Oct 16, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich celebrates after a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. The Cougars won 34-31. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Rolovich sues Washington State over vaccine-related dismissal

Former Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich filed a lawsuit against the university, its athletic director Pat Chun and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seeking damages after he was dismissed last season for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Washington State fired Rolovich and four of his assistant coaches for cause in October 2021 because they didn’t comply with the state’s vaccine mandate at the time. All state employees were required to be vaccinated by Oct. 19 of that year.

Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption and was denied.

Rolovich’s attorney, Brian Fahling, said in October 2021 that his client planned to pursue legal action. A tort claim was filed earlier this year as a prerequisite for the 32-page lawsuit, which was officially filed Friday.

It was originally reported by the Seattle Times that Rolovich sought $25 million in damages in the claim, but the suit does not specify how much he is seeking.

“Mr. Rolovich’s lawsuit against Washington State University is wholly without merit,” a school spokesperson said in a statement to multiple outlets.

“Washington State University carried out the Governor’s COVID-19 vaccination proclamation for state employees in a fair and lawful manner, including in its evaluation of employee requests for medical or religious exemptions and accommodations. For multiple reasons, Mr. Rolovich did not qualify, and the university firmly stands by that decision. Washington State University will vigorously defend itself against Mr. Rolovich’s claims.”

Rolovich was the state’s highest-paid employee at $3.2 million per year. Yahoo Sports reported at the time of his firing that Rolovich had three years and approximately $9 million left on his contract.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2020; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and his wife Tanya look on as head coach Ron Rivera speaks during his introductory press conference at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. attorney general suing Commanders, Daniel Snyder, NFL

Washington, D.C., attorney general Karl Racine filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Washington Commanders, owner Daniel Snyder and the NFL for “colluding to deceive District residents.”

The lawsuit comes amid a federal criminal probe launched earlier this month into alleged financial improprieties by Snyder and the team.

Racine’s lawsuit contends the Commanders, in lock step with the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, misled fans about steps they were taking to rectify the “toxic workplace culture” within the organization in order to keep them coming to games.

“Faced with public outrage over detailed and widespread allegations of sexual misconduct and a persistently hostile work environment at the Team, Defendants made a series of public statements to convince District consumers that this dysfunctional and misogynistic conduct was limited and that they were fully cooperating with an independent investigation,” the suit reads.

“These statements were false and calculated to mislead consumers so they would continue to support the Team financially without thinking that they were supporting such misconduct.”

Racine alleges that the hiring of attorney Beth Wilkinson to conduct an independent investigation into those workplace allegations was all part of the deception – contending the Commanders didn’t cooperate with the probe they paid to have done.

“Snyder and the Team launched a campaign to interfere with and obstruct the investigation,” the lawsuit states. “Snyder and the Team attempted to prevent witnesses from talking to Wilkinson through payoffs and intimidation and engaged in aggressive, abusive litigation to dig up information on victims and the journalists who reported on Defendants’ misconduct.

“The NFL was fully aware of this intimidation campaign. The course of Defendants’ conduct suggests the NFL was never serious about overseeing a thorough and complete investigation into Snyder and the Team’s misconduct,” the suit goes on.

Snyder’s wife, Tanya, has been in charge of day-to-day operations since July 2021 when the NFL fined the team $10 million for fostering a toxic workplace culture.

A separate federal criminal probe centers on alleged financial improprieties. Investigators from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia are looking into the team’s finances, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The team has said it has done nothing wrong financially.

The discovery of potential financial misconduct came amid the investigation into reported sexual harassment within Washington’s workplace. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform began to look at the financials after combing through 80,000 pages of documents and witness interviews regarding sexual harassment, The Post reported on March 31.

The Snyders hired Bank of America Securities to help with a potential sale of the team earlier this month.

–Field Level Media

Deshaun Watson is serving an 11-game suspension.

Syndication Akron Beacon Journal

Judge orders new Deshaun Watson accuser to reveal name

A judge in Harris County (Texas) District Court ruled Monday that the latest plaintiff suing Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for sexual misconduct must shed her Jane Doe pseudonym and reveal her name.

