NFL wants $16.6 million for M.I.A.’s middle finger

Pro football knows how to play hardball.

The NFL has opted to apply the screws to M.I.A., who made a guest appearance during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis — and who fired off an unscripted middle finger to someone/anyone/everyone/no one.

In 2012, the league filed an arbitration claim against M.I.A., seeking payment for the $1.5 million specified in the contract for failure to adhere to certain performance standards.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the NFL now wants more.  A lot more.

Above and beyond the $1.5 million, the league wants another $15.1 million as restitution for the value of the exposure she received during the two-minute appearance on the most-watched TV show of the year.

The opposition to the effort to push the total liability to $16.6 million accuses the NFL of bullying M.I.A. and making an example of her for “daring to challenge” the league.  Her lawyer also points out that past Super Bowl halftime acts have included inappropriate behavior, from Michael Jackson grabbing his crotch in 1993 to Prince “caressing the neck of his stylized trademark guitar . . . as if stroking an erect oversized phallus” in 1997.

M.I.A. also fires a shot at NBC for failing to activate the “5-second delay” system.  PFT partners with NBC and I separately work for NBC, so what I say next could be biased.  But the argument seems like a bogus way of shifting responsibility away from M.I.A.’s conduct.  No one forced her to fire off a middle finger during the performance, and NBC had no reason to believe she would do something like that, especially after signing a contract requiring her to pay $1.5 million if she did something like that.

Still, it appears the NFL is overreaching when trying to get an extra $15.1 million from M.I.A.  If the consequences of misbehavior will be restitution for the value of the exposure, that’s what should have been in the contract.

In matters of litigation and arbitration, it’s a common tactic to load the cannon with as many arguments seeking as much money as possible.  Asking only for $1.5 million makes $1.5 million the 100-cents-on-a-dollar recovery.  Asking for $16.6 million makes $1.5 million feel more like a middle ground outcome for a misguided middle finger.

65 responses to “NFL wants $16.6 million for M.I.A.’s middle finger

  1. Sue for $15 mil, settle for $2 mil, still end up with more than what they had originally wanted in the 1st place. It’s a win/win ’cause maybe this idiot will go away now!

  2. If the NFL wins, can we get some of that money over to the Panthers? We need some receivers. And offensive linemen. And corners. And a safety.


    Sad Panthers Fans

  3. My entire family had to go into rehab after seeing her performance. Not because of the middle finger, but because she sucked so bad.

  4. I bet she wishes she didnt try to act cool and cry for attention now. Nothing says “I’m anti-establishment” like selling out for a super bowl halftime show.

  5. The only reason the NFL is asking for the extra 15 is to get the $1.5M.

    And whatever you think about a billion dollar league expending all this energy to recover $1.5m, the fact is she signed the contract, she broke the contract, she owes the money. Pay up.

  6. While I think she’s a fool and a selfish brat….it was done while singing an, I assume, NFL approved line “I don’t give a s**t…”

  7. I hope they get every penny. Not because the offense warrants it, but becasue it will hopefully result in the end of M.I.A.’s career, which to this point has been little more than a marketing exercise. Anytime we can get rid of another no talent, tone corrected, two bit wannabe, that’s a win for all of us.

  8. “value of the exposure she received during the two-minute appearance on the most-watched TV show of the year.”

    I knew who she was and I completely forgot about this incident. I don’t think she gained from it.

  9. This is stupid. It’s the most famous thing the talent-less slot has ever done and now you want to give her another 15 minutes in the spotlight…

  10. Bc this is a lot worse than an NFL network employee being charged with a million rapes, owner being arrested, player beating his girlfriend on tape, and all of the other problems. Are they also going to sue Janet Jackson for showing her boob? If the NFL dropped this MIA wouldn’t have received the additional exposure or continue to.

  11. By comparison, the late Bud Adams got a bargain with just a $250,000 fine for his double bird salute to Buffalo fans at a Bills/Titans game in 2009.

  12. The middle finger has commonly been thrown out of court as “Freedom of speech”… I don’t see where the NFL has any leg to stand on.

  13. I have no clue who M.I.A. is … but she has appeared in more Super Bowls than the Minnesota Vikings have over the past 37 years.

  14. Good. It’s about time the NFL was on the right side of an issue. These “Performers” should not be able to get away with this kind of classless acts.

  15. Honestly, this is all about exposure and ratings. MIA (whoever that is) gained exposure and got people talking by flipping the bird at the big game. The NFL has people talking about their league in March, which is their goal, and NBC “forgot” the delay and more people are now talking about their network. It was a win-win for all parties.

  16. Why the NFL picks people like this MIA female that no one has never heard of to play for a mostly male audience is beyond me. AC/DC still sells out stadiums across the planet. If you want us to stop changing the channel during halftime hire someone like them.

  17. Yes, the league full of players and owners that are drug addicts, racists, abusers of women, alcoholics, murderers, thieves, and gang members is very upset with that inappropriate middle finger you are showing MIA.

    ….who is MIA?

  18. I had never heard of her before that and I haven’t really heard much of her since then, but she is kinda hot.

  19. Sue for an exorbitant amount of money for a middle finger when your owners are getting charged with substance abuse, and your players are getting arrested left and right for beating up their girlfriends and kiling people. Come on MAN!

