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#pounditMonday, June 27, 2022

Legal Matters

Report: Washington Commanders, NFL in squabble over team crest

Washington Commanders logo

The Washington Commanders are just two weeks removed from unveiling their new nickname and logos, and they are already dealing with a major issue.

As part of their big rebrand, the Commanders created a crest that features the years of the five championships they won. There was a fairly significant problem, however. The years coincided with the actual year that the championship games were held — not the season. For example, the then-Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XVII, which was the championship game of the 1982 NFL season. The Super Bowl was held on Jan. 30, 1983, and the Washington Commanders’ crest had 1983 on it.

According to Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Commanders tried to remedy the issue by switching the years to the Roman numerals of the game. That’s not allowed, as those Roman numeral logos are considered intellectual property of the NFL. The NFL denied Washington’s request to use them.

So why can’t the Commanders simply switch to the proper dates? They’d have to file for a new trademark application before doing that.

Most people aren’t surprised. Trouble seems to follow Washington’s NFL franchise, no matter what its nickname is. Whether it’s their owner at the center of an investigation or a railing collapsing at their stadium, the drama never seems to end.

Two more suspects arrested in Alvin Kamara incident

Alvin Kamara smiles

Alvin Kamara is facing a felony charge after he allegedly beat a man in Las Vegas, and two more arrests have since been made in the case.

Police arrested two more suspects on Monday, according to TMZ. The men, Darrin Young and Percy Harris, turned themselves in after warrants were issued. Each was charged with battery resulting in substantial bodily harm, which is the same felony charge Kamara is facing.

Kamara and his friends are accused of beating a man early in the morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 5. The New Orleans Saints star played in the Pro Bowl that Sunday and was arrested at Allegiant Stadium following the game. The NFL was aware of the impending charge prior to the Pro Bowl but allowed Kamara to play anyway.

The police report states that Kamara punched the alleged victim eight times, with three of the punches coming when the man was on the ground. Other men that Kamara was with — likely Young and Harris — also allegedly assaulted the victim. Police reviewed surveillance video that they say shows Kamara putting his arm out to stop the victim from getting in an elevator before the fight broke out.

You can read more details about what led to the altercation here.

Kamara caught four passes for 23 yards in the Pro Bowl. He just completed his fifth NFL season and has made the Pro Bowl all five years.

Photo: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Daniel Snyder could be forced to sell Washington Commanders

Daniel Snyder looks on

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder is expected to face another NFL investigation after a former employee accused him of sexual assault, and there is once again talk that he could be forced to sell the team.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on NBC’s Super Bowl pregame that there is a sense Snyder could be pushed out in Washington. The NFL fined the then-Washington Football Team $10 million last year following a workplace misconduct investigation. The league did not ask attorney Beth Wilkinson, who led the investigation, to provide a written report, but Florio says she would have recommended at the time that Snyder sell his franchise.

The pressure is said to be mounting again. Six former Washington employees spoke with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee in a hearing on Feb. 3. During that hearing, former Redskins cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani A. Johnston made a detailed sexual assault allegation against Snyder. Florio says that could be the final straw for the 57-year-old billionaire.

“The league is now going to investigate those (allegations),” Florio said. “I’m told, for the first time ever, there is a sense among ownership that the time may have come for Daniel Snyder to move on.”

The previous investigation into workplace misconduct in Washington stemmed from sexual harassment allegations against five former employees. Snyder was not directly accused of anything, but there was still speculation that he could be forced to sell the team.

A separate report that came out months later revealed that Snyder paid $1.6 million to settle a sexual misconduct claim in 2009. The settlement did not include any admission of wrongdoing from Snyder or the team.

Snyder filed a lawsuit roughly a year ago that was related to Washington’s minority owners possibly trying to push him out. He has once again found himself on the defensive.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Deshazor Everett charged with involuntary manslaughter over fatal car crash

Deshazor Everett during a game

Washington Commanders defensive back Deshazor Everett has been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter over a fatal car crash in December.

Everett was the driver of a Nissan sports car that went off the road on Gum Spring Road in Loudoun County, Va. on Thursday, Dec. 23. The car hit several trees and rolled over. The woman in the passenger seat, 29-year-old Olivia Peters, was taken to a hospital and died. Everett was taken to the hospital to be treated for serious injuries.

