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#pounditMonday, September 26, 2022

Legal Matters

Fans sue Jets, Giants and make a good point

Zach Wilson on the practice field

May 7, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson during rookie minicamp. Mandatory Credit: New York Jets/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Two NFL fans have amended the lawsuit that they filed against the New York Giants and New York Jets earlier this year, and the latest demand sounds a bit more reasonable. Realistic? Probably not, but reasonable.

As Rich Calder of the New York Post notes, NFL fans Abdiell Suero and Maggie Wilkins demanded back in January that the Giants and Jets be forced to move to the Big Apple. The two teams currently share MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Obviously there is no chance of the two franchises moving states, so the fans amended their lawsuit last month. They now just want the teams to change their names.

“New York City is the Big Apple, home of the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the stock market, Broadway musicals ticker-tape parades,” the amendment states. “MetLife Stadium is located in the swamps of East Rutherford, NJ, which has a population under 10,000, the 116th largest city in New Jersey. It’s not exactly an exciting and romantic destination[,] and the Giants, Jets and MetLife Stadium have absolutely no connection whatsoever with the city, county or state of New York.”

Suero and Wilkins say they were fooled into thinking the Giants and Jets played in New York by false advertising and other deceptive practices. Suero, who says he is an avid football fan, told the New York Post he was stunned when he bought tickets to a Giants game a few years ago and realized he had to travel to New Jersey for it. He said in his initial complaint in January that he “spent more time traveling to get to the game than the game actually lasted.”

The class-action lawsuit seeks to represent anyone who feels they have been misled by the Jets’ and Giants’ marketing practices since 2016. The suit also notes that the Meadowlands in New Jersey is the “site of one of the country’s biggest garbage dumps for decades before defendants’ stadiums were built on top of it.”

The NFL, Giants and Jets filed paperwork on April 25 seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. The response said the use of “New York” in the teams’ names is not misleading, especially since Manhattan is just seven miles from MetLife Stadium. NFL teams have rights to a 75-mile radius of territory.

It still seems highly unlikely that anything will come of the class-action suit. In the meantime, it has provided some nice entertainment.

Josh Lambo suing Jaguars over Urban Meyer’s treatment of him

Josh Lambo in pads

Aug 17, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars place kicker Josh Lambo (4) enters the field during training camp at Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Lambo has filed a lawsuit against the Jacksonville Jaguars over the way he was treated by Urban Meyer and the organization.

Lambo’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County on Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The former kicker is seeking $3.5 million in lost wages due to him being cut by the Jags, plus damages for emotional distress.

Lambo signed a 4-year contract with the Jags in 2019. However, he was cut by the Jags in September after going 0-for-3 on field goals to begin the season and 5-for-7 on extra point attempts.

In December, Lambo went pubic with an allegation about Meyer’s mistreatment of him. Lambo claimed that the former Jaguars head coach kicked him before a preseason game and told him to making his “f—ing kicks.” Lambo says he told Meyer not to f—ing kick him again. The incident came after Lambo missed field goals in the team’s first two preseason games.

The lawsuit claims that Meyer created a hostile workplace and violated the law by striking him. Lambo also claims that the Jags violated a whistleblower law by cutting him after the kicker approached the team’s legal counsel about what happened.

The team insists they gave Lambo the opportunity to speak with them, but he says he has no recollection of such an offer.

Meyer has also disputed the way Lambo described the incident between them.

In addition to seeking his pay for 2021, Lambo wants “compensation for any special damages sustained as emotional stress and reputational harm and litigation fees,” according to the Times. The lawsuit also seeks any documentation related to the workplace environment under Meyer.

Lambo, 31, kicked in four games in 2020 and three games in 2021. The Steelers picked up Lambo in November before releasing him a week later. Lambo led the league in field goal percentage (97.1 percent) in 2019. Meyer was fired by the Jags after just 13 games last season, which was his first ever in the NFL.

Prosecutors reach decision in Mike Tyson airplane incident

Mike Tyson before a fight

Nov 28, 2020; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Mike Tyson (black trunks) exits the ring after his split draw against Roy Jones, Jr. (white trunks) during a heavyweight exhibition boxing bout for the WBC Frontline Belt at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Scarnici/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tyson repeatedly pummeled a man during an altercation on an airplane last month, but the former heavyweight champion will not face criminal charges over the incident.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe announced on Tuesday morning that no charges will be filed against Tyson. He said the conduct of the man who was on the receiving end of the beating from Tyson played a role in the decision.

“We have reviewed the police reports of the San Francisco Police Department and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and have viewed the various videos collected by law enforcement from others on the airplane,” Wagstaffe said in a statement, via CBS Bay Area. “Our decision is that we will not file any charges against Mr. Tyson based on the circumstances surrounding the confrontation. These include the conduct of the victim leading up to the incident, the interaction between Mr. Tyson and the victim, as well as the requests of both the victim and Mr. Tyson that no charges be filed in this case.”

