Sports Law Blog
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thoughts on Michael Vick's Guilty Plea, Supersonics' Possible Move, and new NFL-Related EEOC Claims
Some thoughts and links on various topics:
Michael Vick Guilty Plea
I have a new Sports Illustrated.com column on Michael Vick's trial, entitled "What's Next for Vick After Guilty Plea." I hope you get a chance to read it. I know I said my column, "Sports and the Law," would run once a month, but it may run more regularly.
I was also interviewed for a story by Tim Tucker in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled "Vick's Wasted Fortune of Epic Proportions." It's an excellent article, particularly for those of you interested in how the Falcons can get their money back from Vick--who may end up losing over $100 million. I also discussed this topic in an interview with Chris Clark of Sports Radio 850 (Raleigh, North Carolina)--thanks to Chris for having me on last night.
Can Seattle Keep the Sonics?
The Sonics may have received a breath of fresh air in the off season by adding two outstanding young players in Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. But the people of Seattle may not enjoy the franchise's resurgence for long, as Sonics' owners, dissatisfied with the city-owned KeyArena and frustrated by the city's reluctance to build a new arena, want to move the team to Oklahoma City. Their capacity to do so may come down to a specific performance clause in the Sonics' contract with the KeyArena.
I discussed the significance of the specific performance clause with Jim Brunner in his terrific Seattle Times story on the topic entitled "Can Lease Keep Sonics Here?" (and many thanks to Jim for linking to Sports Law Blog on the Times' website--and a welcome to those of you who came to our blog from the Times). Jim also interviews University of Alabama Law Professor Alfred Brophy, who writes for PropertyProf Blog, for the story.
Be sure to also check out Henry Abbott's excellent coverage of the Supersonics possibly moving on True Hoop.
Odell Thurman and Torrie Cox filed EEOC claims against NFL
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Roy Tarpley's successful EEOC claim against the NBA. Tarpley, a longtime alcohol and drug abuser, based his claim on the American with Disabilities Act. The post generated a number of terrific reader comments, and I appreciate all of those who commented.
We now see two suspended NFL players, Odell Thurman of the Cincinnati Bengals and Torrie Cox of the Tampa Bay Bucs filling discrimination claims with the EEOC. Both players claim that they were suspended for being alcoholics in violation of the ADA, and they cite Tarpley's successful claim as support for their proposition.
University of Mississippi School of Law Professor Paul Secunda, who is Chair of the AALS Section on Employment Discrimination Law and an editor of Workplace Prof Blog, examines the claims and how those currently abusing alcohol are not covered by the ADA, while those who have a record of alcoholism and have received treatment are considered disabled for purposes of the ADA. Paul's post is a great read.
Additional great comments on these claims come from David Fischer, who practices at Shook Hardy & Bacon in D.C. and is an editor of Antitrust Review. He lays out the claim:
Odell Thurman, a young, promising but deeply troubled linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals filed a disability complaint with the EEOC against the Bengals and the NFL claiming he is being discriminated against because he is perceived as an alcoholic. Not surprisingly, Thurman's lawyer mentions the Tarpley case . . .