NFL quietly filed $1.5 million claim against M.I.A. for Super Bowl middle finger

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In the aftermath of a Super Bowl XLVI halftime show that included M.I.A. doing her best Bud Adams impersonation for the cameras, the NFL suggested that legal action could be taken.

And it was.  Quietly.  But aggressively.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the NFL filed a claim for arbitration in March 2012, seeking payment in the amount of $1.5 million.

Those two realities strongly imply that the contract between the NFL and M.I.A. contained a clause requiring the parties to pursue any legal actions through private arbitration, and possibly that the agreement has a “liquidated damages” clause requiring M.I.A. to pay $1.5 million if she breaches the performance standards.

Via the Hollywood Reporter, a contract was signed on January 30, 2012.  While M.I.A. received no compensation for the performance, in the agreement she “acknowledge[s] the great value of the goodwill associated with the NFL and the tremendous public respect and reputation for wholesomeness enjoyed by the NFL,” and she “ensure[s] that all elements of [her] Performance, including without limitation [her] wardrobe, shall be consistent with such goodwill and reputation.”

From a legal standpoint, the case is simple.  She violated the contract, and now she must pay the damages.

But M.I.A. reportedly plans a media assault against the league, which her lawyer already has launched.

“Of course, the NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious,” lawyer Howard King said, “in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams.”

King also said that M.I.A. “is going to go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident, while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to.”

And this is one of the reasons why people don’t like lawyers.  Instead of focusing on the merits — M.I.A. fired off a one-fingered salute in violation of her contract — King has chosen to throw stones at the NFL and raise irrelevant issues.

The case is fairly simply.  M.I.A. was given a worldwide platform and deliberately disregarded her contract.  Though the NFL’s various P.R. problems could win M.I.A. a few jurors in the court of public opinion, this is a  straightforward business dispute.

If the NFL didn’t act to protect its interests, the NFL ultimately would have no control over the multi-millionaires who position themselves to make even more millions by taking advantage of the enormous publicity that the Super Bowl halftime show provides.

66 responses to “NFL quietly filed $1.5 million claim against M.I.A. for Super Bowl middle finger

  1. “I fly like paper, get high like planes
    If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
    If you come around here, I make ’em all day
    I get one down in a second if you wait”

    “Some some some I some I murder
    Some I some I let go
    Some some some I some I murder
    Some I some I let go”

    Yeah, because those lyrics sound exactly like they would come from someone who appreciates wholesomeness, has a healthy respect for goodwill and maintains a positive reputation….

  2. Maybe the half time shows have passed me by, or I have passed them by, but I did not even watch, except for a snipit or two while making a pitstop and getting meat from the smoker, and doing some grilling. If MIA violated the contract, then this is simple contract law. Take it to court, with the contract and video and their will be quick verdict.

  3. She signed a contract and then deliberately disregarded it so that she could gain more fame and notoriety (read: money). All the BS her lawyer spews is simply aimed at getting the NFL to back off. The facts are simple and this “entertainer” has no defense. She did it on purpose and millions saw it.

  4. f the NFL didn’t act to protect its interests, the NFL ultimately would have no control over the multi-millionaires who position themselves to make even more millions by taking advantage of the enormous publicity that the Super Bowl halftime show provides.
    I may be in the minority, but I would recognize a puppy from the puppy bowl on the street over recognizing MIA. And I’m sure the middle finger she flipped generated millions for her.

  5. Gosh have to say the lawyer makes a good argument. Isn’t using the middle finger a performance choice and part of the act and the image? You sure don’t see comedians getting sued for making tasteless jokes during a Roast. Part of show business is understanding what kind of act and art-form you are getting involved with and the NFL is going to have a hard time proving that using the middle finger is a bad thing if it is an ingredient for the particular type of art-form that was being exhibited.

    I think M.I.A.’s lawyers should be able to draw up a strong argument on that basis for whatever this particular type of art was, and M.I.A. was going for high performance standards and this finger bit fit perfectly for that chosen plan. It’s the plan that was pitched to the NFL that they forgot about, do you want to see the reminder piece we drew up for that conversation 6 months prior? You might not remember the specific key words from that meeting that solidify this equally amusing point. Nevertheless, our counter-offer is to settle for $1, but that’s as high as we’re going. The next time we talk you are going to have to pay us.

