Feb 6, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL Network reporter Michael Irvin speaks with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni during Super Bowl Opening Night at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Judge orders hotel to turn over records in Michael Irvin lawsuit

Marriott International, Inc. has until Monday to release to a court any video or other potential evidence regarding an encounter Pro Football of Fame member Michael Irvin had with a hotel employee during Super Bowl week in Phoenix, USA Today reported Friday.

A judge ordered Marriott to submit recordings, written statements, and the names and contact information of those who contacted the NFL to report what they witnessed transpire between Irvin and the female staff member.

Irvin filed a lawsuit last week against the chain and the woman, who works at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel. She accused him of inappropriate behavior, and NFL Network removed him from his lineup of analysts and sent him home.

Irvin is seeking $100 million in damages. His attorney, Levi McCathern, told TMZ that Irvin’s reputation has not only been damaged but that he lost money in the form of canceled appearances following the woman’s allegations.

“It is clear Michael is the latest victim of our cancel culture where all it takes is an accusation to ruin a person’s life,” McCathern told TMZ. “Michael looks forward to clearing his name in court and hopes the Court of public opinion will see the truth come out as well.”

The 56-year-old Irvin told The Dallas Morning News last week that he had a brief encounter with the woman in the hotel lobby.

“Honestly, I’m a bit baffled with it all,” Irvin told the newspaper. “This all happened in a 45-second conversation in the lobby. When I got back after going out … I came into the lobby, and I talked to somebody. I talked to this girl. I don’t know her, and I talked to her for about 45 seconds.

“We shook hands. Then, I left. … That’s all I know.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 8, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference at Phoenix Convention Center prior to Super Bowl LVII. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ten ex-players sue NFL over disability program

Willis McGahee is one of 10 former NFL players suing the league, its board of trustees and commissioner Roger Goodell in federal court over its benefits plan, accusing them Thursday of a number of “unscrupulous tactics” to wrongfully avoid paying out disability claims.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in Baltimore in the U.S. District Court of Maryland and lays out what’s described as an “overly aggressive and disturbing pattern” of denying benefits for specious, subjective reasons, making it far more difficult for retired players to receive health care they need after playing in the NFL.

McGahee, a two-time Pro Bowl running back who played for the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns in his 10-year NFL career, is now 41 but told reporters in a virtual news conference that his physician said his arthritis comparable to an 80-year-old.

McGahee said he tried for six years to receive disability payments from the NFL and was denied last year.

“It’s time for me to step up, it’s time for other players to step up and say something,” McGahee told reporters. “We are not just going to sit back and just let it all fall down on us and take the beating.”

The other plaintiffs are Jason Alford, Daniel Loper, Michael McKenzie, Jamize Olawale, Alex Parsons, Charles Sims, Eric Smith, Joey Thomas and Lance Zeno.

Smith played seven seasons as a defensive back for the New York Jets and said in the lawsuit that he had 13 documented traumatic brain injuries in that time.

Smith shared Thursday that he has blacked out and woken up bleeding with “holes in the wall.”

“My wife and kids are crying,” he said. “I went down a dark path.”

The lawsuit is notable at the end of a season that saw Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffer multiple documented concussions — including one just days after he was cleared too soon from the league’s concussion protocol — and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffer cardiac arrest on the field of a game that was eventually abandoned.

One of the lawyers representing the players is Christopher Seeger, who in 2012 worked on the class-action lawsuit in which ex-players accused the NFL of not sufficiently protecting them from concussions and their related dangers. That case has been settled and has paid out more than $1 billion to affected retirees.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told Reuters in a statement that the disability plan in question has provided more than $330 million to eligible players, and that their standards were developed via consultation with experts in occupational, mental and physical health.

“The NFL-NFLPA disability plan is fair and administered by a professional staff overseen by a board comprised of an equal number of appointees of the NFL Players Association and the league, which includes retired players,” McCarthy wrote.

“This board reviews the activities of the office and operation of the benefit program, including every contested application for benefits, to ensure that retired players who are entitled to disability benefits receive them as intended.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Vikings hiring Brian Flores as DC

The Minnesota Vikings will hire former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as their new defensive coordinator, ESPN and the NFL Network reported Monday.

Flores, 41, spent the 2022 season as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach after Miami fired him following a three-year stint as the team’s head coach.

Flores, who is Black, has a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams, claiming racial discrimination in hiring practices. He alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him a $100,000 bonus for each game Flores lost during the 2019 season in an attempt to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft.

Flores also named the New York Giants and Denver Broncos in the suit, saying the teams used him to “check their boxes” of interviewing minority candidates for the Rooney Rule before hiring white head coaches. He alleged that former Broncos general manager John Elway and colleagues arrived an hour late for an interview with him and appeared disheveled from a night of drinking, which Elway roundly denied.

Flores interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancy during the recent hiring cycle and also reportedly interviewed for defensive coordinator jobs in Cleveland and Denver.

The Vikings fired Ed Donatell after their early exit from the playoffs. Minnesota won the NFC North at 13-4 and earned the No. 3 postseason seed but lost 31-24 to the Giants in the wild-card round.

The Vikings ranked 31st in total defense (388.7 yards per game) and tied for 28th in scoring defense (25.1 ppg) in the 2022 regular season.

This will be Flores’ first time serving as a coordinator. He was a position coach on defense as well as a special-teams coach during a long run on the New England Patriots’ staff (2008-18).

–Field Level Media

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