NFL Blocking Efforts by Children’s Charity to Depose Robert Goodell in Lawsuit

Posted on: June 12, 2017, 08:33h. 

Last updated on: June 12, 2017, 08:35h.

The NFL’s gambling policy is on trial, and a US District Court will tackle the issue of whether or not Commissioner Roger Goodell will have to testify in a case involving Strikes for Kids, a non-profit connecting NFL players with community programs and charity bowling, softball, and golf events.

Roger Goodell, resisting calls to testify in a lawsuit brought against the NFL by Strikes for Kids.
Strikes for Kids filed a motion to force NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify in its lawsuit against the league after they were forced to move a charity event from a bowling facility inside a casino. (Image: Twitter)

Lawyers for the charity filed a brief Thursday in a lawsuit against the professional sports organization, demanding that the head of professional football be forced to take the stand in the case.

“Mr. Goodell alone is charged with interpretation and enforcement of the gambling policy that served as the basis for relocating the charity event,” said the request filed Thursday in federal court in Dallas.

The case revolves around a bowling event that had to be relocated due to inconsistent anti-gambling policies that forced the event to move from an ideal location connected to a casino to a less ideal location surrounded by casinos. 

The NFL however has not made the boss of the organization available for a court appearance and has resisted efforts in the past for him to testify in similar legal actions. In 2013, the league tried and failed to prevent Goodell from testifying in an action brought by plaintiffs who were denied entry to the 2011 Super Bowl despite holding tickets.

(Goodell ultimately gave a taped deposition in that case.)

Gambling at Issue

In this case, lawyers for the children’s charity contend the league defrauded the group by falsely claiming the event violated its gambling policy and forcing it to move to another venue, causing lost revenue. The NFL contends its relocation demand was consistent with its rule and donated $5,000 for the inconvenience.

The 2015 happening was to be held at Strike Zone Lanes, which is located inside the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino.

NFL Senior Labor Relations Counsel Brooke Gardiner told the charity two weeks before the event that the location violated the NFL’s anti-gambling policy, and had to be moved or the 25 players, including, Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins, Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery, and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib would not be able to participate.

Strikes for Kids officials argued the bowling alley was separate from the casino and had its own entry so that the players would not have to even entering the gaming floor. But the league rebuffed the idea, forcing the event to move from the 72-lane facility at Sunset Station in Henderson to the 16-lane Brooklyn Bowl on the Las Vegas Strip. Charity organizers contend they had to turn away participants and reneg on promises of $100 gift cards to attendees from the Boys and Girls Clubs.

Illegal Formation

The charity’s legal representative wants to know why it is permissible to hold an event at one casino-related bowling alley and not another? Attorney Julie Pettit also wondered why a similar outing held in 2014 at the South Point Casino’s bowling alley with NFL players was acceptable.

“The NFL has a tendency to selectively enforce their own policies when it’s convenient for them or when it makes sense for them,” Pettit said.

Her argument seems to have merit. The league declined to fine Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots when he participated in a fundraising event on a cruise with a casino on board. Yet the league prevented former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, from speaking at a Daily Fantasy Sports Convention that was held at a exposition center in Las Vegas.