and won't consider options such as decertification/antitrust lawsuits until locked out by owners.

QB Favre's Sister Among 5 Arrested

QB Brett Favre's sister faces drug charges after she was arrested Wednesday in a raid on a Mississippi condominium where people were making crystal methamphetamine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Possible" Unnamed Therapist May Join Suit Against Favre

According to ProFootballTalk, it is possible that the unnamed therapist that Brett Favre texted may join the lawsuit as a plaintiff. Favre only texted the unnamed therapist and did not text either plaintiff directly (although he mentioned one plaintiff in a text).

Here is a passage from the article:
Lawyer David Jaraslowicz, who represents Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole, said during a Wednesday appearance on ProFootballTalk Live that the unnamed massage therapist to whom the alleged advances were directly made could be joining the lawsuit.

“As a matter of fact, I’ve been contacted by her,” Jaraslowicz said, “but I’m not free to give any information at this point.”

“So what you’re saying is it’s possible she’ll be joining the lawsuit at some point in the future?” said the Internet hack who hosts the show.

“Possible,” Jaraslowicz said.
There is a short video clip of the interview. The lawyer for the plaintiffs indicates he was contacted by the unnamed therapist and that it's possible she could join the suit. It's not clear whether "possible" means "likely" at this point, or if this is designed to apply  pressure on the defendants to settle.

NFL Outlook Far From Bleak - SportsMoney

In his article, More Numbers Show Labor Issue in NFL Far From Cut and Dry, Maury Brown wrote this week that the NFL's economic outlook doesn't look bad:
The ... economic outlook for the league is far from abysmal. Revenues are growing, television deals with astronomical amounts associated to them continue to be reached, viewership is at an all-time high, and franchise values continue to increase.

It’s hardly the sign of a “distressed” industry.
Read the full article here.

Forbes: Sanchez, Others Stand To Lose Millions in NFL Lockout

A good article by Chris Wolan of In the article, NFL Players With The Most To Lose In A Lockout, he lists which players stand to lose the most money if there is an NFL lockout.

Noteworthy names on the list: Mark Sanchez at #3 ($13.5 million), Reggie Bush at #4 ($11.8 million), Big Ben at $5 ($11.6 million) and Adrian Peterson at #9 ($10.7 million).

Big Ben may have to return that engagement ring.

F. Lee Bailey Says He Can Prove OJ Was Innocent

Evidence of O.J. Simpson's innocence was held back in the 1995 trial in which he was acquitted in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles, one of his former lawyers, F. Lee Bailey, says in a new document.

Read the article here:

On the flip side, Mark Fuhrman says a lot of good evidence was ignored:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Favre Lawsuit Has Some Issues

(It's a must read - it's pretty colorful).

As you have now heard, licensed massage therapists Ms. Christina Scavo and Ms. Shannon O’Toole, have sued quarterback Brett Favre, the New York Jets and Lisa Ripi, the person who allegedly coordinates massages for the Jets, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The Plaintiffs allege they were the victims of sexual harassment and job discrimination. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages from Favre, the Jets and Ripi, alleging they lost their part-time jobs after complaining about sexually suggestive text messages from Favre while he was with the Jets in 2008.


The Plaintiffs have alleged that sometime during the Jets 2008 training camp, Favre sent another unidentified massage therapist text messages indicating he wanted to “get together” with the therapist and Scavo: "Brett here you and crissy want to get together im all alone".

After that, Favre sent another message to the same unnamed massage therapist, stating, "Kinda lonely tonight I guess I have bad intentions."

According to the Complaint, Scavo then brought the messages to her husband's attention, who in turn contacted Favre “and requested that he stop soliciting his wife.” Favre “responded in an inappropriate manner and refused to apologize or take any other action.”

Shortly thereafter, “the plaintiffs Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole were never again called to provide massage therapy for the Jets".

The lawsuit does not directly accuse Favre of soliciting or having any inappropriate contact with O’Toole, who also worked as massage therapist for the Jets, but according to the lawsuit’s second cause of action, “O’Toole was terminated because she had been associated with plaintiff Scavo and brought Scavo into the Jets organization as a massage therapist.”

