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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Legal Matters

Vince McMahon planning to buy XFL out of bankruptcy?

Vince McMahon

You didn’t think Vince McMahon was really going to let the XFL go down the way it did, did you?

McMahon spent money, time, and energy reviving the XFL for a launch this year and got screwed when the pandemic hit, forcing the cancellation of the season halfway through. The XFL filed for bankruptcy, which may have drawn jeers from some corners, but as usual, McMahon knew what he was doing.

It seems that filing for bankruptcy was a strategic financial move. How do we know?

According to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, the XFL’s president has reached out to representatives in St. Louis and Seattle about reinstating the leases where the local teams played. Additionally, unsecured creditors said in a bankruptcy court filing that they believe McMahon is attempting to buy back the league and its assets at a low price.

McMahon reportedly is attempting to pay $3.5 million back to season ticket holders. Season ticket holders are regarded as unsecured creditors in terms of money given to the league, and would be low on the list to receive repayment in an ordinary bankruptcy behind other lenders. However, an attempt to refund season ticket holders seems like a gesture of goodwill from someone who might be intending to restart the league.

McMahon owns 80 percent of the league through Alpha Entertainment, and WWE owns 20 percent.

There was no way McMahon would put so much into the league and just give up. He is likely planning to revive it, but will probably need new players and coaches so that he doesn’t have to pay the ones who were owed money from the canceled 2020 season. Of course, McMahon still has the lawsuit with Oliver Luck he is fighting over guaranteed pay for the league’s former commissioner.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Deandre Baker pleads not guilty to all charges related to alleged armed robbery

Deandre Baker

Deandre Baker has maintained his innocence since being accused of robbing people at gunpoint at a party last week, and the New York Giants cornerback submitted his plea accordingly on Tuesday.

Baker has pleaded not guilty to all eight charges he is facing related to the alleged armed robbery, according to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe.

Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar have been accused of robbing victims at a party in Florida of expensive watches and cash and making a getaway in luxury vehicles that were waiting outside the party. Baker’s attorney said Monday that his client and Dunbar are the victims of an obvious “shakedown” and that witness testimony will prove it.

The Giants have asked Baker to stay away from virtual meetings and workouts for the time being, and the 22-year-old apologized to the team for becoming a distraction.

Dan Majerle suing Grand Canyon after being fired

Dan Majerle

Dan Majerle is suing Grand Canyon University after being fired by the school two months ago.

Majerle was fired by GCU on March 12, a week after the program’s final game of a 13-17 shortened season.

Arizona Sports reports that Majerle filed a lawsuit against the school. The suit alleges GCU breached its contract by not paying Majerle his severance.

Majerle was the program’s only coach since moving to Division-I and went 136-89 over seven years, including four straight 20-plus win seasons prior to the 2019-2020 season. The 54-year-old head coach was an assistant for the Phoenix Suns prior to his time at Grand Canyon and had a lengthy playing career with Phoenix.

Bryce Drew was named GCU’s new head coach mere days after Majerle was fired.

Vince McMahon argues Oliver Luck was fired from XFL for cause

Vince McMahon

The legal battle between XFL owner Vince McMahon and former commissioner Oliver Luck shows no signs of slowing down.

McMahon’s attorneys responded to Luck’s wrongful termination lawsuit Wednesday by claiming that the former commissioner was fired for cause. Three examples were cited, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.

The first was that Luck “abandoned his responsibilities” at the start of the coronavirus pandemic by leaving the XFL’s offices and not devoting his time to the league. McMahon also claims that Luck signed wide receiver Antonio Callaway and refused to release him when McMahon ordered it, as well as personal use of an XFL-issued iPhone.

Luck is seeking what he says was a promised payout from McMahon after being fired as commissioner. McMahon’s response that Luck was fired with cause would invalidate those payments.

This is a pretty pathetic ending for the XFL, as McMahon’s second attempt to create a pro football league has gone little better than his first.

Coach K could be deposed as part of Zion Williamson lawsuit

Coach K

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski could be deposed as part of a lawsuit involving former Blue Devil star Zion Williamson.