  20. Stop embarrassing yourself, NFL. You’re giving her more exposure than her act warrants and making yourself look stupid in the meantime. Considering the murderers, domestic abusers, and felons who have been a part of the league, a middle finger is hardly worth noticing. After the way you treated the concussion victims, maybe a middle finger is just what you need. Besides, whatever happened to the broadcast time delay?!? Someone didn’t do his job by letting her finger slip through–that’s the person you should hold responsible.

  21. too bad she’s only known as the chick who flipped the bird during the Super Bowl; “Arular” was one of the best and most critically-acclaimed albums of 2005…but then again, nothing good happens when you choose to hang out with Madonna…

  22. On the one hand I can understand the NFL wanting her to return the performance fee because she broke her contract.

    On the other hand an extra 15.5 mil ? How do you spell NFL, G-R-E-E-D

  23. It’s never the featured act….it is ALWAYS the “sidekick” act that pulls crap like this.

    IMO the next halftime artist that the NFL should have for a Super Bowl is Journey, they are loved world-wide and you can be sure that there will be no middle fingers and no slipped nipples b/c Journey is a class act.

  24. M.I.A’s argument about the 5 (or 7) second delay is correct and valid; that’s what it exists for. Even so this is a ridiculous, frivolous, hubristic lawsuit… the NFL might win.

  25. My favourite comments are always when people post ‘who’ like they are an authority on all that is known in music.

    I also liked the comment stating no one has heard of MIA and then wants the NFL to trot out AC/DC (which speaks to me there is most likely a whole array of artists you have not heard of and don’t get me wrong I think AC/DC would be great for a halftime show).

    Myself I was familiar with her work prior to the appearance and I continue to listen to her after the whole debacle.

    As to ‘who’ I’m sure you could cobble together a list of new famous country artists, or for that matter a number of big acts in any music style and I would have the same question… who?

  26. Look, it seems legitimate that the NFL would want to set an example so that bit players at halftime of the most watched TV event of the year don’t come out and do outrageous stuff to get more exposure (no pun) than they should for all the wrong reasons. With that said it seems their lawyers are making a statement via overkill and doing the same thing in reverse. The NFL pays men millions to jeopardize their well-being and then backs away from the wreckage they create. The league and the owners are making billions on this legal monopoly with very little real risk. Watching young men, albethey well paid young men, destroy themselves and then absolving yourself of responsibility makes giving the finger look a little less offensive, no?

  27. MIA’s real name is Mataji, Mataji is a Hindu goddess who, uses her middle finger as a gester of the devine. MIA has said that her use of yhe finger was a spiritual one, not a flipping off as americans persive it. She was born in India and raised in the Untited Kingdom both countries “flip people off ” differently than here in the US.

    I Flip the Matangi … MIA (with … There’s not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi – the Matangi mudra.” 

  28. she kinda looks like Sammy Davis Jr. Only he was better looking.

  29. It happened how long ago? There’s already been a Super Bowl since…get over it!

    God forbid some football fans see a middle finger…or even a boob or MJ grabbing his dangalang…do you ever watch TV at night on NBC??? They have shows of people getting raped, murdered, having sex, doing drugs…talk about hypocrisy! Idiots.

  30. It’s pretty simple, folks. She signed a contract agreeing to pay the 1.5 mill for “failure to adhere to certain performance standards.” Up to her is she wants to run it by a jury – it will be up to them to decide if the finger was outside that line.

    I think the NFL thinks they might lose to a jury – hence the new 15+ mill suit. Clearly an attempt to get her to settle – to pay the 1.5 and end it. Given other NFL halftime incidents, I’d probably end up on her side: Was her’s that much more egregious? I’m not so sure. Stupid of her, yes – monumentally stupid – but violating the “standards” depends on what those standards are in the first place.

    Someone above said she had a good point about the 5 second delay. No, she doesn’t. The contract says what the contract says – and I’m sure it says nothing about the potential for a 5 second delay to cover her actions.

    Last thought: OUTSTANDING photo of Johnny Cash!

  31. This ugly, talentless coont is getting way too much attention…. for the wrong reason… Her one “hit” was an awful song anyways. Why is she still getting publicity? She probably doesn’t even have $6M

  32. What M.I.A. did was pretty juvenile and pointless. Who was she flipping off? Me? The cameraman? But did it cause $16.6 million worth of damage to the NFL? No way. This is just a spiteful, juvenile move in its own right.

  33. The superbowl is a major event, and (gasp!) some people even let their children watch.

    I know, shocking, to say the least.

    Personally I appreciate them lowering the boom on some opportunistic knucklehead who will do anything for attention. I just wished they had the same standards for all the advertising…

    My kids know what the middle finger means, and they can handle it. The constant mention of “please consult a physician if you experience an erection that lasts more than four hours” however, that’s a talk I’m not ready to have.

    These supercharge-grampa’s-libido drug commercials have zero business running in the AFTERNOON. Come on, people! And why in the world are these wrinkly old farts sitting on a hillside in bathtubs, anyway?

  34. How much did they sue Janet Jackson for showing her boob? How much does a player get fined for flipping the bird to fans? This is sorta funny & only reminds us of some rapper nobody even remembers. Typical NFL bullying & another way to keep the NFL in the news.

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