After the allegations about Favre and the masseuses surfaced on, Ripi sent Scavo emails criticizing Scavo for not having keeping the matter quiet. Meanwhile, Ripi told O'Toole to "keep your mouth shut" and declared that neither O'Toole nor Scavo would work for the team again.

What Laws Were Allegedly Broken

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating New York State and municipal huma rights laws. Specifically, Favre is accused of violating §296 of the Human Rights Law of the State of  New York, which prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their gender when it comes to terms of compensation or employment.

Quoting from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, New York State interprets “sexual harassment” as a type of discrimination outlawed by this provision:
Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination. Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes unlawful sexual harassment when:

• Granting sexual favors is used as the basis for employment decisions or as a requirement to keep your job

• Such conduct unreasonably interferes with job performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment
The Human Rights Law also provides that employers are prohibited from “retaliating” or “discriminating” against a person who complains about a violation.

The Plaintiffs Scavo and O’Toole have alleged that they were no longer called upon to provide massage therapy at the Jets training camp and accuse Favre, the Jets and Ripi of retaliation and discrimination.

The lawsuit also claims the Jets and Ripi are liable under New York Human Rights Law because Scavo and O’Toole “were discriminated against…and the Jets refused to take any action to permit plaintiffs to work as massage therapists as they had in the past before the incident with the defendant Favre.” The Plaintiffs added that the Jets "aided and abetted the discriminatory practice because the plaintiffs objected to a hostile work environment, and the Jets retaliated when plaintiff Scavo reported the harassment to her husband who in turn called defendant Favre". The Jets retaliation is also in violation of the human rights laws. As far as Ripi, the Plaintiffs argue that she deprived them of employment and also engaged in retaliation. The lawsuit also alleges that Favre engaged in retaliation.

Early Views on the Case

From a preliminary standpioint at least, this seems like a challenging case for the plaintiffs. However, much does turn on the evidence. Still, there are issues right off the bat.

The first issue revolves around the strength of the sexual harassment allegations. In order to establish sexual harassment, the plaintiffs will need to show that Favre engaged in a pattern of unwelcome sexual advances. The behavior needs to be pervasive and offensive.

It will be argued by Favre that he only sent two text messages, that he was only flirting and that he stopped when contacted by Scavo's husband. As well, it will be argued that Favre did not send the text messages to either plaintiff, but rather to the unnamed therapist who is not a party to the lawsuit. In fact, O'Toole is not making a claim for sexual harasment.

The lawsuit also alleges that Favre engaged in retaliation, even though he was not the employer and the lawsuit does not allege any direct act taken by Favre to terminate Scavo and O’Toole’s relationship with the Jets. In this regard, the legislation provides that employers can't retaliate; Favre was not an employer at the time but rather an employee of the Jets.

The plaintiffs may be able to get some traction on the retaliation charges particularly against Ripi. However, they will need to establish a link between not getting called back to work and the incidents that transpired in 2008. That is never easy.

Finally, there is the issue of how much money can the plaintiffs get even if they are successful. The plaintiffs were massage therapists so if they can make out their case, they are unlikely to be awarded a significant sum of money. When determing an award of damages, lost revenue will be an important consideration.

While the case has some issues, the plaintiffs may be betting that Favre and the Jets (and particularly Favre) would rather settle than be faced with potentially embarrassing evidence coming out.

Net Worth of Athletes

Check out this website which provides the net worth of athletes:

I'm guessing Valeri Bure's net worth is tied to Candace Cameron. Looking forward to a reboot of the Full House Franchise. I'm seeing Jim Mora as the new Danny Tanner.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Elgin Baylor’s Wrongful Termination Claim Against Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

ESPN's J.A. Adande has written an article on Elgin Baylor’s wrongful termination suit against the Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

As reported by Adande, declarations from Baylor, the Clippers’ former GM, and Mike Dunleavy, the coach who took over Baylor’s GM duties before Dunleavy lost both jobs, were included in Baylor’s response to the Clippers’ motions for summary judgment. If you think a case is frivolous and completely without merit, you can move for summary judgement with a view to getting the case prematurely terminated.

