WHEEL ROUTES: Unexpected equality advocates

USA TODAY Sports

This week in WHEEL ROUTES Robert Wheel takes a look at NFL players pressing for marriage equality before the Supreme Court, bad agents and the latest rule changes from the competition

Athletes Come Out In Support of Gay Marriage

In case you don't pay much attention to civil rights litigation, the Supreme Court is likely going to rule on the California same-sex marriage ban this year. Outspoken equality advocates Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita filed an amicus brief in favor of overturning the ban.

The brief highlights the fact that athletes see themselves as role model and have been agents of progress throughout American history. That's not always the case (see: Ty Cobb), but amicus briefs can affect the court in certain circumstances. The military's brief probably saved affirmative action in Grutter v. Bollinger because it raised the specter of all-white officer corps giving orders to all-minority regulars.


What's really remarkable about the brief is that some less-outspoken players have signed on to the brief. Adam Podlesh, Chris Gocong, Alex Mack, Connor Barwin, D'Qwell Jackson, Scott Shanle, Sage Rosenfels, Tom Crabtree, Pat McAfee and Eric Winston aren't the screaming activist types (none of them used the term "lustful cockmonster" in correspondence with a state legislator) but they nevertheless signed on with Kluwe, Ayanbadejo and Fujita.

And the brief provides a bit of insight into how the NFL locker room is changing:

Yet many professional athletes are speaking up — both to clear the way for any teammates who may be gay and closeted, and from an understanding of how even seemingly minor acts by professional athletes can reverberate with the public.

As I've said before, NFL locker rooms are becoming increasingly gay-friendly. Fujita himself has said that the first openly gay NFL player will face bigger obstacles from fans than from his teammates. The NFL is mostly young, college-educated and cosmopolitan, and those are three major indicators of tolerance. That level of tolerance manifests itself in the athletes' amicus brief, and hopefully it will manifest itself again when the first professional football player comes out of the closet.

Elvis Dumervil Might Get Paid No Matter What

Last week NFL agent (and non-attorney) Marty Magid cost his client Elvis Dumervil a ton of money when he couldn't get Dumervil's paperwork in to the Broncos on time, forcing him into a thick pass-rusher market where he will receive a less lucrative contract. As it turns out, Magid wasn't ready to execute a last minute deal and Dumervil had to scramble around South Florida to find a fax machine so he could send in his signed paperwork.

The bottom line is that It's not hard to get a signature in on time, unless you're Marty Magid.


I've been a lawyer for a while now. I've worked on deals worth billions of dollars (thanks for collapsing, Lehman Brothers!) and everyday small business stuff. And I've never been in a situation where I had to wait on a fax. It's too unwieldy. If a principal doesn't have an e-signer then at the very least he will e-mail a scanned in signed copy; a process that's much less cumbersome than faxing. I've even seen someone take a picture of a signed document, text it, and save the JPEG as a PDF.

The bottom line is that It's not hard to get a signature in on time, unless you're Marty Magid. He was negligent and guilty of professional malpractice, so Dumervil can sue him for the difference between the aborted extension and the contract that he does receive. Hopefully between Magid's insurance policy and his assets, Dumervil will receive enough to make himself whole.

The lesson, as always, is that lawyers are always there to help. Don't accept any alternative, especially as your agent.

NFL Rule Changes Resemble NYC Soda Ban

The latest "We swear that we care about player safety, your honor" rule change prevents ballcarriers from using the crown of their helmet to initiate contact with an opposing player when they are outside of the tackle box. The rule is stupid for a number of reasons. It's difficult to administer. The fact that it only applies outside the tackle box is stupid, because that implies that using the crown of your helmet inside the tackle box is safer somehow. It's arbitrary and capricious.

Most non-administrative lawyers are familiar with the term "arbitrary and capricious" because it was recently the grounds for a judge to overturn New York's soda ban. And there are a lot of similarities between the lower-your-head rule and the soda ban. Both rules have good intentions, but they were poorly drafted and have too many exceptions. Soda is just as much of a public health threat as concussions, but only banning some of the instances where diabetes water or helmet-to-helmet hits can harm people in the name of political expediency just makes the proponent look inept.

The solution for Mayor Bloomberg and the NFL is simple: no more half-measures in an attempt to cover your ass. If you're going to ban using the crown of your helmet, you need to ban it in all circumstances. If you're going to ban big gulps, you need to ban them in bodegas as well as restaurants. Otherwise you just look like a chump.

More from SB Nation:

NFL Draft stock report: Under the radar players on the rise

NFL Mock Draft: SB Nation bloggers are on the clock

What Brian Urlacher meant to Chicago

Modeling success: Analyzing the top 5 NFL defenses

Printable bracket for March Madness

NFL Mock Draft: Geno Smith's rapid rise

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