TEXAS ATHLETIC PLAYERS TO SUE ESPN for “misrepresentation, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress” after they were banned from the paintball arena at a Dallas-area high school, the league said Monday.
The league also filed a class action lawsuit against ESPN for allegedly violating the First Amendment rights of the players and others to express themselves and communicate with each other.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The players were suspended after a video showed one player wearing a mask and a red shirt during a scrimmage in April, which was later posted on social media.
ESPN declined to comment.
The incident caused some players to boycott school and a number of schools in Texas and across the nation, according to a complaint filed by the players in U.S. District Court in San Antonio.
ESPN initially defended the suspension and said the players were in violation of the school’s policies.
The suspension was ultimately lifted, but the players continued to be punished for their protests.
The NFL Players Association said the suspension violated the league’s anti-discrimination policy, the collective bargaining agreement, and the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The attorneys for the players said they are seeking unspecified damages, but didn’t specify how much.
The union said in a statement that the players will not accept the suspension as an apology.
The owners of the Dallas-Fort Worth Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks also have been banned from participating in the arena since it opened last year.
ESPN also pulled its coverage of the Texas High School Paintball Championship, which began in May, from its website and other social media outlets, according in the lawsuit.
The Dallas Stars and Houston Texans are also among the teams that have been barred from participating.
The high school paintball tournament was the brainchild of Dallas High School student Zachary Williams, who is a former NFL star.
Williams has been involved in other protests against the league, including the one in February, where he held a cardboard cutout of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick while chanting, “I am a proud Black man, I am a Muslim man, we’re not going to stop fighting for our lives.”
The Dallas players were arrested and suspended from the tournament after the video surfaced.
Williams is a member of a group called “Texas Holdout,” which is led by the NFL Players Union.