May 31, 2012
By DAVE CAMPBELL | Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A lawsuit filed against the NFL Players Association by retirees was dismissed Tuesday by a federal judge, who said she’s “empathetic to their concerns” but ruled they had no legal right to hundreds of millions of dollars in additional post-career benefits they claimed they lost during lockout talks last year.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued her order from St. Paul, Minn.
Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller, a former Minnesota Vikings star, was the lead plaintiff in the complaint that argued current players and their attorneys had no right to bargain with NFL owners about retiree benefits because they weren’t legally a union last summer.
Michael Hausfeld, the lead lawyer for the retired players, said his group plans to appeal Nelson’s decision to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
In an interview from his office in Washington, Hausfeld called Nelson’s findings “elucidating and disappointing overall.” There were several dozen ex-players, many of them Hall of Famers, on the lawsuit who felt they were cheated by the current players. They estimated between $300 million and $500 million in additional benefits they were promised in the early stages of collective bargaining agreement talks and didn’t get when the labor dispute was settled last summer.
They contended they were pushed out of negotiations to streamline the mediation process despite a court order for their inclusion. Those labor talks led to the new CBA between the owners and players and saved the 2011 season.
The lawsuit named NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith, New England quarterback Tom Brady and former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel. Brady and Vrabel were plaintiffs on the antitrust lawsuit filed by the current players against the NFL in March before the lockout.
The union’s response to the complaint was filed under seal, and the NFLPA has declined to comment on the case.
“The decision says it is clear that the active players took advantage of the retirees’ situations to benefit themselves, and that’s just a classical incident or consequence of the fact that they held all the marbles,” Hausfeld said. “That’s a sad commentary on the functioning of the union, and it’s an even sadder commentary on the richest pro sport in the country.”
Nelson wrote that she accepted the factual allegations by the Eller class as true but disagreed that the current players acted illegally. She ruled that since the active players were negotiating their own contract with the league, they had no obligation to take “a smaller share of the pie for themselves” in order to give the retirees a bigger slice.
The former players claimed the current players owed them a “fiduciary duty,” but Nelson denied the legal existence of such a relationship.
“And there can be no dispute that a better package of benefits was in fact obtained for the retired players in the 2011 CBA as compared to those in the former CBA. No jury could reasonably find that the active players did not do better by the retired players in the 2011 CBA,” Nelson wrote.
May 31, 2012
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins says the team will hire a new head coach within the next couple of weeks, but it won’t be Patrick Ewing.
Higgins said owner Michael Jordan had informed Ewing that the team plans to hire someone other than him to replace Paul Silas.
Exactly who that is remains to be seen.
Higgins says, “Patrick has a lot of great qualities as a coach and he will one day be a head coach.”
The Bobcats have interviewed eight candidates for the job and plan to talk with more in the next week or so. A shortlist of candidates will then meet with Jordan face-to-face before a final decision is made.
May 31, 2012
By AMY TAXIN | Associated Press
ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman might soon find himself working with at-risk teens or cleaning up streets.
The flamboyant former player known for his rebounding skills and wild, off-court behavior was sentenced Tuesday to 104 hours of community service after being found guilty last year of four counts of contempt for failing to pay child support.
The ruling also placed Rodman, 51, on three years of informal probation on the condition he keep up his child and spousal support payments.
It was the latest development in a series of legal disputes that began in 2004, when Rodman's wife at the time filed for divorce.
Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Barry Michaelson urged Rodman — who wore a black button down shirt and jeans to the family court hearing — to put his basketball skills to good use in his service.
"My suggestion is to use your talents as a motivator, as a fine, fine athlete and as a fine person to assist others in need," Michaelson said.
Rodman still faces additional contempt charges and is accused of owing back child support in an amount that attorneys for Michelle Rodman, his ex-wife, say exceeds $800,000.
The towering Rodman, who sports face jewelry, said he would do whatever community service was required near his home in Florida, possibly working with children.
"It's all about the kids," Rodman said of the ex-couple's two children, after the hearing. "It does suck the fact that it had to come to this."
Rodman was found guilty by a judge of the four counts of contempt involving child support owed in 2009 and 2010.
Rodman's attorney Linnea Willis said the four charges stemmed from a period of time when he was expected to pay $50,000 a month in child support. That amount has since been reduced to $4,500 for child and spousal support. Rodman is now current on those obligations, she said.
Rodman, also known for his sometimes Technicolor hair, married in 2003. For years, he and his former wife have been feuding over custody and support of their children, ages 10 and 11.
Michelle Rodman declined comment after Tuesday's hearing. Her attorney, Jack Kayajanian, said he was pleased with the ruling and an award of $32,500 in attorney's fees.
Outstanding disputes over child support and additional contempt charges will be addressed at a hearing on June 22.
Willis said Rodman owes far less money in back child support than claimed by attorneys for his ex-wife.
Court documents filed earlier this year indicated that Rodman was broke. His tax return from 2010 shows he earned roughly $150,000, but his financial manager Peggy King said he owes significant back taxes.
She also said Rodman's alcoholism has tarnished his image and made it difficult for him to obtain corporate endorsements and other work.
On Tuesday, Rodman said he was doing fine financially and playing in basketball games in Europe and Asia, though he wasn't raking in the money he once did as a professional player.
"I'm making enough to keep everyone satisfied," he said.
Rodman was a bad-boy star of the Detroit Pistons and won three NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. He lived in Orange County before moving to Florida. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame last year.
Rodman dated Madonna, was married briefly to Carmen Electra, and gave loud parties that led to frequent run-ins with the law when he lived in Newport Beach.
May 31, 2012
ALLEN, Texas - Terrell Owens has been released by the Allen Wranglers and lost his ownership stake in the Indoor Football League team.
The team says Owens didn’t plan to play in two upcoming road games with possible playoff implications. The six-time Pro Bowl receiver also was a no-show for a scheduled appearance at a local children's hospital with other players and coaches.
Wranglers owner Jon Frankel said in a statement Tuesday that the team couldn’t keep a player like Owens when fans were noticing and commenting about a “lack of effort both on and off the field.”
The 38-year-old Owens didn’t get any NFL offers to play last season after surgery on his left knee. He had 35 catches for 420 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing eight of Allen’s 11 games.
May 31, 2012
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP)
Boxer Paul Williams was driving his modified sport motorcycle too fast for conditions when he crashed into an embankment, police said Tuesday.
Williams was paralyzed and has no movement from the waist down after Sunday's crash in Marietta, northwest of Atlanta, his manager George Peterson said.
The 30-year-old athlete severed his spinal cord after falling on his back and head when he was thrown from his motorcycle, Peterson said.
Williams was driving at a high rate of speed which was too fast for conditions,Mariettapolice said in a statement Tuesday. Police say he could not negotiate a curve, and the bike slammed into the embankment.
Williams, a fighter known as ''The Punisher,'' is from Aiken, S.C. He was in metro Atlanta to attend his brother's wedding.
He was scheduled to fight Saul ''Canelo'' Alvarez on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas but that event has been canceled, Peterson said.
Williams is among the most versatile and unusual athletes in boxing, making him a highly undesirable opponent for the world's best fighters during his lengthy, successful career. He has competed effectively in an impressive three weight classes against much shorter foes, even comfortably making the 147-pound welterweight limit despite his lanky 6-foot-2 frame.