Sean Salisbury has made good on his promise and filed a defamation lawsuit in Texas against Gawker Media. His attorney tells the Frisco Enterprise that we've waged a "long-running smear campaign" against his client.
Salisbury filed in the improbably named Denton County, where he lives. Gawker Media has not yet been served. Danny Gallagher reports:
Sean Salisbury, a Frisco resident and former National Football League quarterback, filed a petition for a civil defamation lawsuit in a Denton County court against Gawker Media for publishing several false stories on their sports blog Deadspin.com that cost him several jobs, ruined his reputation and made it difficult to find gainful employment.
Salisbury's attorney, Jeffrey Tillotson of the Dallas law firm Lynn, Tillotson, Pinker & Cox, said in the petition that Deadspin has waged a "long-running smear campaign" against his client since January of 2007.
The blog first alleged on Jan. 6, 2007 that ESPN suspended Salisbury for taking indecent photos of himself with his cell phone and showing it to several female co-workers. The post quoted a story written by CBS Sportsline columnist Mike Freeman on Dec. 27, 2006 who did not identify the analyst by name. The post also quoted The Big Lead, another sports blog, who identified Salisbury as the suspended analyst based on information from an "insider."
Tillotson said Deadspin continued to post the "lie" on four separate occasions including in posts on Sept. 11 following Salisbury's departure from 105.3 FM The Fan, a Dallas sports radio station.
"Deadspin falsely stated, 'According to one source close to the station, Salisbury freaked out a station promo girl after sexting her," the petition read.
The blog also provided a link to a Dallas Observer blog, Richie Whitt's Sportatorium, that said in an "update" post regarding Salisbury's departure that "sexting wasn't involved."
Tillotson said Deadspin continued to publish the story as part of their "smear campaign" against Salisbury.
"Unburdened by the truth or any pretense of journalistic standards, Deadspin ignored the facts and instead repeated the malicious lie that Mr. Salisbury 'allegedly' engaged in 'sexting,' which prompting his firing," the petition read. "In the weeks since Mr. Salisbury's departure from The Fan, Deadspin has continued to taunt Mr. Salisbury in emails from Deadspin contributors and has even mockingly asked Mr. Salisbury why he has not filed suit. Deadspin now has its answer."
"What we hope to prove is that blog sites like Deadspin are accountable," he said. "They can't simply attack someone and make a concerted effort to destroy the lives and careers of people without any ramifications. The difference between other news outlets and Deadspin is at least the other news outlets try to get it right. We hope to make a statement that if sites are going to behave like this, there are consequences and they are long overdue for that."
I haven't seen the petition, and as far as I know neither has anyone at Gawker. Denton County's web site has a record of the filing and nothing else. We'll have more on this next week, I'd imagine.