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The Blitz 2/1/20


February 1, 2020

Our picks for the
Ten Most Interesting Sports Law Stories
from the past week.

The Super Bowl may be the biggest game of the week, but it’s far from the only one.  Sports law never takes a break and we’ve got the “Main Events” covered for you here.


Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, won’t be free agent until after 2021 season

(ESPN-Jeff Passan)   Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant lost his grievance in which he sought an extra year of service time, ensuring he won’t become a free agent until after the 2021 season, sources familiar with the ruling told ESPN.

Major League Baseball arbitrator Mark Irvings’ ruling in favor of the team was long expected, sources said, and it definitively locks in Bryant’s value as Chicago considers trading him. With two seasons of team control, the Cubs can seek a far greater return than they could have had Bryant won and accelerated his free agency.  Continue reading…


NFL not investigating New Orleans Saints advising church in its response to pedophilia case, source says

(The Athletic-Daniel Kaplan)  The NFL is not investigating the New Orleans Saints over advising the local Catholic church’s messaging in response to a lawsuit accusing the archdiocese of covering up allegations of sexual abuse, a league source said. Nor does the league plan to do so in the future unless Saints emails show troublesome actions.  Continue reading… See also:  What the Latest Allegations Mean for the Saints in the Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Case (Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)


Reche Caldwell, Etric Pruitt pleading guilty in health fund fraud case

(Pro Football Talk-Curtis Crabtree)   Reche Caldwell and Etric Pruitt are pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud in a case involving a dozen former NFL players, according to Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Caldwell pleaded guilty last Thursday while Pruitt was scheduled to enter his guilty plea on Monday. They join former Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn as players to have pleaded guilty that were involved in the scheme.   Continue reading…

NHL Goes Scorched Earth Against Montador Lawsuit

(Advocacy for Fairness in Sports-Derek Helling)   The end of the NHL concussion litigation may be in sight, at least as it pertains to three of the members of a proposed class of former players that sued the league for damages related to head injuries and opted out of an earlier settlement. The NHL has asked the federal court in the Northern District of Illinois to consolidate the complaints of Daniel “Carbomb” Carcillo and Nick Boynton with the estate of the late Steven Montador and also made a motion for dismissal of the claims. Comparing those pleadings with what we already know about how the NHL operates in regards to head injuries produces some interesting inconsistencies that are convenient for the league.

Keeping with its theme throughout this litigation, the NHL repeats its talking points that the NHL has no duty to study head injuries and even if it did, the law does not require the league to disclose the results of such research to NHL players. Furthermore, the NHL alleges that it has made no statements regarding the safety of its brand of ice hockey that the plaintiff has shown to be false.  Continue Reading…


Lawmakers Push For MLB To Keep Minor League Intact

(Law 360-Zach Zagger)  A bipartisan group of more than 60 House lawmakers on Tuesday backed a resolution to urge Major League Baseball to keep the Minor League Baseball system intact amid plans to potentially downsize.

The resolution sponsored by Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Massachusetts, David McKinley, R-West Virginia, Max Rose, D-New York, and Mike Simpson, R-Indiana, expresses congressional support for the Minor League Baseball system and the 160 communities across the country with teams.

MLB is looking to cut 42 minor league teams, or 25% of those affiliated with MLB teams, by pulling player development contracts with MLB as part of renegotiation for a new overall MiLB deal, known as the Professional Baseball Agreement, starting with the 2021 season. Such development contracts are vital for minor league teams to operate.   Continue reading…


What H.R. 5528 Actually Would – And Wouldn’t – Do If It Becomes Law

(Advocacy for Fairness in Sports-Derek Helling)  Unfortunately, there has been some bad reporting on a recently introduced bill in the US House of Representatives, H.R. 5528. Contrary to the insinuations of poorly written headlines, the bill would not place a cap on compensation for coaches at NCAA-member universities or establish a limited exemption to federal antitrust laws for the NCAA. Framing the bill as such is not only false but diminishes the real power that the bill would grant. It’s even more potent than the bad reporting suggests.   Continue reading…


Insurer In Uphill Fight To Avoid Olympic Sex Assault Coverage

(Law 360-Mike LaSusa)   A Colorado federal magistrate judge on Tuesday recommended nixing an insurer’s bid for the court to declare it doesn’t have to defend the U.S. Olympic Committee against allegations of sexual abuse by former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya said the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the USOC, pointing out that despite the fact that the USOC is headquartered in Colorado Springs, it is a federally-chartered entity whose “mission and purpose are not only nationwide, but worldwide.”

