By: Danny Jacobs
Bryant McKinnie, left, with teammates Michael Oher and Marshall Yanda. (Mitch Stringer/US Presswire)
It’s been a rough few weeks for Baltimore Ravens’ offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie.
Last month, there was the “Sweet Pea” incident. Last week, he lost his starting left tackle position.
Now, his former agent is trying to get McKinnie to pay a $35,000 judgement.
Drew Rosenhaus, who represents more than 100 NFL players, originally filed suit against McKinnie in February in Miami. The lawsuit sought more than $85,000 “that was unpaid toward a nearly $120,000 settlement agreement that resolved a prior dispute,” according to the Miami Herald.
A default judgment against McKinnie was entered in July in Miami for $35,000, according to court records. On Tuesday, a request for enrollment of a foreign judgment was entered in Baltimore City Circuit Court, meaning Rosenhaus wants the Baltimore court to be able to collect from McKinnie.
Rosenhaus is represented locally by Nat N. Polito, a Washington, D.C. lawyer.
By: Steve Lash
Welcome to the morning after. I hope you enjoyed the game.
Here are some news items to assist in the recovery.
– Supreme Court justice and best-selling author Sonia Sotomayor’s book tour hits New York.
– The California city of Bell encounters legal hell.
– Civil rights attorneys challenge police surveillance of Muslim communities.
– Man’s murder had malty motive.
By: Steve Lash
Welcome to the final Monday of January. Here are some news items to get your week before the big game started.
– Military lawyer clashes with Obama administration over breadth of war crimes.
– Muslim students file First Amendment appeal in California.
– Wall Street receives advice on dealing with the Justice Department.
– Another “M” state debates the death penalty.
By: Steve Lash
Welcome to Monday and the start of the Ravens’ season. But before the (football) birds battle the Bengals, here are some items to discuss while you tailgate.
– Do homeless people have a reasonable expectation of privacy?
– Did a defense attorney for O.J. Simpson tamper with the “bloody glove“?
– Should a female golfer be permitted to play on the boys’ team?
– May the survivors of an alleged massacre by a paramilitary group sue the leader of the nation where the killings occurred?
By: Andy Marso
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Marvin J. Garbis gave no indication whether he would allow Ravens’ “Flying B” logo designer Frederick E. Bouchat to add the makers of the Madden NFL 11 video game to his copyright infringement suit against the team and the NFL in a hearing Tuesday.
But Garbis, a lifelong Baltimorean and football fan, did display solid knowledge of Ravens’ history, except for one minor slip-up.
The hearing also focused on the use of Bouchat’s logo in Ravens’ highlights films from 1996-1998 and whether the NFL can continue to sell the films without compensating Bouchat.
Garbis, born in Baltimore in 1936 and a graduate of Johns Hopkins according to his bio, pointed out that the focus of the films ”is not to show the logo. It’s to show Ray Lewis.”
Touchdown for Garbis on that one. Lewis was one of the original Ravens after the team took him and Jonathan Ogden in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft (pretty savvy selecting by the front office). Lewis led the team in tackles as a rookie in 1996 and made the Pro Bowl in 1997 and 1998, so he certainly would have been a focus of the highlight films in question.
The NFL’s attorneys argued that the market for the films at this point is minimal and Garbis seemed to agree, saying they’d only appeal to people who “wanted to relive the good old days. Which for us were actually the bad old days.”
Read the rest of this entry »
By: Danny Jacobs
Ravens fans who enjoy reading the tea leaves from off-season workouts lost their last chance to do so.
The NFL has canceled the final of the Ravens’ scheduled off-season workouts for rules violations. Special teams players were supposed to work out June 15-16.
But the league and NFL Players Association determined the Ravens violated rules “concerning the intensity and tempo of drills conducted” and the “length of time spent by players at the club’s facility” during the workouts.
The punishment was based on an unknown source’s complaint to the NFL Players’ Association, a fact that is both interesting and potentially worrying. (Off-season turmoil? Team unity threatened by a rogue individual? We know where this can lead.) Read the rest of this entry »
By: Danny Jacobs
After spending a long weekend in New Orleans, I discovered firsthand the locals really love their food, their drink and, much to my delight, their seersucker (pre-Memorial Day, natch). But that town really, really loves its football team, the New Orleans Saints.
