There’s an Injunction of the Play

by Chris Markham. 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys, in my opinion, kinda got screwed by the officials (this is very difficult for me to say, as I am not, in any way, shape or form, a Cowboys fan). As you may know, a Cowboy wide receiver caught a pass, and, while attempting to gain a few more yards, lost control of the ball and that catch was ruled incomplete. Although the experts, commentators and talking heads all thought the call was the correct one, I still thought the Cowboys were robbed (again, very painful for me to say).
I remember a number of years ago, my team, the Steelers (I was born in Pittsburgh and I lived in Western Pennsylvania, so I came by it honestly) was informed not one, not two, but three times by the NFL that the officials blew calls in games. These three calls that year either inadvertently or advertently caused by beloved black and gold from three victories, causing them to miss the playoffs. So how did I react? Like most fans, I complained about these blown calls to whomever would listen, stating that the Steelers were robbed, and the league sucked. Of course, rationally, I know that a team isn’t very good (nor would it go a long way in the playoffs) if three penalties could sway the season either way. So I sucked it up after a fashion and looked forward to next year.
Most of us do that.
There are some exceptions. One Dallas Cowboys fan was so enraged with what he saw that he filed suit in federal court against the National Football League. His suit, filed on behalf of the Dallas Cowboys and their fans everywhere, sues the NFL for breach of contract, among other things. He’s asking for the sum of something around six billion dollars for the loss of revenue to the Cowboys and the intentional infliction of emotional distress to the citizens of Texas and Dallas Cowboys fans around the United States. Apparently, if you’re a Cowboys fan and you live outside of the US, you’re out of luck.
Traditionally, courts aren’t good with this sort of thing. Damages have to be verified. Six Billion dollars (while I’m sure the NFL may have that money lying around in its petty cash drawer) is not an amount to sneeze at. There’s a breach of contract action – what parties were there to the contract? The fan and the NFL? The team and the NFL? Is the contract implied or express? What does the contract say if it is actually in writing? What did the fans actually lose? And, most importantly, for any infliction of emotional distress case, one has to prove damages. How does one do that? Well, the easiest way is to show that, prior to the incident, you had no history of, or outstanding health issues. After the incident, you had to be rushed to the hospital for a health malady that was directly caused by the incident.
That’s pretty tough to do, especially since most of us football fans are overweight and could use some exercise. Health problem/issue virgins we aren’t.
Late last year, a party filed a temporary injunction against a high school football team. Turns out an official blew a call during the waning moments of a game that the winner of same would go to the state championship. Everyone admitted the ref blew the call; the team that benefitted from the call, the high school administrations, the head of the officials and even the ref themselves said the call was blown.
The court that heard the case dismissed it. Why? What would the relief be? The judge in the high school football case stated the options fairly eloquently. He asked is the relief to replay the game in toto? Or do we nullify the points that happened after the official made his error? Or do we replay the game from the point after the mistaken call? He has a point. The number of variables in any athletic competition are far too many to hang the outcome on one specific issue. Who’s to say the blown call in either the high school or the Dallas game made any impact statistically on the outcome? One could argue that there should be no way on earth the Seahawks could overcome a 16-point deficit in the last four minutes of a game to prevail in overtime against the Packers.
As my father would say, “That’s why they play the games!” (Actually, he’d say “The NFL is fixed”, but that’s a story for another day).


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