NY AG Says NFL Can’t Fish for Information about Player’s Sexual Orientation at Combine

On March 14, 2013, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a warning letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after rumors emerged that the league was asking players about their sexual preferences when they reported to the scouting combine – employer behavior which is illegal in many jurisdictions.   The questions at issue were directed to three incoming college players who were allegedly asked whether they had girlfriends, whether they were married, or whether or not they “liked girls.” New York prohibits prospective employers from discriminating…
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Washington Redskins Tackle Challenge to Team Name

On February 7, 2013, the NFL’s Washington Redskins were forced to defend the validity of six of the team’s trademarks to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  Several Native American Petitioners have claimed that the Redskins’ name and logo are disparaging and offensive to Native Americans – making them barred from trademark protection under the Lanham Act.  Jesse A. Witten, counsel for the Native Americans, noted, “We are focused on the word “Redskin’ and no other matter.  ‘Redskin’ is an…
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Choice of Law Provisions Bar NFL Player’s Workers’ Compensation Claims

A group of 15 former National Football League (NFL) players, including former Buffalo Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel, have asked the California Northern District Court to overturn a ruling of an arbitrator who concluded that players could not file for workers’ compensation in California due to choice of law provisions in their contracts.  The defendants include the NFL, the Buffalo Bills, and the New York Giants. Under California law, players who have played at least one or more football games in California (even though they…
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The Fight Over Legalized Sports Betting Begins

In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, 26 USC 3701, to ban sports gambling outside states where it was already established (Nevada, and to much lesser extents, Delaware, Montana and Oregon) as of the time of the statute. In 2012, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a law allowing for wagering on the outcome of sporting events at racetracks and at Atlantic City casinos, and Governor Chris Christie signed that into law. The four major North American sports leagues, plus the…
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NFL’s Squeeze Play Forces “Harbowl” Trademark Owner to Forfeit Rights

Last year Roy Fox got to thinking – what if NFL Head Coaches and brothers Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) ended up facing each other in the Super Bowl?  With that thought in mind, Fox went out and spent over $1,000 to file trademark applications for the terms “Harbowl” and “Harbaugh Bowl.”  The NFL was not pleased by Fox’s play.  Shortly before the 2012-2013 season began, the League contacted Fox with concerns that his trademarks could become confused with the…
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Concussion Link to Seau Suicide?

Junior Seau committed suicide nearly eight months ago via self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  Now, reports composed by three independent neurologists have confirmed that Seau – the 20 year NFL veteran linebacker and long-time San Diego Charger – suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or “CTE.”  As described by an ESPN report, this condition is a “progressive disease associated with repeated head trauma.”   CTE has only recently been identified as a potential side effect of playing professional football, a game where players often experience repeated…
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Insurance Companies Score First in Battle For Home-Field Advantage in Case to Decide Forum For Coverage Issues in Concussion Cases

There is something about home-field advantage.  Maybe it’s the hometown fans there to cheer on their team, or maybe it’s the familiarity of the venue.  Whatever it is, almost every team would rather play on their home turf.  And this brings us to one of the bigger disputes associated with the NFL concussion lawsuits. In August 2012, the NFL and its current and past insurance companies began posturing for their own home-field advantage of sorts to decide coverage issues in the concussion lawsuits brought by…
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Tagliabue Issues Balancing Act Ruling in Pay for Performance

On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, in a balancing act that even Solomon could probably appreciate, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue issued his written opinion (posted at NFL.com) in the pay-for-performance scandal which has plagued the New Orleans Saints. The pay-for-performance scheme created incentives for Saints’ players to render “opposing players unable to play.” In issuing his opinion, Tagliabue noted his belief that it is in the best interest of all parties for me to resolve this issue as completely as possible, so that…
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Fantasy Sports: A Real Game-Changer for Employers

“The number of Americans playing in fantasy football leagues has grown exponentially of late, transforming what was once a pastime of a devoted few into a national sensation,” write Goldberg Segalla attorneys Seth L. Laver and Michael P. Luongo. “Most employers are cognizant of the importance of maintaining up-to-date computer use policies, social media protocols and other important workplace regulations, yet they inexplicably miss regulating participation in fantasy sports. Make no mistake, however: fantasy sports has real world implications on the workplace.” This article…
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NFL Potentially Takes Another Hit in the Concussion Litigation

The latest story in the NFL class action concussion lawsuit spells more potential trouble for the league.  Late last week, news surfaced that the NFL’s retirement board had prior knowledge of the potentially devastating effects caused by long-term head injuries incurred throughout the course of a football career.  In particular, the board’s at-issue report indicated that the league had paid more than $2 million in disability benefits to certain players who had suffered brain injuries, noting that one of those players (ex-Pittsburgh Steeler center Mike…
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