Ezekiel Elliott Gets Hail Mary; Set to Play on Sunday

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) emergency motion for a temporary order blocking Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. The order blocks the six-game suspension for domestic violence that Elliott has faced all season and will allow Elliott to play in Sunday’s (November 5, 2017) game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Second Circuit Judge granted Elliott’s request to stay his suspension and the issue will be referred to the next available three-judge panel to expedite the appeal process. The National Football League Management Council claimed there was nothing unfair about the original arbitration decision and that blocking the suspension could lead to issues in enforceability of the collective bargaining agreement. In its motion for the temporary order blocking the suspension, the NFLPA argued, “[a]bsent expedited relief from ...
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NCAA Dribbles the Idea of Fundamental Internal Change

NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics on October 30, 2017 and asserted that major changes are needed in college basketball to demonstrate to the public that the NCAA can properly run the sport. “We cannot go to the next basketball season without seeing fundamental change in the way college basketball is operated,” Emmert said. “The public doesn’t have sufficient confidence in any of us in terms of our ability to resolve these issues.” Emmert cited to a recent NCAA-commissioned poll, which found widespread distrust in both the NCAA and its schools, with 79 percent of Americans agreeing with the statement that major colleges put money ahead of the interests of their athletes. His comments come in the wake of a bribery scandal that ensnared ...
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NFLPA Fumbles Emergency Stay of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension; Appeals to Second Circuit

In yet another move to try to delay Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, the NFL Players Association made an emergency motion seeking a temporary order blocking the suspension. The motion came less than a day after U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, on October 30th, had denied the NFLPA’s motion for a preliminary injunction to block the suspension while the appeals process continues. Judge Failla quickly denied the request, saying it would “in effect … reverse [her] decision of [Monday] evening denying the NFLPA’s motion for injunctive relief.” Judge Failla wrote she was “surprised” by the motion, as she had explicitly provided a 24-hour stay in her Monday Order to give the parties the chance to appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She refused to question her ...
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WWE Alleges Attorney Improperly Solicited Wrestlers in Royalty Suit

On October 27, 2017, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) accused attorney Matthew Peterson of soliciting former wrestlers to join a royalty suit against WWE. WWE requested the court compel Peterson to provide documents and testimony that were previously denied under claims of privilege and improper instructions not to answer questions during the deposition. Specifically, WWE seeks a March 2016 email from Peterson to plaintiff Scott “Raven” Levy, and the same plaintiff to testify about a meeting with co-plaintiff Marcus “Buff” Bagwell. The lawsuits filed by Peterson were the first suits filed that WWE performers claimed entitlement to royalties for their work on the WWE Network. The suit was filed in August 2016 and alleged that WWE failed to pay Bagwell and other wrestlers millions in royalties for pay-per-views and matches ...
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Ezekiel Elliott Back on the Bench as Suspension Reinstated

After hearing arguments from the NFL and the NFL Players Association, U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla denied Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott’s request for a preliminary injunction to block his six-game suspension. The decision comes only two weeks after the same court had granted Elliott’s request for a temporary restraining order that had then frozen the suspension. This was Elliott’s second request for a preliminary injunction since he received the suspension on August 11 following domestic violence allegations. The first request had been granted by a federal judge in Texas on September 8, but the injunction was lifted by the Fifth Circuit on October 12. Judge Failla agreed with the NFL’s contention that it followed the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and held the NFL’s interest in rooting out domestic violence ...
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Rutgers Goes on the Defensive in Trademark Infringement Suit

A New Jersey apparel company, Anger Sports, sued Rutgers University and an assistant head coach of Rutgers’ football team for trademark infringement earlier this month. Anger Sports, which owns the wordmark “Rare Breed Athletics,” registered its logos in May 2016. The company is alleging that the Scarlet Knights’ assistant head coach, A.J. Blazek, posted images on social media in February 2017 of a logo, confusingly similar to the Anger Sports logo, which is meant to represent the offensive line of Rutgers’ football team. The twitter posts also used hashtags that Anger Sports alleges infringes on its wordmark. Rutgers and Blazek had represented that they would stop using the marks, but in September, Rutgers and Blazek allegedly created and starting using a second confusingly similar image. Rutgers football’s position groups go ...
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Washington School District Urges Ninth Circuit to Uphold its Suspension of Football Coach for Praying on Fifty-Yard Line

On October 13, 2017 Bremerton School District, a Washington state district, urged the Ninth Circuit to maintain its ruling that the school had the right to stop a football coach from praying on the field after games, hitting back at claims that the ruling was in opposition of the First Amendment. In August, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction by the school’s former football coach Joseph Kennedy, who accused the school of violating his First Amendment rights by prohibiting him from praying on the fifty-yard line immediately after football games. The prayers had started with just Kennedy on the field, but some players joined in over the years, and the prayers evolved into short motivational speeches. Although the praying took place after the games, students and ...
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Florida Law Professor Requests Argument Before Court on Sports Betting

On October 17, 2017, Florida State University professor Ryan Rodenberg asked the U.S. Supreme Court in an amicus brief to consider all of its options before ruling on a challenge to a federal sports betting ban. Rodenberg, whose research is in sports law analytics, requested the court to grant him five minutes in oral arguments to argue that the court should rule based on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) without ruling on the law’s constitutionality. Rodenberg’s amicus brief is his latest contribution in which he previously backed New Jersey and a thoroughbred horse owners and trainers group that requested the Supreme Court to review whether New Jersey can selectively repeal its anti-sports betting laws concerning casinos and horse race tracks without violating PASPA. Then, in July, Rodenberg ...
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Class Action Concussion Suit Earns a First Down Against Pop Warner Youth Football

Parents in a class action suit gained yardage against Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc, the nation’s largest youth football league. On Friday, October 20th, 2017, California U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez refused to blow the whistle on claims that Pop Warner failed to institute league-wide guidelines and increased the risk of head injury to its players. “Pop Warner Little Scholars argues that the fraud claims fail because head trauma is an inherent risk of tackle football,” the judge wrote, but what the parents are alleging is “that PWLS misrepresented that safety was its top priority, with coaches trained in head injuries, equipment that afforded the best protection, and rules and procedures designed to protect children from injury — all with the knowledge that none of this was true, to ...
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NFL Concussion Litigation Faces Fight Over Selling Settlement Proceeds

On October 13, 2017, class counsel in the National Football League concussion litigation asked a Pennsylvania federal judge to rule that an uncapped settlement agreement prohibits players from assigning their payouts to a third party. The motions stem from a hearing in July that addressed concerns that players who would benefit from an uncapped settlement were being improperly solicited by claim assistance providers who may be giving misleading offers. Then, in a September hearing, class counsel warned the judge that many players made deals with third-party claims processors or lenders that offered advances against their awards. Many of those deals include high fees and interest rates. At the September hearing, class counsel specifically warned against RD Legal Funding LLC. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) earlier in the year sued ...
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