Report: NFL seeking $16.6M from M.I.A. over Super Bowl middle finger

The NFL is reportedly seeking $16.7 million from M.I.A. (right). (USATSI)
The NFL is reportedly seeking $16.6 million from M.I.A. (right). (USATSI)
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The Super Bowl XLVI halftime show featured Madonna and included an appearance by M.I.A. The only reason we're talking about this more than two years later is because M.I.A. flashed her middle finger during the performance and that prompted apologies from the league and broadcast partner NBC.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the NFL has spent the subsequent two years in arbitration against M.I.A., who wasn't paid for her Super Bowl appearance, seeking $1.5 million for allegedly breaching the terms of her performance contract, as well as tarnishing the league's reputation.

Now the NFL has added an additional claim of $15.1 million in "restitution," a figure based on what advertisers would have paid for Super Bowl commercial time during the two minutes M.I.A. was on stage.

In paper filed Friday, M.I.A.'s response: "The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic." And M.I.A. tells the arbiter that the "continued pursuit of this proceeding is transparently an exercise by the NFL intended solely to bully and make an example of Respondents for daring to challenge NFL."

Meanwhile, M.I.A.'s attorney, Howard King, in an attempt to undercut the league's contention that its reputation has been tarnished, is soliciting information from the public for examples of the NFL's less-than-wholesome image.

Via the Reporter, the latest arbitration papers from M.I.A. notes 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."

One example goes back to the 1993 Super Bowl halftime show that feature Michael Jackson, who grabbed his crotch during his performance.

"This was NFL's first foray into salacious performances in their Halftime Shows," M.I.A.'s arbitration papers point out. "Discovery will demonstrate that NFL was fully aware that Jackson was going to engage in such 'genitalia adjustments' in his performance."

The papers also mention Prince's 2007 halftime show, as well as Madonna's 2012 performance,  before suggesting that NBC is also responsible.

"NFL, and NBC, failed to exercise ordinary care in the conduct of the Halftime show by not activating the '5 second delay' system in place for the broadcast. Any alleged fault or liability of Respondents should be diminished by NBC's dereliction. Discovery has not been taken yet to determine whether contractually NBC owed a duty to NFL to properly operate the delay system. Very likely that is indeed the case."

Here's where we point out that the league didn't fine Dolphins defensive lineman Randy Starks last September for giving his teammates and coaches the finger from the middle of the field during a game against the Browns. Then again, it was the Browns; maybe the NFL figured nobody was watching.

That said, four years earlier, then-Titans owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 after shooting birds like he was playing Duck Hunt.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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