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See You in Court!

Aug. 27, 2007
Aug. 27, 2007

Table of Contents
Aug. 27, 2007

SI Players: LIFE ON AND OFF THE FIELD
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Baseball
U.S. Open Preview
2008 Beijing Olympics
High School Football
NEW ORLEANS

See You in Court!

Handicapping the recent spate of sports-related lawsuits

KIA VAUGHN V. DONIMUS

This is an article from the Aug. 27, 2007 issue

THE CASE: Rutgerscenter Vaughn is suing the shrunken radiohead for defamation and slander afterhe called her and her teammates "nappy-headed hos" during abroadcast.

THE EXPERTS SAY:"It's about the word ho and whether that was understood by listeners asmeaning she was a prostitute, or promiscuous, in a genuine sense, or if it wassimply a slur," says Rodney Smolla, dean of Washington and Lee School ofLaw. "It may be offensive to a lot of folks, but my instinct is that acourt will say you cannot sue on the basis of that phrase, because it's aninsult but not libel."

THE PEOPLE SAY: SIasked 12 people on the street their thoughts, and they split down themiddle.

BARRY BONDS V. CURTSCHILLING

THE POSSIBLE CASE:Bonds has retained two lawyers who have threatened to sue anyone who has madefalse and defamatory statements—presumably such as when Schilling implied onHBO's Costas Now that Bonds took steroids.

THE EXPERTS SAY:"All of the testimony to the grand jury and all the BALCO documents wouldbe fair game," says Howard Wasserman, an associate professor of law atFlorida International. "If you sue for defamation, you really are puttingthose statements that you're alleging as false and defamatory out there forrepeated public review." Says Smolla, "If he does sue, he's playingwith fire. A great example of this is Oscar Wilde, who was accused of [sodomy]and sued for libel. It then came out during the investigation that he was gay,and he was ruined."

THE PEOPLE SAY:Seven sided with Schilling. "Why would Bonds sue if it meant the sealeddocuments were fair game?" asked one.

JONATHAN LEERICHES V. BARRY BONDS, BUD SELIG AND HANK AARON'S BAT

THE CASE: TheSouth Carolina inmate filed a suit claiming that the two men and the piece oflumber engaged in a conspiracy to drive up baseball's TV ratings. The suit,which seeks "42,000,000.00 million dollars in Swiss francs," alsoalleges that Bonds used the bat to crack the Liberty Bell.

THE EXPERTS SAY:"No chance," says Wasserman. "Prisoners have a lot of time on theirhands. A lot of them become jailhouse lawyers and just start filingthings." (A judge last week threw out Riches's $63,000,000,000.00 billionclaim against Michael Vick, which alleged the QB stole Riches's dogs, sold themand used the proceeds to buy arms from the Iranian government.)

THE PEOPLE SAY:Most were dismissive—"Great, our tax dollars at work"—but two actuallysided with Riches. "It's common knowledge that Bonds has a time machine andwould be able to do this," said one.

What's the deal with...

The Long Island Ducks?

AFTER JOSE OFFERMAN attacked an opposing pitcher whohit him in an Atlantic League game last week, the reaction of most fans wasshock: Jose Offerman is still playing baseball?!? Yes, the 38-year-old plieshis trade for the Long Island Ducks, who have become a refuge for ex--bigleaguers. The Ducks, an independent team, have 13 of them, including EdgardoAlfonzo and Carl Everett. The marquee names—Pete Rose Jr. is also on theteam—help with the gate; the team averages a league-best 6,071 fans. But it'snot about money: The average Duck makes about $2,100 a month. "They'replaying to be free agents to all major league teams," says Ducks G.M.Michael Pfaff. "It's a pretty good deal." Indeed, more than 40 Duckshave signed with big league organizations since 2000, including a few—CarlosBaerga and Bill Pulsipher—who got back to the show.

In Exile
Pacman Jones

LAST WEEK NFL commissioner Roger Goodell remindedeveryone that Michael Vick hasn't made him forget about another of the league'shigh-profile miscreants, suspended Titans cornerback Pacman Jones. "I'vesaid to Pacman ... 'You have to earn your way back into the National FootballLeague,'" Goodell said. "I was disappointed with some of the activitiesthat Pacman got involved [with] this spring." That hasn't stopped Jones(suspended for the 2007 season) from dabbling in all the usual activities of amoonlighting jock. On Aug. 12 he took part in a TNA wrestling event, and lastweek he said he and rap producer Spoaty will team up on a single called Let ItShine. The duo will be called Posterboyz, and the track will be distributed byJones's National Street League Records. But even that's a problem: The NFL islooking into whether Jones's label name—the NSL—infringes on leaguecopyrights.

PHOTOJOELLE WIGGINS (BONDS)PHOTOGRAHAM WILTSHIRE/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES (JAGGER)PHOTOBETTMANN/CORBIS (TROTSKY)PHOTOANNETTE BROWN/A&B PHOTOGRAPHY (JONES)PHOTOTHE GALLERY COLLECTION/CORBIS (NAPOLEON)PHOTOCHRISTIAN ABRAHAM/CONNECTICUT POST/AP (OFFERMAN)PHOTOAMY SANCETTA/AP (VAUGHN)PHOTORICHARD DREW/AP (IMUS)TWO PHOTOS