Moreover, Judge Tafoya said, nothing in the law suggests Congress wanted to allow lawsuits against the USOC to proceed in the Colorado district court.  “Congressional intent that USOC remain exempt from diversity jurisdiction unless it and it alone seeks out the federal court, is clear,” the magistrate judge said.

Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. filed the lawsuit in April, saying the USOC failed to disclose three decades of sexual misconduct claims.   Continue reading… See also: USA Gymnastics Floats $215M Ch. 11 Fund For Nassar Victims  (Law360-Vince Sullivan)


Who Hid the NFL Disability Doctors?

(Advocacy for Fairness in Sports – Sheilla Dingus)  This article details our audit of 10 years worth of NFL Retirement/Disability Form 5500s on file with the Department of Labor.

Sometimes what you see tells a story.  Sometimes what you don’t see tells an even bigger one.  Both statements are true when it comes to the NFL’s Bert Bell-Pete Rozelle Retirement/Disability Plan.  Continue Reading…


Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Investigation Will Examine Several Factors

(Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)   The helicopter crash that caused the deaths of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others is the subject of investigations by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Eight passengers and a pilot were traveling in a Sikorsky S-76 when it crashed at around 9:45 a.m. local time on Sunday. The crash occurred in a field in the Los Angeles County city of Calabasas about 45 minutes after the helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. Other victims include Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and both his daughter Alyssa and wife Keri.

ESPN has reported that Bryant was traveling with his daughter to attend one of her basketball games. Bryant had flown on helicopters for years in part to avoid Los Angeles traffic and to travel in comfort. He was experienced traveling on a S-76, a top-of-the-line helicopter for private travel and air ambulance services.

The identity of the pilot of the crashed chopper is unknown at this time.  Continue reading…


Russell Okung Wants to Disrupt the N.F.L. Establishment

(New York Times-Ken Belson)  The Chargers’ offensive linemen wants the Players Association to be far more confrontational with owners and he is saying so, even if that gets him into trouble.

The series of events that made Russell Okung, an offensive tackle with the Los Angeles Chargers, realize he needed to force change in the N.F.L. began in July, when he became short of breath during an off-season practice.  He went to the sideline but still struggled to breathe. He drove home. His wife insisted he see a doctor.

The next morning at the hospital, a test revealed blood clots in his lungs and left leg. Consulting with doctors, Okung learned that people like him — 300-pound linemen who absorb a lot of hits — often get these clots, and that he’d be lucky to play again.

When Okung told the Chargers about his condition, the team put him on the non-football injury list, which could have allowed the team to slash his multimillion-dollar salary.  Continue Reading…      See also: (ESPN-Dan Graziano)  DeMaurice Smith outlines message for players ahead of NFLPA board meeting

Also Notable:

Deceased NFL Player’s Ex-Spouse Owes IRS, 3rd Circ. Says      (Law360-Joshua Rosenberg)

Dustin Pedroia and the Pricey Guarantees of MLB Contracts   (Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)

Investigation Opened After Hackers Target NFL League and Team Social Accounts   (Sport Techie-Andrew Cohen)

The NBA Could Punish Marcus Morris After Misogynistic Comments (Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann)

While you’re here, check out the latest “From the Mind of Maurice Clarett”

books and weightsMental Strength is Physical Strength

When you watch movies with guys in prison, there are always scenes with them lifting weights, getting stronger. They are building their bodies physically.
With me it was a little different: I spent my time in prison building my mind. I was getting stronger mentally.
For two years, I participated in something called an integrated cognitive behavioral change program, Thinking for a Change, and after I completed the program, I was a facilitator for it until I was released.
An integrated cognitive behavioral change program like this is built around taking classes every week and doing reading and reflection every night. The classes taught (1) social skills, (2) cognitive self-change, and (3) problem-solving.

Continue reading

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