Melvin Townsend III, the man who was punched by Tyson, declined to press charges immediately after the incident. He did, however, hire an attorney. There were hints that he might file a lawsuit against Tyson, and that could still happen.

Tyson and Townsend were on a JetBlue flight that was scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Miami on April 20 when Tyson repeatedly punched Townsend. Tyson’s representatives claimed Townsend was harassing the 55-year-old and threw a water bottle at him. You can see video footage of the altercation here.

Browns threatened to go after Hue Jackson’s money

Hue Jackson with a headset on

Dec 3, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson looks on from the sideline during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year, former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson accused the team of tanking and hinted that they incentivized him to lose games. The Browns were obviously not pleased about the allegation, and they threatened to stop paying Jackson if he did not back down.

The Browns still owe Jackson an undisclosed amount of money from when they fired him in 2018. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk obtained a copy of a letter the Browns had a law firm send to Jackson five days after he made his tanking allegation in early February. The letter demanded that Jackson “immediately cease and desist from making any further comments suggesting that anyone involved with the Browns organization sought to lose games while you where the head coach.”

The letter also stated that the Browns “reserve all rights to seek relief against you” if Jackson continued to breach the release agreement he signed after he was fired.

The NFL announced this week that it could not substantiate the tanking claims. Jackson initially agreed to meet with investigators but then never did. Sports Illustrated reported that Jackson wanted assurances from the NFL that he would have protections if the Browns pursued claims against him, such as trying not to pay the remainder of his settlement.

In a pair of posts on Twitter in February, Jackson strongly implied that the Browns offered him money to lose games. When pressed for details, he seemingly backed away from that allegation and more vaguely said the Browns “intended to lose” while he was employed with them.

It is fair to wonder if the possibility of losing money factored into Jackson’s decision making.

US government makes major change to handling of Brittney Griner case

Brittney Griner smiles

Mar 12, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in attendance of the Phoenix Suns game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for more than two months as she awaits trial for an alleged drug offense, but the United States government is ramping up its efforts to have the WNBA star released.

The U.S. government has officially classified Griner as being wrongfully detained, according to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn. That is a shift from prior to this past weekend, when Griner’s case was merely being monitored by the consular office. Now that Griner has been classified as wrongfully detained, the U.S. government will likely seek to negotiate her release.

“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” the State Department said in a statement to ESPN. “With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.”

Quinn reports that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, an experienced international hostage negotiator, recently agreed to work on Griner’s case. Griner’s team became more optimistic about her situation when U.S. and Russian officials negotiated the release of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed last week. Reed had been detained in Russia since 2019.

Griner was taken into custody on Feb. 17 after authorities allegedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. She is said to be facing up to 10 years in prison.

Russian state news reported last month that Griner’s pre-trial detention had been extended until May 19. Per the country’s laws, Griner can be held a lot longer than that before facing trial.

Griner, 31, and other WNBA players play in Russia during the offseason. Griner has received support from the NBA community, and there will likely be more attention brought to her case now that the U.S. government has classified her as wrongfully detained.

Officials reach decision in Adrian Peterson domestic violence case

Adrian Peterson smiles

Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles officials have made a decision regarding the Adrian Peterson case.

Peterson was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, which was the day of the Super Bowl. Peterson and his wife were on an airplane that had left the gate but had to turn around due to a verbal and physical altercation between the running back and his wife. Peterson was kicked off the plane due to the incident and taken into custody, where he was initially charged.

But officials have changed their minds on the case.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office sent the case to the LA City Attorney. The city attorney declined to criminally charge Peterson in the matter, TMZ Sports reported on Monday.

Peterson agreed to complete 20 sessions of domestic violence and alcohol counseling within the next 6 months, according to TMZ Sports.

Peterson ended up avoiding misdemeanor charges.

The resolution to this case is a big deal for Peterson, whose NFL career may not be over yet. The 37-year-old played in four games last season, rushing for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He played in one game for Seattle and three for Tennessee.

Police share findings in college baseball water cooler investigation

Kansas Wesleyan water cooler poison

Police in Kansas opened an investigation this week after a college baseball team was accused of trying to poison the water cooler of an opponent, and they have determined that neither team was responsible for what happened.

Kansas Wesleyan University filed an incident report last week with the Lindsborg Police Department following allegations that someone with Bethany College tried to poison Kansas Wesleyan’s team water cooler. The alleged incident occurred on April 24, which is when KWU played the third of a three-game series against Bethany College. KWU won the game in an insane 33-2 blowout. After the game, a Twitter account called KWU Barstool shared a photo of what allegedly showed paint thinner in Kansas Wesleyan’s water cooler.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the LPD told TMZ that no one from either team tampered with the water supply. Rather, two male juveniles were identified as being responsible. The investigation is still ongoing.

KWU listed offenses in its incident report that included criminal threat, contaminated food/water sources, battery, knowing/recklessly causing bodily harm and criminal damage to property. Bethany College also filed a report with the police over the same incident.