On Tuesday, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office released a statement in which they said Everett had been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter after turning himself in. They said in their statement that Everett was traveling at twice the speed limit before his crash.

The police say Everett is being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on a $10,000 secured bond.

Everett’s attorney issued a statement in which they said they were continuing to investigate the matter and asking for patience.

Everett, 29, had 10 tackles in 14 games this season. This was his seventh season with the team.

Photo: Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins safety Deshazor Everett (22) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL files to dismiss Jon Gruden lawsuit, says there were more emails

Jon Gruden smiles

Jon Gruden filed a lawsuit against the NFL back in November claiming the league intentionally leaked his private emails in order to ruin his career. The NFL immediately responded by denying the allegations, and they have now backed up that denial with a court filing.

The NFL filed a motion to dismiss Gruden’s lawsuit in Nevada this week, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. In the filing, the league’s attorneys argue that Gruden sent offensive emails to at least five other recipients besides former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen.

“Gruden sent a variety of similarly abhorrent emails to a half dozen recipients over a seven-year period, in which he denounced ‘the emergence of women as referees,’ and frequently used homophobic and sexist slurs to refer to Commissioner Goodell, then-Vice President Joseph Biden, a gay professional football player drafted in 2014, and others,” the NFL’s attorneys wrote in the filing.

The emails that led to Gruden’s resignation leaked as part of an investigation into workplace misconduct with the Washington Football Team. In one of them, Gruden mocked NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith over the size of his lips. More emails leaked days later in which Gruden used a gay slur and other problematic language.

In the motion to dismiss, the NFL argues that the emails were damaging to both Gruden and the league. The league also says the emails, which it insists were not intentionally leaked, “would have and could have permitted the Commissioner himself to sanction and fire Gruden.”

More than 650,000 emails were reviewed as part of the WFT investigation, but the NFL has reportedly claimed Gruden’s were the only damaging ones.

The lawsuit from Gruden may not be the only one the NFL faces over the situation.

Photo: Aug 18, 2021; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden during a joint practice against the Los Angeles Rams. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Floyd Mayweather being sued for hyping failed cryptocurrency in alleged scheme

Floyd Mayweather at the podium

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is among the influencers being sued for hyping a failed cryptocurrency investment.

An investor named Ryan Huegerich filed a class action lawsuit on January 7 in which he alleged that Mayweather and other celebrities promoted a cryptocurrency called “EthereumMax” in a pump-and-dump scheme.

The suit alleges that Mayweather, along with Kim Kardashian and Paul Pierce, were paid to hype up EthereumMax. EthereumMax has no connection to the widely known cryptocurrency and internet platform, Ethereum.

Mayweather made EthereumMax the official cryptocurrency for his fight with Logan Paul last year.

The suit argues that thanks to the hype generated by these celebrities, including Mayweather, the price of EthereumMax spiked 1,370 percent at its peak, while trading volume increased by over 600 percent. The price of EthereumMax then crashed 98 percent, leaving those who purchased the asset amid the hype and did not sell, holding worthless assets. You can see the EthereumMax chart here.

The celebrities who promoted the digital tokens, as well as the EthereumMax founders, are accused of selling their assets after the price was pumped up.

Mayweather was fined in 2018 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for hyping up cryptocurrency without disclosing he had been paid to do so.

You can read the entire lawsuit here.

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/Mayweather Promotions/Premier Boxing Champions

LaMelo Ball sued by publicist for millions over shoe deal

LaMelo Ball makes a hand gesture

LaMelo Ball signed a massive endorsement deal with Puma ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft, and a publicist claims the Charlotte Hornets star never paid her what he owed her for helping him secure the contract.

According to a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, publicist Amber Johnson says Ball hired her in 2019 to help him secure endorsement deals. She says she helped him land a video game streaming show, so Ball asked her to continue working with him. But after Ball signed his $100 million deal with Puma, Johnson says the 20-year-old never paid her.

Johnson says Ball and his representatives agreed to give her 10 percent of any business deal she helped Ball secure. She claims she helped facilitate Ball’s deal with Puma and is entitled to 10 percent of that, as well as $4,800 in expenses for which she was never reimbursed from various other projects.

