In filing, McMahon claims Luck fired ‘for cause’

  • ESPN.com national NFL writer
  • ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
  • Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008

The contract dispute between former XFL commissioner Oliver Luck and league owner Vince McMahon spilled into the public eye Wednesday through a response to Luck’s wrongful termination lawsuit.

McMahon’s attorneys said he fired Luck “for cause” and cited three examples of what he called a failure to follow “multiple” XFL policies and directives:

  • “Gross neglect” of the job once the coronavirus pandemic began. According to McMahon, Luck “effectively abandoned his responsibilities” beginning on March 13 by relocating from the XFL’s offices in Stamford, Connecticut, to his home in Indiana and failing to “devote substantially all of his business time to his XFL duties as required by the contract.”

  • Signing receiver Antonio Callaway without McMahon’s approval and then refusing to release him when McMahon ordered him to. McMahon had previously said that he did not want to sign players with problematic backgrounds. Most recently, Callaway had been suspended by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy. He suffered an injury during the XFL’s January training camp and was placed on injured reserve.

  • Personal use of an XFL-issued iPhone, in violation of league policy.

Luck received his termination notice April 9, one day before the XFL suspended operations and three days before it declared bankruptcy. The league is now for sale, according to McMahon’s attorneys.

McMahon hired Luck in May 2018 to be the public face of his second attempt to establish a professional football league. Luck’s contract called for a $5 million annual salary and a $2 million bonus. McMahon personally guaranteed the contract but claims that Luck’s actions invalidated it.

Luck filed his federal lawsuit April 21. The filing is heavily redacted, including portions that appear to respond to his termination letter. One of his attorneys indicated that Luck would respond with a new filing later Wednesday.

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