  6. M.I.A.’s lawyer is absolutely right.

    Ask yourself this. It’s 2am in Denver. Would you rather take your chances with M.I.A. or Tom Heckert and Matt Russell?

  7. Why did the NFL chose her to perform anyway and just what is the point in flipping the bird like she did? I hope they get every penny and she has to go back to wherever she came from…using genocide as a cop out, c’mon man…

  8. Even after a search I still must ask “Who is this person?”

    The other question I have is does this person have to pay a lump sum or pay with installments?

  9. What she wanted was publicity, under the theory that “all publicity is good publicity.” Like a celebrity leaking their sex tape just before their reality show is to premier, and crying foul.

    She got the publicity she wanted on a worldwide stage, what she did was offensive, and she should lose the arbitration.

  10. Coming To A Courtroom Near You … A New Cynical Comedy, From The People Who Brought You “The Wardrobe Malfunction” …

  11. The NFL ignored the genocide in her home country? Seriously? She had the world as a platform and could have worn a t-shirt that said “Stop Genocide” or performed a meaningful song. Instead she flipped off the audience like a junior high kid acting out during the school photo. What a twit.

    You play you pay.

  12. The NFL is concerned about a middle finger, yet they rigged an entire postseason to honor a murderer and get him another championship?

  13. If it takes someone breaching their contract to bring more attention to all the evils of the NFL, then I’m fine with it.

    There’s a reason NFL is trying to do this quietly.

  14. Hmmm, so you can stomp a prone man, try to take off the head of another, kick another in the groin, blatantly kneecap another, just a few in a long series of assaults, and you’re still welcome in NFL, but she doesn’t meet their standards?

    The crimes Suh has done would have gotten him jailed long ago if they happened anywhere but in the NFL. Even after the fifth fine (one fifteenth of hers), he is welcome to come right back to keep on doing his thing. But they want more money from a singer than all of Suh’s fines put together. That does say a lot about their standards, to me. Wholesome, my a.

  15. Money grab by the nfl. D bags picking on anonymous performer who worked for free. They bring more attention to the issue by suing her. Where’s the suit against timberlake hypocrites?

  16. Doesn’t matter that the entity that hired her (NFL) isn’t wholesome. A contract is a contract. She got the gig to sing, not flip off the audience. She probably is going to pay. Her lawyers will get it down from 1.5M though. The money means nothing to the NFL, probably a wash after the legal costs. Just protecting their brand.

  17. This is ridiculous. I mean really. 1.5 Million for a finger? It’s over. Which Super Bowl was this in? The last one or the one before it? either way, let it go, NFL. You aren’t going to get any money out of her, anyway. Blood from a turnip.

  18. This guy is actually a lawyer???

    “Despite the fact that my client clearly violated the terms of her contract, it shouldn’t really matter because look at all these other problems over there!! Case dismissed… right??”

  19. Wait there was a halftime show last Super Bowl? I remember the game, I remember the lights going out, but I don’t remember MIA. Oh yeah I changed the channel as soon as she started singing so who cares lol

  20. First of all, the NFL punishes players who violate the code of conduct. Secondly, claiming that because the NFl has an employee who may have committed murder gives your client the right to flip off the country is not a very strong argument. Particularly in light of the fact that the accused murderer is no longer employed by an NFL team.

    The other arguments about the conduct of M.I A. sound like half baked diatribes from drunk college kids. M.I. A. needs a new lawyer. Hunter is a clown.

  21. Funny, I havent heard about MIA since. Having said that…if the NFL wants wholesomeness, maybe they should invite Up With People and Brian Boitano back to perform (Wiki Superbowl Halftime history for a laugh down memory lane).

  22. Her lawyer is just suckering her to keep his billable hours up.

    Highly doubt she’ll get the ACLU or any one else to defend her for free.

    The NFL with its vastly more deep pockets and army of lawyers will just bleed her dry and run her a bill way more than 1.5 million.

  23. Simple solution is to quit having halftime shows. It’s like having a football game in the middle of a concert. The NFL doesn’t need those people to get a large audience.

