NFL Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Former Cardinals Executive

NFL Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Former Cardinals Executive

In a significant decision within the NFL community, an arbitrator has mandated the Arizona Cardinals to compensate Terry McDonough, an erstwhile team executive, the sum of nearly $3 million. This ruling is a consequence of what has been deemed "false and defamatory" statements made by the Cardinals about McDonough. Arbitrator Jeffrey Mishkin, appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, delivered the judgment that underscores a serious breach of personal and professional conduct on the part of the Cardinals.

Defamation Leads to Damages Award

At the heart of the controversy was a CounterPoint Statement issued by the Cardinals, which gravely maligned McDonough. The team accused him of engaging in "extreme domestic violence", neglecting his parental responsibilities by abandoning his daughter, and ceasing her financial support. Such allegations not only sought to tarnish McDonough's personal reputation but also cast a shadow over his professional standing.

The repercussions for these unsubstantiated claims were severe, with Mishkin awarding McDonough $2.25 million in punitive damages, supplemented by $600,000 for emotional distress and an additional $150,000 for harm to his reputation. While other claims brought forward by McDonough, including unlawful retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy were dismissed, the substantial compensation underscores the serious consequences of defamation.

Despite originally seeking up to $125 million in total damages, McDonough's case highlights the importance of integrity and accountability. In response, the Cardinals expressed their respect for the arbitrator’s findings and accepted responsibility for the overreach in their initial statement about McDonough.

Legal Battle and Allegations

McDonough’s fight for justice began last April when he filed the arbitration claim against the Cardinals, accusing owner Michael Bidwill of misconduct. Central to McDonough’s accusations were claims that he was demoted after opposing a questionable scheme involving "burner phones" intended to bypass a suspension. Steve Keim, testifying during the proceedings, claimed it was McDonough who proposed the use of burner phones.

However, the arbitrator Mishkin clarified that McDonough was relieved of his duties as a staffing decision by the newly appointed General Manager Monti Ossenfort, not for the reasons McDonough alleged. The fallout from these events significantly impacted McDonough’s career prospects, with executives from the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens, respectively Joe Douglas and Eric DeCosta, reportedly interested in hiring McDonough but unable due to the allegations made by the Cardinals.

Mishkin highlighted that McDonough was unable to prove that he would have secured a position elsewhere had the Cardinals not released their defamatory statement. This information sheds light on the complexities and repercussions of the case beyond the substantial financial settlement.

Looking Forward

The resolution of this legal dispute brings a close to a contentious chapter between McDonough and the Arizona Cardinals. McDonough’s decade-long tenure with the Cardinals' front office was marked by professional achievements but ended in controversy and legal battles. Owner Michael Bidwill's staunch denial of liability for McDonough's claims underscores the often-tumultuous nature of executive relationships in the high-stakes world of professional sports.

As the NFL and its teams continue to navigate the delicate balance between public relations and personal accountability, the settlement in favor of Terry McDonough serves as a stark reminder of the implications of defamation. It emphasizes the necessity for truth, fairness, and respect within the professional sporting community and beyond.

In closing, the Cardinals’ expressed gratitude for the resolution of the arbitration signals a willingness to move beyond this episode, striving for a future marked by responsible communication and respect for the dignity of all its members. The case of Terry McDonough vs. the Arizona Cardinals not only resolves significant personal grievances but also sets a precedent in how professional sports organizations handle internal disputes and public statements.