As many on this blog know, I am an avid football fan (Bears, of course) and my love for the sport is only equaled by my long-standing contempt for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. However, the recent decision of State Civil District Court Judge Nicole Sheppard of New Orleans to order Goodell and three officials to be deposed over the infamous “no-call” play last year is baffling. All of us immediately cried out after flagrant passer interference by the Los Angeles Rams was missed by officials (the only people in the universe who appear to have missed the violation). The failure likely cost the New Orleans Saints a return to the Superbowl. However, I cannot see how such a failure can possibly be judicable case for fraud. A no call is no case in my view.
Attorney Antonio LeMon was quite clever in filing his lawsuit. A die-hard Saints fan, LeMon’s lawsuit alleges fraud, unjust enrichment and “detrimental reliance.” All other lawsuits were moved to federal court where they were promptly dismissed. LeMon set his damages and claims in a way to keep the matter in state court and has now succeeded in forcing depositions. That is a remarkable feat. LeMon is seeking $75,000, which will be donated to charity.
The NFL, in signature Goodell fashion, portrays fans as virtually dumb corralled animals in jerseys. It argues that the fan hold tickets that are “merely a revocable license allowing entrance to the stadium and a place from which to watch a particular game.”
However, a bad case does not a fraud case make.
Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman’s his helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Tommylee Lewis should have been called for pass interference or roughness. On that point, there is unanimity. Even Robey-Coleman acknowledged as much after the game. Yet, this seems more visceral than legal — an opportunity (no doubt relished by all Saints fans) to pummel the NFL in a deposition.
I cannot hide some thrill in having a fan grill Goodell on any subject, but this is not the most credible. Of course, deposing Goodell on decades of ripping off fans and treating them like utter scum would take days of deposition.