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


Head football coach at Michigan Jim Harbaugh has no discernible political axes to grind, and yet many irons in the fire, as it were. While Harbaugh is known attack topics with "an enthusiasm unknown to mankind," he has remained coy about where he stands when it comes to Republicans versus Democrats. But he was clearly unhappy about one aspect of President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts.

Harbaugh, along with his coaching, is a part of the leaders council of the Legal Services Corp, a government agency tasked with providing free legal aid in civil cases to over millions of low-income Americans. The coach spoke candidly with Politico and didn't pull any punches regarding his displeasure about budget plans to defund LSC, sounding more like a second-year law student with a bleeding heart than the blustery sideline presence he appears to be during games.

A Miami jury convicted agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada on conspiracy and alien smuggling charges relating to trafficking Cuban baseball players into the U.S. The trial featured vivid testimony from players who spoke about kidnapping attempts and murder on their way through several Central American countries.

Hernandez and Estrada are facing a combined 50 years in prison -- their sentencing is scheduled for July 11.

In the never-ending saga of the NFL players' class action lawsuits against teams and the league, new information has surfaced about many teams' alleged failure to comply with federal drug laws. The allegations include claims that several teams' athletic trainers, doctors, and staff were administering and providing prescription drugs in clear violation of federal laws, even after the DEA cautioned teams against doing so. This class action suit involves close to 2,000 former players who suffered injury or damages as a result of these actions.

The new information came to light as a result of the discovery process in the player class action that was initially alleging that teams were pushing players to take painkillers in order to be able to perform better on the field. The reason the class action was allowed to continue in court, rather than being forced into arbitration like some other player actions have been, is due to the illegal conduct surrounding the administration of the federal controlled prescription drugs.

Plenty of fans and maybe even some players have had their suspicions that a referee or umpire might be under the influence during a game. Few can say they've seen an official arrested for just that offense while the game was still going on.

Count those attending a Princeville (AL) High School junior varsity baseball game among those few, as umpire Derek Bryant was arrested for public intoxication with just one inning left in the game.

The Minor Leaguers' class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball and various ball clubs over minimum wage violations has been brought back from the dead. The class of Minor League players was decertified back in July of last year due to concerns that relief for the class could not be determined with certainty. The most recent ruling recertifies a new class, which allows the case to move forward, though it is now seeking more narrowly tailored relief.

The primary allegations of the class action suit claim that Minor League players are grossly undercompensated and also do not receive overtime wages from the their employers. These allegations are based on the fact that players are not compensated for off season training, spring training, extended spring training, and instructional leagues, that are essentially required if the players want to play.

Ever since the 1950's, football players from high school to the NFL have participated in the "Oklahoma Drill." Developed by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma, the drill pits two players battling for yardage in a confined space. Often starting with both players having a 3-yard head of steam, the Oklahoma Drill is defined by a "helmet-popping collision, testing the resolve of those involved with their teammates and coaches watching on."

Given recent research on concussions in football and especially head-to-head contact, many teams have phased out the drill to protect players. But a former player from Pennsylvania claims the drill caused him a traumatic head injury, post traumatic stress, and "will adversely affect his life."

While the traditional madness that accompanies the month of March may inspire illegal office pools, this year, sports gambling advocates are hoping the madness inspires congress to repeal the federal ban on sports betting. Despite the fact that the federal ban on sports betting has been in place for nearly three decades now, if you're a gambler, you might want to put your money on that law not being there much longer. Currently, there are two bills being considered to repeal the ban.

With the new executive administration now in power, and President Trump's previous ownership of an Atlantic City casino that couldn't allow sports betting due to federal law, as well as Trump's not-so-explicitly-stated support of legalizing sports gambling, proponents are looking to address this issue now, while the time is right (for them). 

Athletes frequently get injured, even when players wear padding or play non-contact sports. Some injuries are just accidents, while others are the result of unsatisfactory coaching, refereeing, or a complete lack of supervision.

If it is determined that a coach was negligent, they can be held liable for the injuries sustained by their players that are a result of the negligence. Because of this potential for liability, it is a rather important for coaches to ensure they are covered by some form of liability insurance. Fortunately, if a coach works for a school, or other organization, they are likely already covered. 

The prescription painkiller epidemic has led to more medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors for negligently prescribing pain medication. Those claims have begun to bleed into sports as well, with hundreds of former NFL players accusing the league and team doctors of illegally providing painkilling drugs to players and encouraging them to play despite serious injuries.

So can athletes sue doctors for prescribing opiates or painkillers? And what do they need to prove to win?

Football is a dangerous sport. Even though professional players get paid big salaries, when a player is injured playing the game, they can still qualify for workers' compensation like any other employee. Although workers' comp laws vary from state to state, generally, so long as an employee's injury occurs on the job, that employee will likely qualify for workers' comp if the injury renders them unable to work.

However, in Illinois and other states, the professional sports leagues are attempting to get legislation passed that would limit a professional athlete's ability to recover from workers' comp. for injuries suffered while performing. What makes these proposals so controversial is the fact that over the last decade, more and more information is being learned about player concussions and the many different permanent injuries that can manifest years after a player retires.