Philadelphia Eagles starting Guard, Lane Johnson, posted a heartfelt letter on the Players Tribune this past Wednesday, August 23rd. Johnson reflected on last season’s suspension and said, “this situation has lit a fire under my ass.” For those not aware, Johnson was suspended for ten games in the 2016-2017 season after testing positive for a supplement he believed was approved for use by the league.
Meanwhile, with the 2017-2018 NFL season about to get underway, Johnson is in a legal battle with the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) over last season’s suspension.
Johnson is claiming the league mishandled his test sample and conspired with the NFLPA to “railroad” him into a 10 game suspension.
Part of Johnson’s claim is that his “B sample,” which was to be independently tested, was tested incorrectly and the NFL is hiding the documents proving the allegations.
Unfortunately for Johnson, a New York federal judge has declared that the NFL does not have to disclose documents about their relationship with WilmerHale, the mega law firm that worked alongside the NFL in the investigation and suspension. This is going to make it difficult for Johnson to recover the documents he claims exist.
Law firms and attorneys have client confidentiality protection from the courts in regards to all documents produced on behalf of clients. Johnson being denied access to these documents is not surprising. In order to breach the confidentiality between the two, Johnson would have had to show that the communications between the NFL and WilmerHale were made with the intent of committing or in furtherance of a crime.
The client confidentiality policy is a high bar set by courts, but a necessary one to protect attorneys and their clients throughout the United States.
Johnson is far from done in his fight with the NFL and NFLPA. For more on the active case, click here to read Michael McCann’s breakdown and analysis of why the NFL and NFLPA have a strong case against Johnson.