NFL Seeks Additional $15M From M.I.A. For Super Bowl Middle Finger

By Chris DeVille / March 17, 2014

The feud between the NFL and M.I.A. is getting more heated and even more entertaining.

To recap the action so far: M.I.A. flipped off the camera during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012. Less than two months later, the NFL filed with the American Arbitration Association demanding $1.5 million and a public apology from M.I.A., demands she refused to comply with. This private legal battle went public last September, nearly two years after the incident, when NFL lawyers moved to have M.I.A. “deemed liable” for her actions before moving to trial for damages and called her middle finger an “offensive gesture… in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl.” The league also argued that before her performance M.I.A. signed an agreement to put on a wholesome show that involved no “wardrobe malfunctions.” In response, M.I.A.’s lawyer, Howard King, responded by arguing that the NFL shouldn’t make a big flap about something so minor while ignoring real atrocities like the genocide occurring in M.I.A.’s home country of Sri Lanka. King also ridiculed the NFL’s suggestion that it’s a bulwark of family values: “Of course, the NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams.” Got all that? Here’s the latest:

According to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter, the league is now seeking a whopping $16.6 million from M.I.A. in “restitution,” arguing that $15 million represents the value of the exposure she gained during her two-minute segment on stage with Madonna. According to THR, “The figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time.” In other words, the NFL wants to charge one of its halftime entertainers, who performed free of charge, for advertising time! It’s a claim that “lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic,” according to the response papers M.I.A. filed Friday.

King is fighting the charges by compiling a juicy stack of evidence against the NFL’s claims of wholesomeness. He’s even set up an email address for submissions of questionable NFL-related antics — NFL@khpblaw.com — intended to, ahem, “balance the playing field.” The new arbitration papers he filed on behalf of M.I.A. decry the “profane, bawdy, lascivious, demeaning and/or unacceptable behavior by its players, team owners, coaching and management personnel and by performers chosen and endorsed by NFL to perform in its halftime shows.” The paper cites Michael Jackson’s crotch-grabbing, Prince’s phallic guitar-fondling, and Madonna’s performance full of potentially underage women on their backs thrusting their pelvises skyward, stopping just short of accusing the NFL of broadcasting child porn. In addition to halftime lewdness, King puts M.I.A.’s middle finger in the context of the Richie Incognito bullying scandal, a judge’s rejection of the NFL’s proposed $765 million settlement for concussions, and a recent proposal to institute a 15-yard penalty for uttering the “N-word.” King’s papers also argue that the NFL should instead be suing NBC, which broadcasted the game, for failing to implement a five-second delay.

See? Very entertaining! Really hoping the NFL finds some preposterous way to escalate this. In the meantime, here’s the legal paperwork M.I.A. tweeted this afternoon:

[Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.]