Posted on: August 13, 2009 11:34 am

Punishments, Part 3

Donte Stallworth might be my favorite punching bag. Well, he deserves it. Today, Roger Goddell suspended Stallworth for the entire season. This presents and interesitng quesiton in the legal sense. In 2008, Stallworth signed a five year contract. How does the suspension affect the years of the contract? When he comes back, he will have presumably, three years remaining on the contract. But should he? In the law, there is a concept of tolling, where a statute of limitations to initiate legal action may be extended if certain conditions persist. Should Stallworth's contract be tolled? Stallworth would probably prefer it, given that it ensures his employment and payment, and the contract was pretty high given his production. Further, he will have diminished eanring potential at the end of his contract, as he will be older and have fewer productive years. The Browns may not want it tolled, given the fact he is a public relations nightmare. I am not aware of policies in professional sports with respect to tolling contracts based on suspensions, but if it has not been considered, it would be interesting to see if the players union attempts to initiate a tolling proposal.
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:45 pm

Following Up On Punishments

Is there something in the NFL gatorade? There is word coming down that Michael Vick will be suspended for the season. The man served hard time, owes millions, and is seeking to repair relationships with the advocacy groups who were most appalled by his actions. But, at the same time, there is a lack of clarity on Donte Stallworth, a man who got drunk, high, and killed a man. There is similar ambiguity on Plaxico Burress, a man who shot himself in the leg because like a moron, he brough a gun to a night club. Roger Goddell has set a strong standard since his elevation. Donte Stallworth might need to consider his NFL career at an end. He should be lucky to be free at the moment. Plaxico Burress deserves a 12 game suspension. His stupidity only hurt himself. Michael Vick should be allowed to use his talent and celebrity to pay his creditors, and support the Humane Society. Garnish his salary to the point where he would be taking home about 15 dollars an hour, or something equivalent to the construction job he would have had. Let the man who served his pennance provide for restitution in the only way he knows how. And until Stallworth announces a deal with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, starts doing some PSAs, or otherwise shows real contrition, do not allow him the privilege of playing in the National Football League.
Posted on: June 13, 2009 1:13 pm

Just Punishments

The system of punishments in professional sports is flawed. Especially in baseball, where an appeal stays the punishment, and pitchers who are suspended may not even miss a start because they might be able to be shifted in the rotation. I believe that all sports should adopt a more just punishment policy. Specifically, the player who commits the penalty should, if possible, be suspended for a future game against the team where the suspended player committed the infraction. If Brad Penny throws a ball at Alex Rodriguez and misses a game against the Seattle Mariners, no one cares. He should be forced to miss a game against the Yankees. Now, at certain times, this punishment is not possible, such as later in the season when teams do not play each other again. In some situations, those punishments could be assessed in the playoffs.

This system would be an enhanced deterrent against misconduct. It would mean that players would need to keep their heads in more competitive games, and even more so at the end of the season. But players should not shrug off suspensions because in effect, players still have some control over when they serve. It would be as if a parent grounded their child on a Thursday, and the child appealed the punishment until Tuesday, choosing to stay home Tuesday and Wednesday nights. What kind of punishment is that?
Category: General
Posted on: January 8, 2009 1:04 pm

Utah's BCS Argument is more than B.S.

The Attorney General of Utah makes a strong point in his claim for an antitrust violation. The University of Utah is a public school, making it an entity of the state of Utah. The attorney general is the lawyer for the state, so there is an indirect representation. Importantly, the state is responsible for funding the university. The University, if it had won the national championship, would be awarded roughly 17.5 million (the estimated payout from the current BCS Championship Game). The attorney general needs to make the claim that the NCAA has colluded with the six BCS conferences to functionally make it impossible for a non-BCS school to be eligible for the Championship game. Unfortunately for Utah, the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl do not mandate that a BCS conference school play in the game. This, to some degree, makes the BCS open and not a situation of collusion. The attorney general could make the argument that it is not reasonably practical that a non-BCS school makes it to the championship. In fact, no BCS Championship Game has ever featured a non-BCS school, and the WAC and the MWC are the only conferences to have teams in the BCS aside from Notre Dame. It isn't the best case because there isn't clear exclusivity, but the historial trends can lend a point that there has been some collusion. The only issue will be whether or not the BCS draws it out, and says that basically, Utah's position is a function of their placment in the rankings and their strength of schedule, placing the onus on Utah to convince more sportswriters of their worth and play tougher opponents. If the BCS is successful in such an argument, there would obviously be no collusion.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 18, 2008 11:21 am

