Back in September, M.I.A. (and her attorneys) raised a stink about the NFL’s $1.5 million lawsuit over the rapper’s 2012 middle finger salute during the Super Bowl halftime show. Now comes news that the NFL is actually seeking an additional $15.1 million in compensatory damages from M.I.A., a figure that the rapper’s team says “lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic.”
While the 167 million households watching the game may have seen the Sri Lankan rapper’s middle finger, lawyer Howard King notes that NFL viewers have seen far worse before. Several years ago, halftime performer Prince pretended to masturbate, and Michael Jackson repeatedly grabbed his crotch during his 1993 halftime performance. The league also assigned a 15-yard penalty to a player for using “the n-word” on the field this year, something that definitely seems a little worse than a quick flip of the bird. Consider, also, the case of alleged NFL madman and future Onion employee Richie Incognito, who’s been under fire for his racist, aggressive behavior toward teammates in the Miami Dolphins locker room.
King says the NFL’s attempt to fine M.I.A. is “transparently an exercise by NFL intended solely to bully and make an example of Respondents for daring to challenge NFL” and also alleges that, if M.I.A. is held at fault, then NBC should also be held at fault for “not activating the ‘5 second delay’ system in place for the broadcast.”