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Saturday, August 11, 2007
How Dangerous is Wrestling? Some Thoughts on Pacman Jones, Injunctions, and "Other Activities"

The past few days have seen a flurry of activity relating to suspended Tennessee Titans player Pacman Jones. On Thursday, Jones appeared via tape on a "Total Nonstop Action" Wrestling broadcast (you can view a TNA trailer featuring Jones here). Jones did not wrestle, but rather opined about how misunderstood he was, and his performance garnered mixed reviews. On Friday, the Titans went to court to obtain a temporary restraining order barring Jones from participating in future TNA broadcasts.

The Team won an injunction (I have not yet seen the written ruling on line), with Judge Robert E. Lee Davies ruling that "Mr. Jones is hereby restrained from providing any 'wrestling' or 'performing services' to TNA ... including but not limited to the TNA Hard Justice pay-per-view event ... for as long as this restraining order is in effect." The injunction barred "Jones from participating in any TNA event, as a 'wrestler, spectator, announcer, participant or otherwise . . . .'" Jones and the Titans settled their dispute overnight, with the team agreeing to allow Jones to appear on TNA broadcasts so long as he did not actually wrestle or do anything else to put himself in danger.

The Court's injunction was based on the "Other Activities Clause" in Jones's contract. I blogged about baseball's Other Activities Clause in connection with the Nintendo Wii here and football's in connection with motorcycle riding here. The NFL version of the clause provides:
OTHER ACTIVITIES. Without prior written consent of the Club, Player will not play football or engage in activities related to football otherwise than for Club or engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury. Player represents that he has special, exceptional and unique knowledge, skill, ability, and experience as a football player, the loss of which cannot be estimated with any certainty and cannot be fairly or adequately compensated by damages. Player therefore agrees that Club will have the right, in addition to any other right which Club may possess, to enjoin Player by appropriate proceedings from playing football or engaging in football-related activities other than for Club or from engaging in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.
In Pacman's case, the preliminary injunction clearly went too far. The Other Activities Clause forbids a player from engaging in activities involving a "significant risk" of personal injury. To be sure, actually wrestling might pose such a risk, although that depends on how acrobatic Jones's (scripted) performance worked out to be. But I fail to see how "performing services" for an entertainment company, like TNA, including the kind Jones apparently provided on Thursday, raises a significant risk of physical injury. Certainly, appearing on air while not wrestling is less dangerous than riding a motorcycle (and probably less dangerous than playing the Wii as well).


I absolutely agree with this post. The judge and the team clearly overstepped their boundaries by forbidding Pacman from engaging in non-physical activities which pose no risk to his person or health status.

At a certain point, legal contracts become meaningless due to their limits on constitutionally protected rights. In this case, forbidding Pacman from pursuing free enterprise, which in no way hinders his current employer, is legally irresponsible and contrary to the American spirit of capitalism.

Anonymous Jason Chung -- 8/12/2007 11:43 PM  

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