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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson is firing back at a lawsuit filed earlier this month that accused him of skipping out on a youth football camp organized in his name, arguing instead that the company putting on the event failed to fulfill their part of the agreement in securing his arrival.
Johnson’s agent and attorney released a joint statement Tuesday on the NFL player’s behalf, calling the lawsuit filed by FlexWorks “frivolous” and “a money grab.”
“FlexWorks frivolous lawsuit is nothing more than a money grab with unfounded expenses and charges. This reality is supported by the company’s denial to accept Mr. Johnson’s proposal to offer a makeup camp. Instead, FlexWorks chose to file a petty lawsuit in yet another attempt of a company seeking ‘go-away’ money from a professional athlete,” the statement read, in part.
“Mr. Johnson’s only ‘guilt’ in this matter is trusting FlexWorks to meet Mr. Johnson’s high operational standards will mirroring his passion for prompting football to young people in the community.”
Johnson, who signed a two-year contract extension worth up to $36.71 million earlier this month, was accused by FlexWork Sports Management LLC in a lawsuit filed in federal court on Aug. 3 of failing to show up for a camp appearance at Cupples Stadium on May 22, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, citing court documents.
According to the lawsuit, Johnson’s agent texted the event organizers 13 minutes before the start of the camp to say that the Pro Bowl wideout would arrive later in the day after his flight out of Florida had been canceled due to weather.
Johnson eventually left the airport after not wanting to wait for his second flight, according to the filings.
But Johnson’s representatives countered those claims on Tuesday, arguing that it was FlexWorks that failed to fulfill their contractual obligations in getting him to the camp.
“The allegations that Diontae Johnson purposefully failed to appear to his scheduled youth football camp are completely false,” the statement read. “What FlexWorks inconveniently leaves out of this story are the countless breaches of the arrangement with Mr. Johnson, including the failure to facilitate his timely arrival.
“Although the previously agreed upon requirement to handle Mr. Johnson’s travel was unfilled by FlexWorks, Mr. Johnson made his own attempt to make it to the camp. Unfortunately, those attempts were unsuccessful due to flight delays and cancelations.”
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages after claiming it refunded more than $36,000 and issued the same amount in future credits. The lawsuit also outlined additional losses related to operational costs.