Ultimate Game of Horse

It is well known how much a basketball fan President elect Brack Obama is. His brother in law coaches Oregon State, he used to play, he still gets much of his physical fitness and stress relief from playing, and he had some public fun with the North Carolina Tar Heels during the campaign. Recently, it was made public knowledge that two of his appointees, General Jim Jones and Arne Duncan, also played college ball, with Jones playing for the Georgetown Hoyas and Duncan for the Harvard Crimson. What is not truly public knowledge is the affection Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has for the game. Roberts is a fixture at Hoyas games at the Verizon Center, and is rumored to play frequently at "The Highest Court In The Land," the basketball court on the third floor of the Supreme Court building. What a game it could be to see Jones, Obama, Roberts and Duncan playing a little 2 on 2 or a game of horse. Imagine all the legal and policy decisions which could be discussed with such a brain trust. Craig Robinson has said in Time Magazine that he hopes Obama builds a court at the White House so he could shoot hoops there. Maybe he would settle for the Supreme Court, if his shot doesn't get blocked by the Chief Justice.
Posted on: November 28, 2008 1:08 pm

Stephon Marbury

This could become an incredibly juicy legal situation. Stephon Marbury has been suspended by the Knicks for refusing the play. This suspension will likely continue until Marbury agrees to play. With game checks around 200K per game, that's a lot of green. The crucial issue here is that Marbury has been completely ostracized by the staff (D'Antoni) and by his teammates (Quentin Richardson). He seems to have two options. He sticks it out and keeps up his attitude, which will mean he wont get paid. He would likely lose any grievance. The Knicks could show that the contract doesn't guarantee him status as a starter and they are not infringing upon his ability to play. Is he being denied access to practice time, trainers, coaches, etc? It doesn't look like it, and just because the coach doesn't like talking to you and doesn't pay attention to you doesn't mean they aren't available, technically. Stephon's other option is to play the garbage minutes and third string role D'Antoni has designed for him. This would be a crushing blow to a guy who has a gigantic ego. But he would get his money. It is a stand-off in actuality, and D'Antoni and Walsh are currently winning.

The truly sexy part of all this is, what if Marbury decides to play and tanks the game. Say he stands around, doesn't play defense, throw up ridiculous shots, etc. Could the Knicks make an argument for tortious interference with a business relationship or contract? Possibly. This would involve an indepth examination of Marbury's contract and what it calls for him to do. If he causes the Knicks to lose games, and other players lose potential performance based bonsues, Marbury could be sued by his own teammates. This would be hard to prove of course, but it would be incredibly interesting to watch. Starbury might be well advised to accept a buyout rather than test the suspension in front of the league office. It looks like Donnie Walsh may have outsmarted him on this one.

Posted on: October 25, 2008 3:38 pm

Change We Can Believe In

Joe Gibbs is a saint in Washington D.C. He is king. If he ran for mayor, he'd win in about 30 seconds. He brought so much pride to this town not only for winning three championships, but winning one with a black quarterback. In a city that's about 70% black, that's big time. He left us this past year for varying reasons, to be replaced by a guy none of us had ever heard of. But Jim Zorn is quietly easing us into the next generation of coaching greatness. He is the genuine article, inspiring million dollar athletes with cheers like hip hip horay! With this guy, running this team, we are moving on and having a new generation to admire. With Zorn, we should include current coach of the year Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals, and perhaps the quartet of young athletes who lead this town in Alexander Ovechkin, Gilbert Arenas, Clinton Portis and Ryan Zimmerman. D.C. youth should look up to these men, all of whom have success and some of whom have interesting and oversized personalities. In a time where we may be moving politically towards a new generation in American politics, hopefully in D.C., we can appreciate and value the change in our athletes and sports leadership.
Posted on: October 5, 2008 4:51 pm

Who is really guilty of fraud?

This week's events with Lane Kiffin and Al Davis are very interesting from a legal perspective. Davis is attempting not to pay Kiffin on account of alleged fraud. The rumor is that the substance of fraud is that Kiffin flirted with a college job in the offseason. Davis will have a difficult time in proving fraud. He would have to show that there were misleading statements and Kiffin acted on them. Considering how vocal Davis has been in criticizing Kiffin, he would have trouble making his case. He has barred Kiffin from defensive meetings, and didn't give him control over his coaching staff. This was promised to him when he joined the team. He could make a claim that Davis acted fraudulently to him. Davis will likely settle out of court and pay Kiffin most of what is due without it being publically known. Unless Kiffin was attempting to tank the Raiders from the start of this season, Davis will have trouble making the claim. This would be strange, considering that Kiffin, known to be an offensive guru, improved the Raiders offense statistically significantly during his brief tenure.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or