Senator Specter on Terrell Owens

My state’s senior senator, Arlen Specter, who has lots on his plate, held a news conference this morning:

[He said that] it was “vindictive and inappropriate” for the league and the Eagles to forbid [their] all-pro wide receiver [Terrell Owens] from playing and prevent other teams from talking to him.

“It’s a restraint of trade for them to do that, and the thought crosses my mind, it might be a violation of antitrust laws,” Specter said, though some other legal experts disagreed.

“I am madder than hell at what he has done in ruining the Eagles’ season,” the Pennsylvania Republican said. “I think he’s in flagrant breach of his contract and I believe the Eagles would be within their rights in not paying him another dime or perhaps even suing him for damages.”

But Specter said, “I do not believe, personally, that it is appropriate to punish him (by forcing him to sit out the rest of the season). He’s not committed a crime, he’s committed a breach of contract. And what they’re doing against him is vindictive.”

There are several statements here that are interestingly wrong. One worth thinking about is the idea that the Eagles are punishing Owens by enforcing the contract’s “conduct detrimental” clause. On one level this can’t be right – the Eagles are paying their employee for not working, hardly an onerous result. But theory notwithstanding, reading the arbitrator’s decision, it sort of feels like punishment. Doesn’t it?

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2 Responses

  1. Skid says:

    Ok, as a 3L, my last contact with contract law was first year, but, under standard contract law, if a party is found to have breached a contract, then aren’t the remedies essentially damages or specific performance? I mean, this seems like a decent case for specific performance (unique skills, etc), but once the contract has been found void and the remedies paid, then isn’t the contract no longer enforceable? I didn’t quite say that right, but, an example might make the point better:

    In a construction contract, once there is a breach, and the defendant pays his remedies, at that point, there is no contract anymore between the parties, right?

    So, in this case, doesn’t it make a difference if TO was found to have breached the contract, as opposed to engaging in conduct detrimental to the team? In other words, if he had breached his contract, shouldn’t he a) pay back his salary and be a free agent or b) in equity have to perform under the contract? Or, is the arbiter’s decision basically specific performance?

  2. acs says:

    what the team is actually doing is “paying” him his game check each week (the amount of which i forget), but at the same time they garnish the entire amount of the check and set it off against the 1.8M+ (i think — i’m a little hazy on amounts) of prorated signing bonus that the team is trying to recover from him. so he’s effectively paying them not to be allowed to play.