The plaintiff has 24 hours to comply with the order and amend her petition, per Judge Rabeea Sultan Collier’s ruling in an emergency hearing.

The new accuser, a massage therapist, claims Watson pressured her into a sex act during a massage session in December 2020. Unlike Watson’s previous accusers, she is not represented by attorney Tony Buzbee.

“It’s taken her some time to come forward,” attorney Anissah Nguyen told Fox 8 WJW in Cleveland. “She’s doing it for herself and other women who have been victimized by Deshaun Watson. She knows that by speaking out she is going to have to deal with the hard conversations.”

Per ESPN Monday, another attorney for Jane Doe, Michelle Kornblith, said she was willing to provide Watson’s camp with her client’s name but not make it public.

When Watson was facing the bulk of his lawsuits in 2021, two judges ruled that the plaintiffs must amend their petitions to include their names for the case to proceed. Twenty-two complied and one dropped her suit.

Watson is currently serving an 11-game suspension for off-field conduct violations related to “predatory” behavior involving more than two dozen women who alleged sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior. He was also assessed a $5 million fine.

Watson settled 23 of 24 lawsuits against him during the summer.

–Field Level Media

Sep 27, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) watches from the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Chargers 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

QB Tyrod Taylor sues Chargers’ team doctor over punctured lung

Tyrod Taylor filed a lawsuit seeking at least $5 million for the failed pain-killing injection that punctured his lung in 2020.

ESPN reported Sunday that Taylor sued Los Angeles Chargers team doctor David S. Gazzaniga and the Newport Orthopedic Institute for damages. Taylor was being treated for fractured rib cartilage when an injection targeting that area left him with a punctured lung and forced him out of the lineup to open the door for then-rookie Justin Herbert to become the starter.

Taylor is now the backup to Daniel Jones with the New York Giants.

A trial scheduled for November has been moved to April, ESPN reported based on court documents the network obtained.

Prior to the Sept. 20, 2020 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Taylor was being treated for the rib injury when Gazzaniga instead punctured one of the quarterback’s lungs, causing “severe physical pain resulting in hospitalization, physical therapy, emotional distress and other past pain and suffering,” Taylor says in the suit.

Attorneys in the claim stated “negligence, carelessness and other tortious, unlawful and wrong acts … caused (Taylor) to lose position as the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers for the 2020 season.”

“As he returned to free agency,” the lawsuit contends, “he entered as a back-up quarterback as opposed to a starting quarterback. The economic difference between a starting quarterback’s salary and a back-up quarterback salary is at least $5,000,000 and is more than likely much greater. The exact amount of such past and future loss is unknown to (Taylor) at this time, and he will ask leave of this Court for permission to amend this Complaint to set forth the total amount when ascertained.”

Taylor, 33, is 26-25-1 as a starter and has passed for 10,736 yards, 59 touchdowns and 25 interceptions in 78 games with five NFL teams since 2011. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the Buffalo Bills.

–Field Level Media

Aug 28, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; A general overall view as UCLA Bruins enter the field before the game against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: UCLA to receive $67.5M to settle Under Armour suit

Under Armour will pay UCLA nearly $67.5 million to settle litigation between the two sides, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The dispute has been ongoing for more than two years since Under Armour sought to cancel the record-setting 15-year, $280 million apparel deal they entered into in 2016.

Under Armour sought to exit the deal two years ago, contending, in part, UCLA didn’t provide any marketing benefits to the company during the pandemic in 2020 and because former men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo diminished the company and the school’s brand for his part in the college sports admissions scandal.

UCLA filed suit, and Under Armour countersued when the company logo on some of the school’s team uniforms was covered by a social justice patch.

The Times reported that the two sides reached the settlement earlier this month, and both sides asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss the lawsuits on Thursday and allow the settlement to go forward.

UCLA replaced the Under Armour deal with a six-year, $46.45 million pact signed with Nike and Jordan Brand in December 2020.

“UCLA is one of the most recognized and respected collegiate names around the globe,” Mary Osako, UCLA vice chancellor for strategic communications, said in a statement released to the Times after the settlement. “We are gratified to have resolved this matter in a way that benefits our student-athletes and the entire Bruin community.”

