WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – On first glance, the Redskins should fear being sued for allegedly allowing former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to run a bounty program in Washington, similar to the one he was suspended for running in New Orleans.
But an expert in sports law calls the lawsuit alleging such activity by Williams and the team “tenuous” and “likely to get thrown out.”
Former NFL linebacker Barrett Green has named the Redskins, Williams, and former tight end Robert Royal as defendants in his lawsuit, claiming a hits-for-cash program was responsible for a career-ending knee injury he suffered against Washington, as a member of the Giants in 2004.
Green alleges on Dec. 5, 2004, Royal “intentionally lowered his helmet and dove into” his knees “at full speed” to deliver an “unusual, outrageous and obvious cheap shot.”
There are a number of reasons Gabe Feldman, Director of Sports Law at Tulane University, believes the lawsuit won’t hold up in court, and they begin with how difficult it will be to prove the allegations.
Although Royal registered in some defensive statistical categories throughout his career, including in the game mentioned in the lawsuit, he was predominantly a tight end, and Williams was definitively a defensive coordinator.
“The allegation in the complaint, is that he played some defense,” Feldman told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny on Tuesday. “And if you look at his career stats in 2005, ’06, ’07, ’08, he is credited with some tackles, and in 2004, he’s credited with a pass defense in the actual game that’s at issue in the complaint.”
“And so the theory in the complaint, and it’s a pretty tenuous theory, is that Robert Royal played some defense,” Feldman went on. “And because he played some defense, he must have been coached by Gregg Williams. And as he was coached by Gregg Williams, he became part of that bounty scheme.”
“It’s difficult in any case to say that Robert Royal, again, an offensive player at the time, blocked him illegally – and they threw a flag – but blocked illegally with the intent to injure him, and that intent to injure spawned again from this bounty scheme,” Feldman said. “That’s going to almost be impossible to prove, because these types of hits happen in games every day.”
Feldman even likened the plaintiff’s claim to trying to prove the need for legal liability in every NFL injury, something he claims would end the NFL.
To further weaken Barrett’s claim, Feldman pointed out that the lawsuit is past Maryland’s three-year statute of limitations.
“This happened back in 2004,” Feldman said. “He’s bringing the case nine years later.”
Redskins fans were rightfully anxious upon hearing of the lawsuit, as their team has already suffered massive salary cap-related sanctions imposed by the league.