Tarnished Twenty - The FindLaw Sports Law Blog - features sports law news and info about sports figures in trouble with the law


Former San Francisco Forty-Niner QB Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance and demand for arbitration against the NFL and all 32 member teams, alleging "NFL team owners, NFL employees, and team employees, have entered into and enforced, implied and/or express agreements to specifically deprive Claimant Colin Kaepernick from employment in the NFL," in violation of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The free has been out of football since the end of the 2016, during which he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest instances of police brutality specifically, and racial inequality in the United States generally. His grievance claims those protest led to the NFL and team owners to blackball him from the league.

No, this is not a new Naked Gun movie, nor is it the plot to the newest refresh of Dragnet, Police Squad, Hot Fuzz, Super Troopers, or Team America. NYPD officer extraordinaire, James Frascatore, has likely been living in a personal hell since, arguably, making the biggest mistake of his career: tackling and cuffing international tennis star James Blake.

However, now that Frascatore has hopefully been thoroughly made to regret his actions, he is filing a defamation lawsuit against the celebrity tennis star he tackled, the publisher of Blake's latest book, the city of New York, the NYPD, and others. The cop's lawsuit claims that the statements each made regarding the incident caused him reputational harm, and even led to members of the public making threats of violence against him and his family.

As most college sports fans tell themselves, student-athletes choose a school based on the quality of education, coaching, and overall program an institution has to offer, with some consideration to proximity to home and stylishness of uniforms. And while that may be true for some, or even most college athletes, astute observers of the college game have known there have been different forces driving recruiting for some time.

Some of those dark arts were laid bare this week, when the FBI announced the arrests of ten people, including four college basketball coaches, a sports apparel executive, and multiple financial advisers.

On April 19, 2017, Aaron Hernandez was found hanging by his bed sheets in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts. The former Florida Gator and New England Patriot had been serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez's asked that his brain be studied for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and doctors at the Boston University CTE Center confirmed Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of four) brain injuries, allegedly "the most severe case of [CTE] medically seen" in a person at his age.

Hernandez's fiancee Shayanna Jenkins is now suing the Patriots and the NFL on behalf of the couple's four-year-old daughter, Avielle Janelle Hernandez, seeking $20 million in damages for loss of parental consortium.

Charles Oakley, New York Knickerbockers legend, was kicked out of a Knicks game last February, after which James Dolan, current Knicks owner and executive chairman of Madison Square Garden, speculated that Oakley may have a problem with alcohol and anger management issues.

Those assertions, and the forcible removal of Oakley from MSG that night, were a step too far for the power forward, who sued Dolan and MSG for defamation, libel, slander, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

One response to the ongoing arguments about concussions and head injuries in football has been: "They're adults; football is a contact sport; they knew the risk; and they played anyway." This can be persuasive if the third element is true. In a legal sense as well, an assumption of risk implies another assumption: that the person taking the risk knew of the danger and voluntarily exposed themselves to it.

But what if someone wasn't aware of the danger involved? What if players were misled about the science behind concussions and their prevalence in football? Or if a single player was denied the truth about his medical condition? That's the basis of one former player's lawsuit against Notre Dame.

If you can remember back that far, in early 2016 a tattoo studio sued a video game company for depicting NBA players' tattoos for which they had allegedly not paid licensing fees. In the realm of fringe copyright lawsuits, this was one of the strangest -- after all, it wasn't the athletes themselves arguing that the game engineers were using the ink on their skin without compensation, but a tattoo studio arguing rights to artists' designs and work.

As it turns out, that battle is still raging in a New York federal court, where the video game company is arguing that its use of the tattoos amounts to fair use under copyright laws.

Fortunately for me, my not-so-illustrious baseball career ended long before being forced to stand in the batter's box while coaches hurled balls at my hip and rib cage, in order to teach me "muscle memory to avoid potential injuries in an actual game." Getting hit with a baseball, even a training ball that is supposedly lightweight and soft, is not a pleasant experience.

Not so pleasant that a mom whose son participated in the drill reported the coaches to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services and the Knox County Sheriff's Office. But after an investigation found no wrongdoing, the coaches have turned the table, suing the mother for defamation, false light, outrageous conduct, and intentional interference with economic advantage.

The battle between Pete Rose, best known for having the most hits all-time in baseball and also being banned from the sport, and John Dowd, best known for preparing the report that got Rose banned, continues, and continues to get ugly. In court documents obtained by ESPN, Rose allegedly had a sexual relationship with a woman for several years in the 1970s that began before she turned 16.

The woman's affidavit is part of a defamation lawsuit filed by Rose against Dowd, who claimed in a 2015 radio interview that the former Cincinnati Reds great had underage girls delivered to him at spring training.

It's possible that Joshua Hanshaw was just a fan looking for some souvenirs when he broke into Appalachian Power Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league affiliate, the West Virginia Power. After all, Hanshaw is wearing hitting coach Ryan Long's jersey in his mug shot following his arrest.

But that probably wasn't the case, as the reportedly homeless Hanshaw looted the Power's locker room for almost $4,000 worth of players' personal items like sunglasses, shoes, and toiletries that had been pre-packed for the team's upcoming road trip. Oh, and the jersey, too.