There are at least two Florida citizens who are representing themselves in legal matters this week.
Former NFL defensive end Junior Galette has from time to time on social media (and possibly elsewhere) complained that he has been blackballed from pro football. On Tuesday, he took steps to prove his claims.
In a 21-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Galette sued the league, the NFL Players Association, Commissioner Roger Goodell, and several teams — the Seahawks, Rams, Raiders, Browns, Chiefs, Panthers, and Commanders. Galette, who spent eight years in the NFL, represents himself.
The complaint specifically contends that Galette has been blackballed “just like Colin Kaepernick and put on the blacklist BY THE NFL OWNERS” for speaking out about alleged racial discrimination committed against him by the Commanders. Galette’ allegation of discrimination focuses on the disparity in the contract given to Trent Murphy and the deal offered to Galette in 2018. Galette alleges that, based on the offer he received, he posted on Snapchat: “I swear to god I’m not playing for no slave deals I’ll die before I play for more slave deals.”
Galette alleges that, after making his statement on social media, he was unable to land an acceptable job with another NFL. He contends, for example, that he visited with the Raiders, where coach Jon Gruden allegedly told Galette that he is “one of the best pass rushers I have ever seen but all we have or you is veteran’s minimum 660k.”
Likewise, Galette claims he opted to sign for the veteran minimum with the Rams. Coach Sean McVay allegedly told Galette, “I can’t wait for you to get here you already know most of the guys we are all fired up.” Galette says that defensive assistant Joe Barry asked Galette to pick a jersey number. Then, per Galette, as he was preparing to practice, a staff member told him that there was a “change of plans,” and that Galette was taken back to the airport.
The lawsuit seeks $300 million in damages from the various defendants.
The NFL declined to comment. Presumably, the league will argue that the claims should exclusively be resolved by the available devices under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That’s the approach Kaepernick used.
There’s also a potential defense based on the applicable statutes of limitations.
While anyone and everyone has a right to represent themselves in court, this typically happens only after lawyer after lawyer have declined to offer representation. It would have been a steep uphill battle with a lawyer; without one, Galette will have a very hard time getting anywhere, either in court or in arbitration.