During his brief moment of national relevance last month, former Duke basketball and NBA player Brian Davis insisted he would not sue if his effort to buy the Washington Commanders fails.
Technically, Davis hasn’t sued anyone. His company, however, now has.
Via Jason Morrin of ConductDetrimental.com, Urban Echo Energy has filed a lawsuit against Bank of America over the failed bid to buy the team. In the civil complaint, the company claims that Bank of America failed to present the $7.1 billion bid to outgoing owner Daniel Snyder and that, if Bank of America had done so, Snyder would have accepted it.
The lawsuit also contends that $5.1 billion had been deposited with Bank of America for the transaction.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Davis said on April 19 regarding the possibility of a lawsuit, during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan in D.C. “That’s ridiculous. The last thing I would want to do is hurt the team, hurt the league, or anyone else. What I’m trying to do is make a contribution. What I want them to do is accept the capital so we can do something bigger and together, something collaborative. And as I said, I’m trying to be connective tissue. I would never sue anyone. I never sued anyone in my life. I’ve been sued, but I never sued anyone in my life.”
This lawsuit could be a precursor to a broader attack on the NFL’s rules regarding the purchase and sale of franchises. If the effort to force Bank of America to proceed prevails, at some point the argument will be that the league’s rules regarding the manner in which private companies are sold from one party to another constitute violations of the antitrust laws, since all 32 franchises are independent businesses.
Depending on the way this lawsuit unfolds, it could potentially plunge the entire sale process into chaos, delaying the sale to Josh Harris for $6.05 billion while Davis’s company tries to force the sale of the Commanders to him, regardless of whether he personally has the cash necessary to buy 30 percent of the team and regardless of the specific source of the money that would be purchasing the asset.
There has been at least one report raising the question of whether Davis’s financial backing traces to Saudi Arabia. Asked that question on 106.7 The Fan, Davis said, “My money comes from white people . . . who are Jewish, Italian, and Sicilian.”
Regardless of who his investors might be, Davis must have enough money to purchase without debt or investment 30 percent of the company in his own name. Unless, of course, he is able to successfully challenge the NFL’s rules and regulations regarding franchise ownership as antitrust violations.
If that’s where this is headed, and if it works, it would revolutionize the rules for NFL ownership, opening the door to private equity funds (domestic and foreign), corporate acquisitions, and in theory a decision by one or more current owners to take their teams public.