Adande reports hat Sterling didn't like to spend money to keep players (not a big surprise given that "Clippers" is Latin for "irrelevant"). However, Baylor took it a step further, making it a racial issue: 
"Because of the Clippers unwillingness to fairly compensate African-American players we lost a lot of good talent, including Danny Manning, Charles Smith, Michael Cage, Ron Harper, Dominique Wilkins, [Corey] Maggette and others," Baylor said.
Adande continues his report,
Baylor, who describes himself as "an African-American male over the age of 40" in the declaration (the NBA Register lists his date of birth as Sept. 16, 1934), said that Sterling and Clippers president Andy Roeser made references to his age for the last 10 years of his employment and questioned his ability to still do his job.

Dunleavy referenced similar comments about Baylor’s age from the Clippers’ upper management, but Dunleavy stated, "The entire time that I worked for the Clippers, I never saw any change in Elgin’s ability to perform his duties, or that his age had any adverse impact on the performance of his duties and responsibilities as general manager."
Baylor's declaration also states that the owner would bring female reporters into the dressing room to watch the men shower:
"While ignoring my suggestions and isolating me from decisions customarily reserved for general managers, the Clippers attempted to place the blame for the team’s failures on me," Baylor said in the declaration. "During this same period, players Sam Cassell, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette complained to me that DONALD STERLING would bring women into the locker room after games, while the players were showering, and make comments such as, 'Look at those beautiful black bodies.' I brought this to Sterling’s attention, but he continued to bring women into the locker room."

Nike & Oregon Ducks

Interesting article on University of Oregon backer Phil Knight who also happens to own Nike:

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Here's my big question for 2011: With NFL, NBA and MLB labor deals expiring this year, will fans suffer from labor fatigue?

With jobs continuing to be in short supply in a struggling economy fans may not be in a forgiving mood.

Big question part 2: Will the Kardashian brand continue to be overexposed in 2011?

New Year Quick Hits: Around The Web in 80 Seconds

Thank you to the Clawbies for nominating Offside as one of the best new legal Canadian blogs.

Happy New Year to all. May the new year bring us labor peace, quiet free agent signings and players behaving nicely. Of course that won't happen.

Here are some quick hits in the field of business and sports.

Keeping it Sirius: Sirius XM and and the NFL have announced a 5 year extension of their satellite broadcasting and marketing agreement through to the 2016 Super Bowl.

QB To Pitch: Pats QB Tom Brady is endorsing Deckers Outdoor's UGG brand for men. He starts as a pitchman with the Fall 2011 collection and will also consult on ideas for future seasonal collections. Decker is looking to break into the North American market, with their UGG footwear being purchased primarily by women.

Nice Pad: The New Jersey Devils have spent well into the six figures to equip the Prudential Center with 20 iPads so fans can stay connected with friends while at a game. For $20, fans can rent the iPad. The iPads are part of a larger digital command center featuring six desktops and six 50 inch HD televisions. No word if these most recent purchases constitute a circumvention of the CBA.

To Attend Or Not To Attend: The Canadiens, Hawks and Flyers lead the NHL in overall attendance. The Predators, Coyotes and Kings have seen the biggest gain in attendance over last season, while the Stars, Jackets and Isles have seen the biggest declines. The Stars are playing good hockey so that's unfortunate. The Isles at just a hair of 10,000 have the lowest average attendance.

The LA Bills?: Steven Brady, investment banker and Bills fan, has suggested that to keep the Bills in Buffalo fans should loan money to the next owner by buying low-interest bonds that would end up reducing the new owner's interest payments. While owner Ralph Wilson has said he intends to keep the team in Buffalo, uncertainty exists once the team changes ownership. See Brady's site at

Brick By Brick: Comcast-Spectacor is selling bricks from Spectrum, the old home of the Flyers. For $39.95, fans can get an authenticated brick sitting on a wood base. For an extra $60, fans can get punched in the face by Dave Schultz.