Johnson is seeking damages in excess of $10 million.

Ball is averaging 19.3 points, 7.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game in his second NBA season. He has already made some noteworthy connections since coming into the league. Now, he’s facing his first mega-lawsuit.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars facing embarrassing lawsuit from major sponsor

Shad Khan smiling

The Jacksonville Jaguars have suffered through an embarrassing season from start to finish in 2021. The campaign appears to be ending in appropriate fashion, with the franchise facing a very embarrassing lawsuit from a primary sponsor.

RoofClaim.com, a Georgia-based roofing company, is suing the Jaguars in a bid to disassociate the brand with the team’s final regular season game. The company fears “irreparable harm” for being associated with the game, in which a group of fans plans to dress up as clowns to protest owner Shad Khan’s decision to retain GM Trent Baalke.

In a complaint filed Thursday in Jacksonville, RoofClaim.com stated that it wanted to avoid “its brand being emphasized as the primary sponsor of the clown game,” via Mark Long of the Associated Press. The claim, originally obtained by the Florida Times-Union, argues that the Jaguars “utterly failed to provide the sponsorship benefits outlined in the agreement” by creating a “toxic marketing environment.”

The Jaguars said the lawsuit was “baseless and without merit.”

Some Jaguars fans plan to participate in a “Klown Out” for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts to register their displeasure with the decision to keep Baalke as GM. While it is unclear how many fans will participate, there is clearly some fear that the number will be fairly high if a company is willing to go to court over this.

Beyond the fact that Baalke has few successful personnel moves to point to in Jacksonville, there are rumors he may be hindering the team’s head coaching search. Now, fairly or not, his presence has led to the phrase “clown game” being attached to the team’s season finale in a legal filing. That has to be pretty embarrassing for Khan and the organization as a whole.

Photo: Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan (Shahid Khan) watches from the sidelines during an NFL International Series game against the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clinton Portis sentenced to six months in prison for insurance fraud

Clinton Portis

Former NFL running back Clinton Portis was sentenced to prison time Thursday for his role in defrauding a benefit program for former NFL players.

Portis was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement stemming from the insurance fraud charges. The former running back was convicted of obtaining nearly $100,000 by filing false claims for medical equipment that was not provided. The target was the NFL’s Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan, which is designed to aid retired players in paying for medical expenses. Portis and a number of other players were accused of filing false claims worth about $2.9 million in total, and 15 ex-players have pled guilty as part of the scheme.

Portis originally faced up to 10 years in prison for the charges. The Department of Justice had recommended a 10-to-16 month sentence after he pled guilty.

The 40-year-old Portis played for Denver and Washington over the course of nine NFL seasons, and was twice named to the Pro Bowl. As recently as August, he was facing other unrelated legal issues as well.

Ex-USC player arrested on federal charges for alleged COVID scheme

USC Trojans logo

A former USC football player was arrested this week and is facing several charges stemming from an alleged COVID-19-related fraud scheme.

Abdul-Malik McClain, who transferred from USC to Jackson State last November, was arrested on Monday in Los Angeles and charged with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. McClain and other football players are accused of orchestrating a scheme to claim COVID-related unemployment benefits.

McClain was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 16 after prosecutors determined he and his associates filed more than 30 fraudulent applications seeking a total of more than $900,000. Roughly $227,000 of the money was paid out, according to Brian Rokos of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“While a member of his university’s football team, McClain organized and assisted a group of other football players in filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits, including under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program established by Congress in response to the pandemic’s economic fallout,” the indictment says. “The indictment … contained false information about the football players’ supposed prior employment, pandemic-related job loss, and job-seeking efforts in California.”

The players were allegedly mailed debit cards from Bank of America that were loaded with hundreds of thousands in unemployment benefits. They used the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.

McClain was released after posting $20,000 bond. He is due back in court on Feb. 15. No other arrests were announced on Monday.

Abdul-Malik’s brother, Munir McClain, was suspended by USC last year amid a federal probe into unemployment benefit fraud. Munir has since transferred to Utah. The McClains said at the time that they applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and helped other USC players.

McClain, a linebacker, had three total tackles at Jackson State this season.