  24. First I wouldn’t know MIA from AOL, but It could have been worse, it could have been the Eagles or some other washed up act from the 70s up there….

  25. This lawyer knows he has literally no way to win this case so he’s decided he’s gonna go out swinging. And it’ll do nothing.

    You think the NFL isn’t bringing some guns to a $1.5 million dollar case? A case involving a lewd act on the NFL’s time? Hahaha the leagues lawyers will look at those claims and chop em down so fast that lawyer will be MIA.

    I can hear it now…


    “but people in her country are being oppressed!!!”

    “For the hundreth time, irrelevant”

    and then MIA signs all her money over to the NFL. Hope that went well for her.

  26. M.I.A. lawyer is accurate in his statements at the same time M.I.A. is guilty. So…thanks for playing along. Now pay the $1.5 mil.

  27. Funny, but all those things the lawyer referenced existed before she (it is a she, right?) signed the contract – just wondering where the moral outrage was then?

    This case may prove that lawyers are in fact undead souless creatures though. Google says “lawyer Howard King” died in 1993: “Howard King, a lawyer whose clients included Stevie Wonder, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, died on Saturday at his home. He was 48.”

  28. Who the hell is this guy? No wonder his name is MIA, no one has ever heard of him. This just goes to show that the NFL needs to stop hiring no-name acts (such as Bruno Mars) for the Super Bowl.

  29. Hey NFL. Maybe you should google each act for 5 minutes before offering them the biggest stage in the world. Morons. I’m gonna go walk my dog by a lagoon full of alligators but its cool bc they all agreed not to eat him.

  30. if the contract says M.I.A. should keep in line with the “goodwill” on the N.F.L. then her flipping the bird is totally ok. her point is legit; the N.F.L. are hypocrites and frauds when it comes to their “reputation” and standards. What is more offensive; the third finger on a human hand in a certain position or the bounties, rapes, murders, assaults, arrests and violence N.F.L. players commit every week? I think the answer is obvious.

    And, oh yeah, look around the corporate/media/gov’t world….contracts these days are not worth the paper they are printed on.

  31. Super Bowl IV that I attended in NO some time back had Ella and Sarah as halftime entertainment.

    They haven’t approached that level of class since.

  32. We were behind the goal posts and the press box was on our right.

    If Stenerud had kicked his field goals a bit higher, I may have caught the ball.

    I went courtesy of a bond law firm who gave the tickets to a friend who was mayor of Gonzales.

  33. Well, unlike apparently everyone else here I happen to know who MIA is and actually like a lot of her music. In this instance, the NFL is being idiotic–everything about this woman, literally every single thing about her, screams “loose cannon”. It’s basically her brand. Why are they putting her on a live international stage when they have no hope of controlling her, if they’re so concerned about image? It makes no sense, it’s like the Reagan-era White House selecting Richard Pryor to emcee the Correspondents’ Dinner.

    They can whine about their right to liquidated damages all they want, it’s their own blend of naivete and hubris that brought on the result.

  34. Gotta admit, the claiming she violated the wholesomeness of Anthony Hernandez is a pretty funny thing.

    Actually – I would love to see MIA face criminal charges for “violating wholesomeness.”

  35. What short memories some of you have. First of all MIA was part of the Madonna half-time show and Madonna herself went off on her afterwards for injecting her own “style” into what was supposed to be Madonna’s big night.

    Second, another sign that most of you have short memories, is the word ARBITRATION. No one is going to court. They are going to have an arbitrator listen to the arguments and then decide if there was a breach of contract. It’s plain and simple and has nothing to do with the arrest records of players, the concussion issues, or whether Bud Adams flipped someone off or not (Bud was fined, so why shouldn’t MIA be fined?).

    The Who didn’t flip anyone off. The Stones didn’t. The Boss didn’t. I’m pretty sure Bruno won’t. MIA attempted to make that halftime show all about her and she succeeded. Now it’s time to pay the piper.

  36. babyfarkmcgeezax says:

    The NFL is concerned about a middle finger, yet they rigged an entire postseason to honor a murderer and get him another championship?
    Maybe the sinus infection is slowing me down, but it took several minutes for me to figure out what you were talking about. Dude … come on! That’s just ridiculous. And I’m a Steelers fan!

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