Admit it. At one time or another, your favorite NFL team has made you mad enough to want to take it to court. While you can’t yet sue a team for losing — which is good news for Jacksonville — there are multiple other avenues to bring your team to your vision of justice … and now, one Giants/Jets fan is attempting exactly that.
Representing an as-yet-unidentified class of New York-based Jets and Giants fans, Abdiell Suero of New York City has filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the NFL, Giants, Jets and MetLife Stadium. His contention: the Giants and Jets, playing in New Jersey, are improperly and illegally benefitting from the use of “New York” in their team names. (Yahoo Sports has reached out to the attorney for Suero.)
Suero vs. NFL et. al. is a lawsuit with some … interesting contentions about the connection between an NFL team’s precise geographic location and its inherent value, and some dubious claims about the responsibility of teams to look out for their fans’ convenience. The suit asks for $6 billion — yes, with a b — in damages, which means it’s got about as much chance of success as the Jets do of getting to double-digit wins.
Still, buried deep in the lawsuit, there’s a kernel of truth, and an opportunity for teams to better understand the needs of their most loyal — if not necessarily most profitable — fans. Let’s break down some of the key paragraphs within:
23. Many NFL fans who attend Giants or Jets games for the first time are unaware that these teams play out-of-state.
Respectfully, the “WELCOME TO NEW JERSEY” roadside signs should have tipped them off.
24. Many NFL fans would not attend live games of the Giants or Jets if they were warned in advance that they play in the State of New Jersey.
You can just hear the “AAAAOHHHH!” from Tony Soprano and the Bada Bing crew at this line.
26. The NFL engages in this practice with other popular franchises, including the Dallas Cowboys (who play in Arlington, TX), the Washington Football Team (who play in Landover, MD), and the San Francisco 49ers (who play in Santa Clara, CA).
This is a fair point, though it’s not really the NFL engaging in the practice, it’s the teams themselves … all of which, it should be noted, are farther away from their geographic namesake than MetLife Stadium is from New York.
34. It is therefore clear that Defendants have intentionally advertised and branded the Giants and Jets falsely, to increase their gross revenue and value of their franchises at the expense and to the detriment of Plaintiff and the class, the State and City of New York, and millions of NFL fans.
The NFL also calls its season-ending championship the “Super Bowl” when, in fact, many of the games have not been “super” at all. (Fair is fair: most of the Super Bowls involving the Giants and Jets have indeed been quite good.)
39. Plaintiff and the class of Giants and Jets fans must travel out of state to watch live Giants and Jets games, with roundtrip times taking an average of four hours or more on game day at a very high cost either by way of public transportation or motor vehicle.
We’re not going to compare fandoms here, but Steelers fans have determined that it’s literally cheaper to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms for away games than tickets to Heinz Field. It’s all in how badly you want it.
42. Car service after games from MetLife Stadium to New York City whether by Uber, Lyft or Taxi costs $125 or more … Many drivers load their cars with multiple couples and groups so they can charge $400 or more per ride after a game.
A New Yorker skirting the rules to fleece someone out of a few bucks? Well, now I’ve heard everything!
49. Public transportation from the City and State of New York to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey uses a haphazard system of subways, trains, and buses, together with extensive periods of walking and stairs to transport Plaintiff and the class of NFL Giants and Jets fans from the City and State of New York to East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the New York Giants and Jets play all home games.
This seems more of a New York/New Jersey infrastructure problem than an NFL problem.
51. The inconvenient out-of-state location of MetLife Stadium is further reflected by the fact that the percentage of empty seats at Giants and Jets games makes them among the least attended home games in the NFL over the past decade since MetLife Stadium was constructed.
Yeah, I’m going to go way out on a limb here and say the fact that the Giants and Jets are collectively two of the worst teams in the NFL over the last decade has led to those empty seats. If the Giants were the No. 1 seed and the Jets weren’t constantly sawing off their own feet, you wouldn’t be able to find a ticket.
60. Plaintiff and the class of Giants and Jets fans lost their connection with the teams when they relocated to New Jersey and maintain minimal sports identification with the Giants and Jets due to their stadium being located in New Jersey.
The Giants moved to New Jersey in 1976. No one under the age of 50 has meaningful memories of the Giants in New York.
The Jets moved to New Jersey in 1984. No one has meaningful memories of the Jets, period.
62. As Giants and Jets fans, Plaintiff and the class are insulted, ridiculed, harassed, tormented, and bullied by NFL fans around the United States due to the affiliation of the Giants and Jets with the State of New York rather than their true home, New Jersey.