–Field Level Media

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA;  Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson listens to a question during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Deshaun Watson saw 66 therapists; Texans helped with NDA

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson met at least 66 female massage therapists over a 17-month period, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

In addition to the 24 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson, the number also includes several who sued Watson before withdrawing their complaint; filed criminal complaints but didn’t sue; or neither sued nor pursued criminal charges.

The total also includes at least 15 of the therapists who issued statements of support for Watson at the request of his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, last year.

One woman told the Times that Watson “begged” her to perform oral sex on him.

“I specifically had to say, ‘No, I can’t do that,’” the woman said. “And that’s when I went into asking him, ‘What is it like being famous? Like, what’s going on? You’re about to mess up everything.’”

The Times report also revealed that the Houston Texans’ director of security, Brent Naccara, placed a non-disclosure agreement in Watson’s locker that Watson started bringing with him to massages. It occurred in November 2020, when one of the women presently suing Watson posted Watson’s phone number, some of his texts and Cash App receipts on social media and threatened to “expose” him.

Watson said during a deposition that Naccara provided the NDA. Watson played for the Texans until he was traded to the Browns in March. The Texans did not respond to the Times’ specific questions about Naccara and the NDA.

Watson appeared to reply to the latest report with an Instagram post on Tuesday. He quoted lyrics from the song “Rich Off Pain” by Lil Baby and Lil Durk featuring Rod Wave: “See, the blogs can’t break me down, see, I’m the voice, I don’t reply. But the rumors y’all done heard, I’ma humbly deny, yeah, yeah.”

Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on criminal charges earlier this year, but in civil court he faces 24 lawsuits, two of which were filed in the past week.

The 24th woman filed suit Monday, saying Watson exposed himself during a massage, asked her an inappropriate question and ejaculated onto her chest and face.

The NFL continues to investigate Watson and recently wrapped up interviews with the quarterback. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the league could suspend Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

–Field Level Media

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

24th woman sues Browns QB Deshaun Watson

A 24th woman is suing Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Her case was filed Monday morning in Harris County District Court in Houston.

The first lawsuit was filed in March 2021, with a flurry of additional women also filing complaints over the following month to bring the total to 22. Another woman sued Watson last week since the airing of an episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” detailed the case.

The women all allege Watson committed sexual improprieties during the course of a massage. He has denied all accusations, and two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year.

“The allegations made in this new case are strikingly similar to those made by many of the other victims,” Texas attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the plaintiffs, said in a released statement. “Lost in the media frenzy surrounding Deshaun Watson is that these are twenty-four strong, courageous women who, despite ridicule, legal shenanigans, and intense media scrutiny, continue to stand firm for what is right.

“Setting aside the legal wrangling, the complicity of the NFL, or the failures of the criminal justice system, the resounding story that should be told here is that these women are true heroes. I will say again, our entire team is incredibly proud to represent these women, and we look forward to the day when we can lay out their cases in detail in front of a jury.”

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal. The team has not commented on the latest case.

The NFL continues to investigate Watson and recently wrapped up interviews with the quarterback. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the league could suspend Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

–Field Level Media

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson faces 23rd civil lawsuit for sexual misconduct

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is facing a 23rd active civil lawsuit, filed Tuesday by attorney Tony Buzbee on behalf of a plaintiff in Texas.

The plaintiff said that Watson’s legal team made “an effort to intimidate her” by reaching out and saying that Watson’s lawyers would fight the cases. She did not decide to file suit originally, but changed her mind, according to the suit, after two of Watson’s accusers appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports” last week.

“In that piece, plaintiff was struck by the courage of the victims willing to step forward and speak and was extremely displeased by Watson and his legal team’s mistreatment and revictimizations of the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit stated. “But it was Watson himself claiming that even now he has ‘no regrets’ and has done nothing wrong that solidified her resolve. She brings this case seeking minimum compensation, but to obtain a court finding that Watson’s conduct was wrong.”

The plaintiff said she began working as a massage therapist for Watson in the summer of 2020. Watson allegedly exposed himself to the plaintiff during the third and final session, touched her between her legs and “repeatedly requested” to have sex.

Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson in March. The Houston Texans traded him to Cleveland that month, and the Browns gave him a record $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

“Today we filed suit for the 23rd plaintiff in this litigation,” Buzbee said in a statement. “Other cases may come. The Watson defense team has vilified these women and this cause. Shame on them! We look forward to trying this case in court.”

According to ESPN, the Browns did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest suit.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden looks on from the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Las Vegas won 26-17.  Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada judge rejects dismissal, Gruden vs. NFL case cleared for trial

Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s case against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell can move forward, a Nevada judge ruled Wednesday.

District Court Judge Nancy Allf also denied a Motion to Compel the case into binding arbitration under the terms of Gruden’s NFL contract. Attorneys for the NFL and Goodell presented their positions separately on each motion, clearing the case to proceed via trial.

Gruden was present in court but did not take questions, offering a brief comment while exiting the courtroom: “We are going to let the process take care of itself. Good luck to the Raiders. Go Raiders.”

Barring other issues or a settlement between parties, moving forward with the case opens the possibility of the legal discovery phase and bring public parts, or all of the investigation, into the Washington NFL franchise.

Gruden resigned as head coach of the Raiders in October following backlash from racially-charged and insensitive email messages. Gruden claims the messages that were all dated to previous years were leaked by the NFL as part of an “orchestrated” and “malicious” campaign.

Gruden filed his lawsuit in the district court of Nevada’s Clark County in November.

The two-time Raiders coach had six seasons remaining on a 10-year contract worth $100 million.

Messages published by the Wall Street Journal and other outlets were captured by the NFL as part of an investigation into the culture of the Commanders — then known as the Washington Football Team. Many of the messages reported to be from Gruden were sent to team president Bruce Allen, who also had roots with the Raiders and worked with Gruden in Oakland.

Following Gruden’s resignation, Raiders owner Mark Davis called for the NFL to release all details related to the WFT investigation. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL had no plans to make the breadth of the findings or additional email messages public.

The New York Times published details of a series of messages from Gruden with misogynistic and anti-gay language.

The NFL’s position in the Nevada filing points to Gruden not denying the legitimacy of the messages or claiming that they were somehow altered or edited.

“Gruden does not, and cannot, dispute that he wrote the published emails. He does not, and cannot, dispute that he sent those emails to multiple parties,” the NFL filing states. “Nor does he claim that they were somehow altered or edited and that the repugnant views espoused in them were not in fact expressed by him. Instead, Gruden filed the instant complaint against the NFL and the commissioner, painting himself as the victim in a fictional story and seeking money through baseless claims against the NFL.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo (4) kicks the ball in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Report: K Josh Lambo sues Jaguars over Urban Meyer’s work environment

Former Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo is suing the Jacksonville Jaguars, alleging that disgraced coach Urban Meyer created a hostile work environment that contributed to Lambo’s on-field performance suffering, the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday.

Lambo alleged that Meyer kicked him and swore at him while he was working out last August before the Jaguars’ preseason finale. Lambo’s accusation becoming public in December was the final straw for Meyer, as Jacksonville fired him the same day, 13 games into his first season with the team.

“I’m in a lunge position. Left leg forward, right leg back,” Lambo told the Tampa Bay Times. “… Urban Meyer, while I’m in that stretch position, comes up to me and says, ‘Hey Dips–t, make your f–king kicks!’ And kicks me in the leg.”

Now Lambo is seeking his $3.5 million salary for 2021, with interest, plus damages for emotional distress.

Lambo’s lawsuit claims that he reported the incident to the Jaguars’ legal counsel via his agent. He was released from the team in October, which Lambo claims violated a Florida law protecting whistleblowers in the private sector.

The Jaguars told the Tampa Bay Times that their legal counsel offered to meet with Lambo over the incident, but Lambo said that wasn’t true.

Currently a free agent, Lambo played in 78 games across seven NFL seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers (2015-16) and Jaguars (2017-21). His career mark of 87.1 percent on field goal attempts ranks sixth in league history.

Meyer has not caught on with another NFL or college team since his ouster from Jacksonville. Reports late last month said that he was deep in negotiations to return to a broadcasting role with Fox.

–Field Level Media