Last month, Sean Salisbury vowed to sue Deadpin for its history of reports regarding the man better known for his time at ESPN than for his blink-and-you-might-have-missed it tenure as an actual on-field NFL quarterback.
And now Salisbury has made good on this threat and/or promise.
The claim is for defamation, and Salisbury alleges that Deadspin has engaged in a “long-running smear campaign against him.” The factual focal point of the lawsuit — and likely the only one that will survive the applicable statute of limitations — is the recent claim from Deadpin that Salisbury was fired by a Dallas radio station for “sexting.” Salisbury has denied the allegation, and a report from at least one other media outlet has undermined the “sexting” claim.
“What we hope to prove is that blog sites like Deadspin are
accountable,” said Salisbury attorney Todd Harlow, according to the McKinney (Tex.) Courier-Gazette. “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.”
But, as Roger Clemens previously learned to his undoubted dismay, the pursuit of a defamation case involves opening a heavy door that can swing back around and strike the plaintiff square in the ass. Such cases arise from alleged damage to the plaintiff’s reputation. In order to assess the damage properly, the defendant has the right to poke around every closet in the house in search of bones.
Thus, the best pre-suit advice that the plaintiff’s counsel can provide is this: “Think of the most embarrassing thing about yourself, the one thing that you would not want anyone to know. And then assume that if you file this lawsuit it will be known by anyone and everyone.”
It’s unknown whether Salisbury received such advice, or if so whether he heeded it. But it’s safe to say that Deadspin will use the legal process to search for as many embarrassing things as it can find regarding Salisbury — and that at some point any and all skeletons Deadspin finds will be displayed like Halloween decorations at the headquarters of Gawker Media.