NFL Still Sore over M.I.A.'s Super Bowl Middle Finger, Now Seeking over $16M

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterMarch 18, 2014

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The NFL continues to wage war, attempting to save the game and the fans who adore it. No, it's not engaging a new fight against concussions or the ongoing issue of bullying. The NFL is instead demanding M.I.A. pay over $16 million for the middle finger she flashed over two years ago. 

The Hollywood Reporter's Eriq Gardner (h/t Yahoo Sports) reports on the ongoing arbitration process between the league and the Sri Lankan performer who flashed a middle finger at the Feb. 5, 2012, Super Bowl halftime show during a performance of "Give Me All Your Luvin'."

While a great many may have forgotten about the incident, the NFL hasn't let it go. Gardner writes on the litigation process and the monetary amount the league demands for the naughty gesture: 

M.I.A. wasn't paid for the event as is the custom of the league. But nevertheless, the NFL spent the first two years of arbitration demanding $1.5 million for allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation.

Now the NFL has added an additional claim, seeking $15.1 million more in "restitution" as the alleged value of public exposure she received by appearing for an approximately two minute segment during Madonna's performance. The figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during this time.

The Internet, like the NFL, never forgets. So we give you the extremely brief middle finger offered by M.I.A. below. We do have to warn you that you should not press play if you are offended by gestures. In fact, you should probably log off the Internet altogether if that's the case. 

What is roughly a second of video garnered two years of litigation and what we have to think is a giant waste of time and energy. 

To be fair, this specific gesture will undoubtedly offend a great deal of people watching from home. As Deadspin likes to illustrate year after year, however, just about anything will offend someone watching the Super Bowl. 

However, M.I.A.'s team makes some fine points about the peculiar need for the NFL to win this specific case of indecency. 

Via Gardner's report, M.I.A.'s attorney, Howard King, notes various instances when the highly visible show became unseemly. 

The report points to things such as Michael Jackson grabbing his crotch during 1993's show, Prince motioning in a suggestive manner with his guitar in 2007 and other questionable aspects of Madonna's performance outside the middle finger offered by M.I.A.

The Show prominently features scenes of very young women dancers (possibly not even of adult age) poised in reclining positions, with their feet and hands and/or shoulders planted on the ground behind them. The women lewdly thrust their elevated pelvic areas in a manner unmistakably evocative of sexual acts (very probably qualifying as 'indecent' under the FCC definition), or at the very least, in a manner wholly consistent with the scenes a faire in a strip club.

Essentially, if you are going to waste two years over a gesture seen at sporting events all over the nation, you are going to have every last instance in which the Super Bowl was indecent highlighted. 

Frank Micelotta/Associated Press

As Gardner notes, bullying allegations launched against Richie Incognito and ongoing issues with concussions in the sport are also mentioned. 

Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee has some pointed thoughts on the entire case: 

Certainly, the NFL has the right to protect the integrity of its product, and the halftime show is probably the most valuable space of entertainment real estate in American culture. But the pettiness and hypocrisy of this approach undercut the NFL's stated goal of brand protection.

Busbee goes on to state it's in the best interest of the league to just drop the entire debacle altogether, which really is the most advisable way to end this thing. 

Merely hearing that the NFL is still fighting for recompense for a brief middle finger hardly reminds fans of how offended they may have been. Rather, it serves to bring up a wave of all the serious issues that actually matter to the sport. 

Having no experience in legal matters, I find it hard to say how this will conclude, but it seems unlikely that the NFL will receive its desired sum. 

In fact, that end seems entirely ridiculous, just like suing someone $16.6 million for a middle finger. 


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