Williamson is being sued by Gina Ford, who runs Prime Sports Marketing. Williamson originally signed a marketing deal with Ford’s company but backed out and signed with Creative Artists Agency instead. In order to get out of his contract with Ford’s company, Williamson sued and alleged the deal was void because it violated North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act since Prime Sports Marketing is not a registered agent there.

Well, Ford wasn’t about to accept that outcome without a legal fight. She sued back and is alleging Williamson is not protected by the Uniform Athlete Agents Act under the grounds that he accepted illegal benefits as an NCAA athlete at Duke.

In order to prove her case, Ford’s attorneys want to know where Williamson’s mother and step-father lived while he was at Duke, who owned the home, and how the home was paid for. The implication is they believe the living situation for Williamson’s parents was illegally provided.

Ford’s attorneys are threatening to go after everyone and try to depose even Coach K as they go through the case, according to SI.

Duke issued the following statement in January about the Zion allegations:

“As soon as Duke was made aware of any allegation that might have affected Zion Williamson’s eligibility, we conducted a thorough and objective investigation which was directed by individuals outside the athletics department. We found no evidence to support any allegation. Zion thrived as both a student and an athlete at Duke, and always conducted himself with integrity and purpose.”

Williamson was accused in August of accepting improper benefits from Duke and Nike.

Keeping information like this out of the public is exactly why many parties often settle lawsuits. We expect that outcome to happen here, which would spare Krzyzewski and others from being deposed.

Vanessa Bryant files legal claim over photos taken of helicopter crash site

Vanessa Bryant speech

Vanessa Bryant is still sorting through much of the legal fallout from the helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna back in January. The latest step she took was on Friday, when she filed a legal claim over some unauthorized photos that were captured at the crash site.

Bryant filed a legal claim seeking damages for emotional distress and mental anguish after it was determined that eight LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies took photos of the crash and shared them with others, according to court documents obtained by People. The photos were taken despite Bryant going to the Sheriff’s office the morning of the crash on Jan. 26 and requesting that the crash site be designated a no-fly zone.

“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,” the claim states. “As the Department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”

The claim asserts that the Sheriff’s Department’s “mishandling of this egregious misconduct” worsened Vanessa Bryant’s level of emotional distress, as she learned of the photo leak more than a month after the crash through media outlets. A spokesperson for the Bryant family told People that the court filing is “solely about enforcing accountability, protecting the victims and making sure no one ever has to deal with this conduct in the future.”

“When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have the right to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect,” the family spokesperson said. “The Deputies in this case betrayed that sacred trust. This claim is intended to hold the Sheriff’s Department accountable and to prevent future misconduct.”

Two LA firefighters also took photos at the crash site and were instructed to delete them. Bryant’s legal team released a statement on her behalf back in March condemning the behavior of the deputies and firefighters.

According to a March report from TMZ, one of the deputies showed the photos to a woman at a bar while trying to impress her. The bartender saw what happened and filed an online complaint with the Sheriff’s Department. The photos were also shared at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s substation.

Prior to speaking out about the unauthorized photos, Bryant also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that owned the helicopter that Kobe, Gianna and seven others were traveling in.

Telvin Smith pleads not guilty to unlawful sexual activity with minor

Telvin Smith was arrested last week and charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and the former Jacksonville Jaguars star is pleading not guilty to the charges.

Smith has waived his arraignment and filed a plea of not guilty, according to a court filing obtained by First Coast News. He also chose to waive his right to being present at pretrial conferences, likely to help limit his exposure to the media.

Smith has been accused of having sex with an underage girl he met in August 2019. He allegedly was informed that the girl was under 18 but continued to pursue having sexual relations with her. Smith reportedly gave the girl $200 for her troubles after his sexual encounter with her, and she used the money in part for emergency contraception.

The two had another sexual incident in September 2019. The girl told family members about the incidents, and police were notified.

Police investigating the matter saw that DNA inside Smith’s car matched with the girl’s DNA. They also have voice messages from Smith to the girl.

Smith, who had 134 tackles in 2018 for the Jags, did not play last season.