A Bizarre Confluence of Football, Expert Witnesses and Social Media

As I pointed out less than a month ago (see my August 27th post), sports-related litigation is a growth business these days.  The latest example is Antonio Brown’s anticipated grievance against the New England Patriots, seeking nearly $10 million in unpaid salary and guarantees.  Sports Illustrated’s legal analyst, Michael McCann, has an excellent article about the case, including an in-depth discussion of the legal and factual issues, at https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/09/22/antonio-brown-labor-grievance-new-england-patriots-nflpa.  (Professor McCann is the director of the University of New Hampshire Law School’s Sports and Entertainment Law Institute – the very existence of which is emblematic of “the exploding world of sports law,” as their website puts it.)  As McCann explains, “Brown’s contract with the Patriots contained a $1 million base salary, along with a $9 million signing bonus.  His contract also included various roster bonuses and performance incentives.  Five million of the $9 million signing bonus is due to be paid on Monday, September 23.  If the Patriots refuse to pay the $5 million [which evidently is what happened], Brown would have actionable grounds to grieve an alleged breach of contract.”  As the case unfolds over the next several months (or years?), it will undoubtedly be replete with expert opinions and expert testimony.  It will also provide a public examination of how the NFL Players’ Association succeeds or fails in protecting the rights of its members.  The issues are complex, the player is controversial, and the impact on the real world is practically nil – but it will be a most interesting case, especially for those who follow football closely and who love or hate the Patriots and/or Antonio Brown.

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