By Ron Borges
Anybody still scratching their head as to why New England Patriots former assistant videographer/personnel department gofer Matt Walsh has been so insistent on receiving air-tight protection from being sued by his former employer before coming forward with whatever he knows or doesn’t know about Bill Belichick’s mastery of the surreptitious uses of film and audio in the NFL need only read Monday’s Boston Herald to clear up the confusion.
In the Herald’s business section is a story about how one of the richest organizations in professional sports is suing a former ticket holder for $54,000, the difference between what a lower court awarded it after Boston Finance Committee member Paul Minihane tried to get out of the 10-year-contract he signed in 2002 for two premium seats at Gillette Stadium.
According to the story, Minihan put down $7,500, one tenth of the $75,000 10-year cost, to buy two premium seats at $3,750 each per season. With them came priviledged parking spaces, the right to purchase Super Bowl tickets and year-round access to Gillette’s function rooms as well as other perks.
According to the Patriots, after one season Minihan stopped paying and they now are trying to collect the full amount, even though the tickets could be re-sold to the next name on what they have long claimed to be a waiting list of over 50,000 people. A lower court ruled that Minihan owed them $6,000 and allowed the Patriots to keep his $7,500 deposit, meaning they would have been paid for two seasons plus have received a $6000 vig for their trouble.
This did not satisfy them however so they are appealing to the state Supreme Judicial Court in a case that will be argued today. Minihan argued and a Superior Court judge agreed that the Patriots were not damaged to the tune of $75,000 and should just take the $13,500 award and sell Minihan’s tickets to someone else. With the size of their waiting list that would seem to have been far easier and cheaper than dragging this poor sap through the court of appeals trying to argue a technicality of contract law.
But, as Matt Walsh knows, the field is not the only place where the Patriots play hardball. This is the same team that charges $50 for a baby being carried into the stadium in one of those front loading baby sacks, the only professional team in Boston to charge for a child under three. Airlines, you might know, will never be confused with philanthropists but they too don’t charge for infants unless they occupy a seat either.
If the management of the Patriots is willing to drag an disgruntled former customer in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court over $54,000 which they could have easily gotten back from the next name on the list (assuming all that talk of a list is true) while also getting over two years of payments from Minihan for one season of tickets what would they be willing to try and do to a whistle blower threatening to hurt their reputation for real?
Matt Walsh doesn’t know but he doesn’t want to take a chance to find out. Paul Minihan probably fully understands why.