Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, one of the leading wide receivers in the NFL, is expected to receive lucrative long-term contract offers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year. His old management team claims their involvement in these perspective deals was stolen away from them when Jay-Z’s management company, Roc Nation Sports, tortiously interfered with their contract with the star football player.
Florida-based Official Brands sued Roc Nation and its sports subsidiary Roc Nation Sports on Tuesday in Dallas County Court. Neither Bryant nor Roc Nation founder Sean “Jay-Z” Carter are parties to the lawsuit.
Bryant, known for celebrating touchdowns by crossing his arms above his head in an “X,” was franchise-tagged by the Cowboys in March, resulting in a one-year, $12.8M contract.
According to the complaint, Official Brands claims Bryant asked its vice president, Ryan Totka, to handle his off-field interests, resulting in the signing of a two-year contract between Official Brands and Dez I Enterprises in July 2014. Official Brands said it provided “unprecedented services” to build Bryant’s “Throw up the X” brand and “invested substantial time and money” in doing so. It says it oversaw Bryant’s social media accounts, created and managed his personal website, provided tickets to Bryant’s family to Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars games and assisted with charity events.
“Following defendants’ signing of Dez Bryant to a standard representation agreement in November 2014, defendant embarked on a scheme to utilize its employees to unlawfully induce Dez Bryant to terminate Dez I Enterprises Inc.’s contract with plaintiff and to shift all of his off-field business, including the ‘Throw up the X’ brand to defendants,” the complaint states. “The tactics used by defendants to induce Dez Bryant to terminate Dez I Enterprises Inc.’s contract with plaintiff included unsolicited contact with Dez Bryant and making false and disparaging statements to Dez Bryant concerning plaintiff and Ryan Totka, as well as, upon information and belief, providing Dez Bryant with numerous improper enticements in order to induce Dez Bryant to terminate the contract and relationship with plaintiff and Ryan Totka.”
Official Brands further claims it had business discussions with Bryant as late as this year’s Super Bowl, but after contact was suddenly cut off on Feb. 24, it received a cease and desist letter from Bryant’s attorney telling it to stop all uses of “Throw up the X.”
Official Brands claims Roc Nation and its employees made “material false and disparaging statements” to Bryant to get him to break his contract and move his off-field business to Roc Nation Sports. According to Courthousenews.com, Roc Nation Sports declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Founded in 2013, Roc Nation’s sports division has quickly signed several big-name professional athletes, including Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, boxer Miguel Cotto, Seattle Mariners second basemen Robinson Cano and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Official Brands seeks actual and punitive damages for tortious interference. It is represented by attorney John Nation in Dallas.