Terry McDonough, the former vice president of player development for the Arizona Cardinals, is accusing the team and its owner, Michael Bidwill, of defamation and invasion of privacy after comments the team posted on its website and distributed to the media last month.
The new allegations are part of an amended arbitration complaint submitted Friday to Jeffrey Mishkin, the arbitrator selected by the NFL to hear the dispute between McDonough and the Cardinals.
The Cardinals and Bidwill “publicly disclosed private facts about McDonough” and made “false and defamatory statements about McDonough” that the team knew “to be false” as part of an “effort to intimidate and harass him and his family members,” according to the complaint obtained by ESPN.
“We are aware of the amended complaint and remain confident in our position,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “We are precluded from commenting further based on an existing confidentiality order that binds all parties.”
McDonough previously accused Bidwill of gross misconduct — including cheating, discrimination and harassment — in an arbitration claim sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on April 4.
In response, the Cardinals issued a denial through external public relations adviser Jim McCarthy of CounterPoint Strategies. It stated that the team had “learned of disturbing allegations of extreme domestic violence by Terry” and that McDonough had “abandoned responsibility” to “one of his children and had cut her off financially.”
That multipage statement, provided to ESPN and other media outlets, was “untrue and reprehensible,” according to McDonough’s amended complaint.
McDonough and his attorney, Michael Caspino, declined to be interviewed, citing NFL arbitration confidentiality rules, but McDonough’s wife, Lynette, told ESPN after the Cardinals issued their response, “That is the most bizarre and dishonest thing that I have ever heard.”
“Terry has always taken care of his daughter and his two boys and still, to this day, takes care of his daughter, Caroline,” she told ESPN. “I have so much admiration for Terry because he is the kind of man who devoted all his time and energy to his children. He was always there for every game and every event.”
McDonough currently lives in North Carolina near his adult daughter, Caroline, and her mother, his first wife, Jennefer. In the amended complaint, McDonough’s attorney explained that Caroline has “special needs and requires a great deal of attentive care” and that McDonough “has structured and dedicated his entire life around caring for Caroline.”
Also untrue, according to McDonough’s amended complaint, are the team’s descriptions of McDonough exhibiting a “volatile demeanor toward colleagues” that included “threats of violence toward a colleague” and “shouting and physically menacing Mr. Bidwill in full view of many colleagues” as well as “prolonged tardiness and disregarding team protocol” and “willful insubordination” that “would lead to reprimands.”
McDonough’s attorney also denied in the amended complaint the team’s allegation that McDonough “secretly conveyed private personnel documents, descriptions of private meetings, and other confidential information to selected news media, all with the purpose of aiming criticism at his colleagues to benefit himself.”
In addition to the damages McDonough sought in his original complaint, the amended complaint asks Mishkin to award him damages for defamation and invasion of privacy. The complaint also states that attorneys for McDonough and his family are preparing a civil complaint against McCarthy and CounterPoint Strategies to hold him “accountable for his grossly defamatory statements.”
McCarthy did not respond to ESPN’s request for comment.