I know there are rabid football fan bases all across the country, including right here in Baltimore. But the connection feels deeper in New Orleans. A lot of it is because the team is forever intertwined with Hurricane Katrina, and some of it has to do with the team winning the Super Bowl in February. But I got the feeling that even if the fleur-de-lis was not named the state symbol two years ago, the Saints logo might still have been emblazoned on the side of every city trash can.
I bring this up to point out a class-action lawsuit set to be heard this week in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. More than 2,100 plaintiffs are suing a Chinese drywall manufacturer for product defects causing both structural damage and health problems. The lead plaintiff? Sean Payton, the Saints’ head coach.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King noted the hearing yesterday in his Monday Morning Quarterback Column. “Heck of a choice for lead plaintiff,” King wrote under a “Home-Court Advantage Dept.” heading. “Sounds like kicking off in a football game with a 21-0 lead.”
To that, I would add: good luck, defense, finding impartial jurors. And I wish I had thought of a way to convince my editors I needed to cover the proceedings.
By: Danny Jacobs
The U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow will hear arguments in American Needle v. NFL, a case ostensibly about who gets to make officially-licensed team hats.
But the underlying issue — whether the NFL and other sports leagues should be considered one business or multiple, privately-owned ones — could have a dramatic effect on professional sports. Only Major League Baseball now has an antitrust exemption.
Sports business and law observers have been weighing in on the case, but the commentary I found most surprising and compelling was by Drew Brees in Sunday’s Washington Post.
Surprising because Brees is the All-Pro quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and he has a playoff game this weekend. (Granted, Brees was off last week, but most sports fans like to believe the players on our team are concentrating only on the next game; imagine Joe Flacco writing an op-ed about the health care debate as he prepared to play the Patriots.)
Brees, a member of the NFL Players’ Association Executive Committee, argues granting the NFL an antitrust exemption “would enable owners to exert total control over this multibillion-dollar business.” Such a ruling would be particularly onerous for the NFLPA as it negotiates a new collective bargaining agreement, he writes; there is already widespread discussion about a lockout for the 2011 season.
Like any good brief, Brees ends with a zinger, this one directed at two of the most high-profile owners in the league:
I hope that the justices of the Supreme Court recognize and ensure the continuance of the intense competition inherent in this game, and in the business behind the game. As readers of The Washington Post know well, NFL teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins are by no means a single entity — just ask Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones.
By: Danny Jacobs
The NFL released its entire 2009 schedule Tuesday, but it’s eight specific games on the calendar that are the focus of a courtroom hearing in Washington, D.C. this week.
The octet of games will air later this year on NFL Network, which is owned by the league. Comcast has put the network on its premium sports tier, which costs extra on top of the standard digital package, where the league wants its network to be.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, claims it put the network in the premium tier because of high costs associated with carrying the channel; the NFL says Comcast put the channel there so as not to compete with Comcast’s own sports channels.
An administrative law judge with the Federal Communications Commission will make a ruling that could have implications beyond sports:
It is the first big test at the FCC of a 1992 federal law that prohibits cable companies, such as Comcast, from favoring their own entertainment content over that of independents, such as the NFL Network. …[A ruling in favor of the NFL] could make it easier for independent programmers to gain access to cable systems, experts say.
This case is one of three that will be heard in the next few months by Judge Richard L. Sippel; another one, interestingly enough, involves MASN, the Orioles’ and Nationals cable network. After settling a separate federal suit against Comcast (over “split feed” advertising in the Baltimore and D.C. region) a little more than a year ago, MASN now wants Comcast to carry the channel in several southern Virginia markets.
As the clock wound down in the countdown to NFL free agency late Thursday afternoon, Ray Lewis’ agent Ira Rainess told a group of law students his client’s ties to Baltimore went deeper than a football contract.
A partner with Rainess in Team 52 Development LLC, Lewis is an equity partner in the city’s Gateway South, a mixed-use sports, retail and office space project that will include an educational and mentoring center named for Lewis.
After Lewis avoided a charge for attempted murder in 2000, Rainess said the linebacker came to him to work on how to get active in the community and teach kids how to not go down the wrong path.
“I meet with the city every one or two weeks to talk about issues in Baltimore where they need his help,” Rainess said at a sports law symposium hosted by the University of Baltimore School of Law, his alma mater. “Ray makes his home here; his commitment to the city is as good as any athlete I’ve ever seen.”
Rainess also told students he believed that public/private development projects such as Gateway South are the wave of the future for athletes Read the rest of this entry »