I saw Magic Johnson yesterday. I was standing on the first floor of the building I work at. I won’t bore you with the details of my job, but it involves quite a bit of non-legal work. If you’re picturing a Spanish-speaking gentleman wearing a sandwich board that advertises cheap men’s suits, you wouldn’t be far off. I mean, I was technically hired as an attorney. And I do a fair amount of nominally legal work. Suffice to say, however, that the name tag I was wearing yesterday when I saw Magic Johnson does not… aver that I’m an attorney.
Anyway, I saw Magic Johnson yesterday. He strode like a behemoth across the marble floor and the first thing I thought was, “This man is enormous.” And I don’t mean that he’s fat. Although it’s clear he’s gained a good amount of weight since Showtime. I mean that he’s unbelievably tall. I would have pegged him at seven feet easy if I didn’t already know his listed playing height of 6’9″.
The second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth things I thought were “HIV virus.” The audio of that press conference can be recalled at a moment’s notice. Especially the way that he unnecessarily appended the extra “virus” onto the end of that seeming death sentence, thus joining the other 20th century sporting legend who had made a public announcement full of echo regarding his impending death.
Today, do I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth? For seeing Magic? No way. Nothing makes up for me having to wear a name tag.
Let’s talk sports….
This week, the NFL Combine wrapped up. Like most NFL events (save the execrable Pro Bowl), the Combine has become a must-watch event, combining America’s love of sprinting with America’s hatred of privacy. This year, the assembled athletes put on quite the spectacle. Men ran fast. Fans swooned. But hidden among the headlining displays of quickness were the interviews that every Combine invitee was expected to do with multiple NFL teams. This portion of the Combine sounds quite a bit like OCI. The only difference I can see is that no NFL teams solely do IP work and expect you to have a science background as if you could have possibly known that when you were choosing the firms you wanted to interview with and besides which, who’s kidding whom here, just give me a f**king summer job already, okay?
I’ve lost the thread… so yeah, team interviews. This year’s controversy revolves around a question posed to Colorado tight end Nick Kasa. Kasa endured the following:
They can, as Colorado tight end Nick Kasa discovered, flitter around the elephant by posing questions that would seem perfectly normal banter between red-blooded men if the conversation were being held at the neighborhood Olive Garden and not during a quasi job interview.
“They ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ Are you married?’ Do you like girls?’ ” Kasa told ESPN Radio Denver. “Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”
How tight is your end, Nick? Do you like gladiator movies? What’s your favorite Madonna album — I can’t pick so I just say Immaculate Collection — but seriously, Nick, what’s your favorite?
This, combined with the ongoing curiosity regarding Manti Te’o, has led to a vigorous discussion of the laws that NFL teams may be breaking when they interview potential “hires.” This Yahoo article suggests that aggressive questioning such as this may be illegal in certain states that have more robust laws against employment discrimination as it relates to sexuality:
“There is no federal protection and it has become a state law matter,” added [Professor Dylan Malagrino, a sports law expert from Western State University College of Law]. “Some states, like California and Minnesota, have been very proactive. But some states there is no protection at all, and teams in theory could ask inquisitive questions into someone’s private life and sexuality.”
Most nations have codified national laws that govern such protections and restrictions. Europe, for example, has a broad range of human rights legislation that would make it virtually impossible for an employer within a European Union country to pose such a question without risking sanction.
“American law on this matter is like a crazy quilt,” said Matthew Finkin, professor of law at the University of Illinois and author of Privacy in Employment Law, which tackles equality in American employment on a state-by-state basis. “The southern states are generally seen as being very employer friendly, whereas the west coast is seen as being more favorable to the employee, partly due to strong unions and such.”
Quality AIDS quilt burn, Professor Finkin.
Still, despite the protests from the NFLPA and even the NFL itself, it’s unclear whether the pointed questions violate law on such a muddled point. The fact that the Combine is held in Indiana, a state with no such discrimination protections for private employees, appears to even obscure the issue further.
But the whole hubbub about discrimination brings up a larger, more interesting point about the NFL. It still is a workplace — a workplace filled with cretinous ogres who beat each other up for a living and lag a few yards behind normal social sensitivities on a host of issues. Do NFL players watch sexual harassment videos? Do they attend sensitivity training? Do they have to wear name tags?
TWO FOOTBALL PLAYERS ENTER INTO GAY MARRIAGE… DEBATE
Amicus briefs are widely regarded as meaningless baubles in the battle to win Supreme Court cases. The number and importance of friends a side may have has no bearing on the legal merits of their case. The amicus brief tends to add nothing to the technical points of law being made. It does not change the plain meaning of the statutes. It does not overturn precedent. Perhaps most importantly, it does not necessarily stroke the over-important ego of Anthony Kennedy.
But this week has already seen two noteworthy amicus briefs filed in support of gay marriage. The first was noteworthy because Republicans supported gay marriage, and because, I guess by extension, God.
But as we mentioned yesterday, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo had filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of gay marriage, ahead of Hollingsworth v. Perry. From the brief:
“When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are,” they wrote, “demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here.”
“Wow, I’m sold.” — Nino Scalia
I began this section by using the passive voice to describe some generalized opinion of amicus briefs. Let me be clearer to end this section. Amicus briefs are meaningless baubles in the battle to win Supreme Court cases. If you’d like to read a shiny, irrelevant nothing in its entirety, click here.
RAP SHEET ROLL CALL
* Chamique Holdsclaw was indicted on aggravated assault charges stemming from an incident in which she shot at her girlfriend’s car. The article reporting this hilariously includes a pronunciation guide for Chamique’s name: “(shuh-MEE’-kwuh).”
* A hockey coach in Canada was sentenced to jail time after tripping a 13-year-old. America’s hat, still rowdy as ever.
* And finally we come to Desmond Bryant. After graduating from Lat and Elie’s alma mater, Bryant played for the Oakland Raiders. This week, he submitted this picture into the Nick Nolte Mugshot Hall of Fame. Enjoy:
Time for Roger Goodell to give NFL teams sex talk [Sporting News]
Can NFL teams ask Manti Te’o if he’s gay? Depends on which teams are doing the asking [Yahoo]
NFLers show support of gay marriage [ESPN]