It is unclear if charges will be filed. While it is certainly good news that a team did not attempt to poison an opponent, that does not make the act any less disturbing.

Sage Steele files lawsuit against ESPN

Sage Steele at the ESPYs

Jul 11, 2017; Marina del Rey, CA, USA; Tamika Catchings (left), Sage Steele (center) and Karl-Anthony Towns pose during the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year Awards at the Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime ESPN anchor Sage Steele is suing her employer.

Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Steele has filed a lawsuit against ESPN and parent company Disney. The suit accuses ESPN of taking action against Steele after she exercised her right to free speech.

During an appearance on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast last September, Steele ripped ESPN over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. She later tested positive for COVID and was temporarily taken off the air. The belief was that her hiatus had just as much to do with her comments about ESPN’s vaccine mandate as it did with her contracting the virus.

Steele also faced backlash for comments she made on the same podcast about former president Barack Obama. She said she finds it “fascinating” that Obama identifies as black on his US census form “considering his black dad was nowhere to be found.”

Steele later issued an apology. Her lawsuit states that the apology was forced by ESPN executives. The suit also claims ESPN retaliated against Steele by “taking away prime assignments and failing to stop bullying and harassment by Ms. Steele’s colleagues.”

The lawsuit alleges that ESPN violated Connecticut state law.

“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,” Steele’s attorney Bryan Freedman said in a statement. “Sage is standing up to corporate America to ensure employees don’t get their rights trampled on or their opinions silenced.”

Steele is expected to remain on the air with ESPN while the lawsuit plays out, Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post reports.

ESPN said last year that it welcomes differing viewpoints but that those viewpoints need to be “expressed respectfully.”

The Cutler podcast appearance was not the first time Steele has faced backlash for something she publicly complained about.

Police investigating claim that college baseball team tried to poison opponent

Kansas Wesleyan water cooler poison

Police have opened an official investigation after a college baseball team claimed their opponent attempted to poison them during a game last week.

According to police records obtained by TMZ, Kansas Wesleyan University filed an incident report with the Lindsborg Police Department in Kansas in which multiple unnamed people are listed as victims. The report stems from an allegation that someone with Bethany College tried to poison Kansas Wesleyan’s team water cooler in order to get their players sick.

The alleged incident occurred on April 24, which is when KWU played the third of a three-game series against Bethany College. KWU won the game in an insane 33-2 blowout. After the game, a Twitter account called KWU Barstool shared a photo of what allegedly showed paint thinner in Kansas Wesleyan’s water cooler.

The Twitter account is not affiliated with KWU or Barstool Sports, according to TMZ. The allegation, however, is being taken seriously.

“Kansas Wesleyan is aware of the primary tweet — made by an account not affiliated with the university — regarding this situation,” KWU said in a statement. “We take this extremely seriously. Therefore, we immediately began a thorough, in-depth review, with the priority of putting the health and safety of our student-athletes first.”

The offenses listed in the incident report include criminal threat, contaminated food/water sources, battery, knowing/recklessly causing bodily harm and criminal damage to property.

Mike Tyson could face lawsuit over airplane incident

Mike Tyson before a fight

Nov 28, 2020; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Mike Tyson (black trunks) exits the ring after his split draw against Roy Jones, Jr. (white trunks) during a heavyweight exhibition boxing bout for the WBC Frontline Belt at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Scarnici/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tyson repeatedly punched a man during an altercation on an airplane earlier this week, and the former heavyweight champion could face a lawsuit over the incident.

Melvin Townsend III, the passenger who was punched by Tyson, has hired a lawyer. The attorney, Matt Morgan, criticized Tyson for his actions while speaking with TMZ on Friday.

“Our client is a big Mike Tyson fan. When Mike Tyson boarded the plane, he became overly excited,” Morgan said. “At first, their interaction was cordial. At a certain point, Mr. Tyson clearly became agitated by an overly excited fan and began to strike him in an excessive manner. This situation could have been avoided simply by contacting the flight attendant. Our client denies throwing a water bottle prior to being struck by Mr. Tyson.”

As Morgan mentioned, Tyson’s representatives claimed Townsend was harassing the 55-year-old and threw a water bottle at him. The incident took place Wednesday night on a JetBlue flight that was headed from San Francisco to Miami. You can see video footage of the altercation here.

“To state the obvious, as one of the greatest fighters of all time, Mr. Tyson should have exercised greater restraint before using his hands on an overly excited fan,” Morgan added.

While Morgan did not say if a lawsuit would be filed, it seems like things could be headed in that direction. A source close to Townsend told TMZ that Townsend is “still in shock and has not made a determination on what his next steps will be.”

Both Tyson and Townsend got off the plane and spoke with police. Townsend received medical attention but reportedly declined to press charges at the time.

Townsend has a lengthy criminal history and has spent time in jail on two separate occasions.