The NFL Is Getting Sued Over The Hall Of Fame Game Fiasco

Photo credit: Ron Schwane/AP Images
Photo credit: Ron Schwane/AP Images

The NFL preseason was supposed to kick off two weeks ago at the NFL Hall of Fame. But the turf was a disgusting mess and the NFL had to cancel it so that every other play didn’t end with a shredded ligament. Media reports that the turf was unplayable started trickling out throughout the day, but news of the game being cancelled didn’t break until about an hour before it was scheduled to start. When the cancelation was announced, fans like Thomas Gryniewicz of Milwaukee were already in the stands.


“It was an investment. Not just the hotel but the game ticket and I had to get my kids taken care of. I had to drive here,” Gryniewicz told ESPN. “Then they didn’t tell us it was canceled until we were in here.”

Shortly after the game was cancelled, lawyer Michael Avenatti said he planned to file a class-action lawsuit against the Hall of Fame. He filed suit in U.S. District Court in Ohio on Aug. 11, but the case was voluntarily dismissed. Then Colts punter Pat McAfee said on his podcast that players knew about the cancellation hours before and were told not to say anything online, and Avenatti refiled the breach of contract suit against the NFL and the Hall of Fame today in U.S. District Court in California.

Illustration for article titled The NFL Is Getting Sued Over The Hall Of Fame Game Fiasco

McAfee said that he was ordered not to tweet or convey that the game was cancelled. Filed on behalf of Los Angeles resident Greg Herrick and other aggrieved fans, the suit uses that to argue that the NFL willfully kept information regarding the cancellation of the game from fans in order to keep them spending money in the arena for a few more hours. In an interview with Mike Florio, Avenatti said he expected to find proof of the fraud.

“We fully expect to uncover text messages demonstrating [fraud],” Avenatti said. “I will tell you this, and this has not been announced previously, we know for a fact that a text message was sent out to members of the Hall of Fame or individuals assisting the Hall of Fame with VIP guests informing them that the game was cancelled and also expressly telling them not to tell the fans. When we get our hands on that text message the NFL and the Hall of Fame have a serious, serious problem and we expect this to reach all the way to the top. We don’t believe that some middle manager made this decision. Commissioner Goodell and Mr. Baker, the head of the Hall of Fame, are going have a lot of explaining to do in connection with the case.”

When I spoke with Avenatti, he reiterated these claims, and said that a text message was sent to VIP hosts “well prior to kickoff” conveying that the game was going to be cancelled. The pre-parties outside the stadium are money makers, Avenatti said, and he posits that the Hall of Fame wanted to ensure that fans kept buying right up until the game was supposed to start.

The full complaint can be found below or by clicking here.

Staff writer, Deadspin