Ralph Nader is arguing that the Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to suspend star wide receiver Terrell Owens (for, inter alia, publicly criticizing the team and quarterback, shouting at coaches, a physical altercation with a teammate, and then failing to apologize) is consumer fraud because season-ticket holders had an expectation that Owens would play for the team, which barely lost the Super Bowl last year, and was an early favorite this year. (But what about all those New York Times subscribers who expected to read Judy Miller?) The suggestion rises to self-parody, though it exhibits the absurdity of modern consumer fraud law in that it isn’t crazier than suits that actually succeed. But I’m somewhat sanguine about Nader’s latest foray; if he’s tilting at the windmill of trying to make football coaching decisions litigable (Can a fan sue the Washington special teams coach for costing the team the game against Tampa Bay because it reduced the chance the team would go to the Super Bowl and the resale value of his season tickets?), it means he’s not spending time trying to wreck more important industries.
(Yes, I know that one shouldn’t blame the Washington special teams coach for losing the game. But it would be actionable under the Nader regime if a lawyer can find a fan who purchased tickets after hearing coaches say they were trying to avoid senseless penalties this season.)