Uh … geographic location isn’t why Jets and Giants fans are ridiculed. And really, at this point, it’s not harassment, it’s intervention. We’re worried about you.
63. Plaintiff and the class have suffered mental and emotional damages including depression, sadness, and anxiety, as well as limited and damaged eustress, self-esteem, escape, entertainment, group affiliation and family needs as a result of Defendants’ conduct.
If we’re going to start suing football teams based on the emotional distress they visit upon their fans, hoo boy, that’s a Pandora’s box that anyone outside of New England would happily throw open. I grew up an Atlanta Falcons fan, and I have two numbers and a dash that I would bring before the court with the expectation of an immediate multimillion-dollar verdict in my favor.
80. The Giants and/or Jets can relocate and build a new stadium next to Citi Field and the National Tennis Center in Queens, or other available property in the five boroughs of New York City, or the adjacent counties of Westchester or Nassau.
Seems simple enough. I’m sure there’s plenty of stadium-sized property in the five boroughs available for a reasonable price. Sure, you’re going to pay $500 for a beer and hot dog to cover the move, but it’s a New York beer and hot dog!
83. Plaintiff … is an American citizen and resident of the City and State of New York and fan of the NFL Giants and Jets.
Both the Giants and Jets? Isn’t that illegal?
113. The Giants and Jets logos constitute false advertising as both incorporate the name and abbreviation of New York (“NY”) while both teams play in the State of New Jersey (“NJ”).
While we’re on the subject, the Green Bay Packers do not actually play in Green Bay! To be fair, though, it is very difficult to play football in a body of water with a mean depth of 65 feet, even for Aaron Rodgers.
115. Defendants trade under the “New York” and “NY” geographic location, name, and brand, deceiving Plaintiff and the class, together with millions of additional individuals and entities.
The court will also note that the rosters of the so-called “Giants” and “Jets” do not actually include any gargantuan god-men or high-tech aircraft, but are comprised entirely of plain old human beings.
117. Defendants’ website www.metlifestadium.com contains false advertising, including the following false statement: “MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Jets and New York Football Giants, is the number one stadium in the world…” ... There are approximately 27 sports stadiums and arenas around the world that are larger than MetLife Stadium. The stadium does not have a dome or retractable roof, so spectators are uncomfortably hot or cold for most games, and the location in East Rutherford, New Jersey is hardly ideal. The transportation system to and from MetLife Stadium does not contain sufficient infrastructure. MetLife Stadium is clearly not the “number one stadium in the world.”
Also, New York is called the Big Apple, when in fact it’s not an apple at all! As a matter of fact, all the real apples within New York are normal-sized! Disappointing!
125. NFL fans are tricked into believing that the Giants and Jets play in the State of New York when in fact they play in the State of New Jersey.
This assumes that NFL fans even think about the Giants and Jets at all during the 8,757 or so hours each year that their team is not playing the Giants or Jets.
134. Plaintiff and the class demand $2 billion in compensatory damages and $4 billion in punitive damages
I mean, shoot your shot.
122. Plaintiff and the class demand that the Giants and Jets remove the “New York” and “NY” designation from their name and merchandise until they return to the State of New York.
This right here is the point. This is what the plaintiff ought to focus on, but not for the reasons outlined in the complaint.
The Giants and the Jets shouldn’t be named after New York not because of their location, but because they don’t deserve to be named after New York. Both teams have equal 22-58 records since 2017, worst in the NFL. That’s as bad as it gets! Call them the Jersey Giants and East Rutherford Jets until they earn the New York moniker back!
Now, let’s get real. It’s easy to clown on a lawsuit like this (fun, too) because of its hyperbolic claims. But the suit is a reflection of the constant fan discontent that lurks around the edges of every NFL team. Getting to a game — any game, any team, any city — is an expensive and time-consuming prospect, swallowing up hundreds of dollars and a dozen hours every time.
The Plaintiffs of the world just want to watch their beloved team play football. When their team decides to chase more profitable fans, it hurts. Whether the team’s building flashier digs in the same general area (San Francisco and, soon, Washington) or pulling up stakes entirely and leaving the whole city behind (St. Louis, Oakland, San Diego), the end result rarely benefits, and always costs, the longtime fan. And when the Giants pull crap like the “thanks for your support, here’s one medium soda” debacle from a few weeks back, it becomes impossible to have any sympathy for them.
Bottom line: if this case ever did make it to trial, the Giants and Jets better hope no season ticket holders are on the jury.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.