SBD/Issue 241/Leagues & Governing Bodies

McNair Denies Having Secret Meetings With Players About Union

McNair (c) Firmly Denies Having
Meetings With Players About NFLPA
Texans Owner Bob McNair firmly denied having secret meetings with NFL players in order to influence the direction of the NFLPA, charges made in a lawsuit filed last week by former NFLPA director of human resources Mary Moran. "Those allegations are absolutely false and there is no truth to this whatsoever," McNair spokesperson Tony Wyllie said. The lawsuit claims McNair met with former NFLPA President Troy Vincent and then-Texans TE Mark Bruener and Texans K Kris Brown, both senior members of the union, "in order to give the owners access to critical confidential information before the negotiations between the union and the owners re-opened next year." The lawsuit also alleged a similiar meeting last year between Vincent and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL says Goodell has met with many players on a wide range of issues, but not on labor. The U.S. Department of Labor is currently investigating the NFLPA on these charges, the union said. A DOL spokesperson said, "My response is we cannot comment on this matter at this time" (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

Suit Says Vincent Illegally
Released Player Information
LAWSUIT CLAIMS PLAYERS' DATA LEAKED: The lawsuit also claims the widely publicized data breach at the NFLPA affected not just agents, but NFL players as well. Players were never told that their personal financial information was transmitted outside of the union offices. The NFLPA earlier this year disclosed that Vincent had compromised the personal information of player agents in December '07 by sending them to his business partner Mark Mangum. But according to the discrimination lawsuit filed by Moran, an investigation undertaken by NFLPA Dir of Security Tim Christine “uncovered ... that Vincent had illegally released social security numbers and banking information of the players, agents and financial advisers to Mr. Mangum, his business associate, for their personal financial gain and the gain of their financial services company, Eltekon.” The NFLPA had no immediate comment. Lynne Bernabei, Moran’s attorney, said, “I think the players have a right to know their private financial information was breached in the way it was breached. … My understanding is that Mr. Vincent gave (Mangum) his password (to the NFLPA computer system) so that he could do it directly.” Vincent declined to comment, saying he had not heard of the lawsuit. Mangum did not immediately return a phone call for comment. Vincent and Mangum are not named as defendants. At the time the NFLPA launched the investigation earlier this year, Vincent was the leading contender to win the NFLPA Exec Dir job. The data breach was portrayed by his supporters as an innocent error. But the lawsuit portrays it as illicit and said Christine uncovered “50 potential illegal activities of Mr. Vincent.” The lawsuit alleges the data breach violated the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (Kaplan & Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

REASONS FOR OUSTER: In N.Y., Judy Battista reports Moran brought the suit because she "claims she was harassed by union officials and was wrongfully removed from her job" with the NFLPA "when her role as a confidential informant" in the DOL's investigation of the NFLPA came to light. However, a person with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Moran was "put on administrative leave only after she made it clear to the union that she intended to sue over the suspected harassment" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2). YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Cole cited two sources as stating that Moran was "recently placed on 'administrative leave' with the intention of the union firing her." The NFLPA's thinking was that Moran was a "divisive person in the building and was a source for numerous stories which shed a bad light" on Vincent. An NFLPA source: "We all know there were a lot of people working behind the scenes to undermine Troy, and she was one of them" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/1).

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