NFL coaching legend Marty Schottenheimer is suing a San Francisco financier who allegedly stiffed him on a multi-million dollar coaching contract with a football league cofounded by the husband of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).
Schottenheimer, the 2004 NFL Coach of the Year with the San Diego Chargers, alleges United Football League cofounder Bill Hambrecht failed to pay his $1.3 million contract to coach the Virginia Destroyers.
"After a period of negotiation, Schottenheimer expressed a willingness to serve as the head coach and general manager of the team," states the complaint, unearthed by Courthouse News Service. "However, because the financial stability and long-term survival of the UFL were unclear, Schottenheimer wanted assurances that the payments owed to him by Team Virginia under his employment contract would be personally guaranteed by Hambrecht. Hambrecht agreed to personally guarantee Team Virginia's payments to Schottenheimer during the first year of his employment."
Schottenheimer’s suit follows that of former NFL Coach Dennis Green, who is suing Hambrecht and Pelosi for failing to make good on his $1.5 million contract with Pelosi’s Sacramento Mountain Lions, as the Free Beacon reported in August.
Green spoke out about his lawsuit for the first time in an exclusive interview with the Washington Free Beacon.
"For ten months I tried to work with them, but [Pelosi's] message was ‘I’ll pay it when I want to, or when you make me,' instead of paying me because he and I have a contract," Green said. "He's making me fight for the money I already worked to earn."
Pelosi and Hambrecht founded the UFL in 2009. Unable to compete for NFL-level playing talent, they offered lucrative, NFL-level salaries to entice popular former head coaches including Green, Schottenheimer, and former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel to join the league.
Green joined the league during its 2009 inaugural season and coached for three seasons. He uprooted his family from San Diego, withdrew his children from school, and purchased a new home in Sacramento after he inked the deal with Pelosi and Hambrecht.
"I bought a house up in Sacramento to be a part of the community. My family came up with me from San Diego during the season," Green said. "I really believed in these guys—I would not go to work with someone if I knew that he was not going to honor the contract."
Green, like Schottenheimer, also alleges he received assurances from Hambrecht that “he and other investors in the UFL would pay for and guarantee the expenses,” according to the suit.
"They did not pay the paycheck that was supposed to be delivered," Green said. "He was basically paying me whatever he wanted to and I never knew how much I would get … by October 2011 [when he filed the suit] it was clear that they were not going to honor the contract."
Hambrecht has joined Pelosi in numerous business ventures and has also made himself available to Leader Pelosi on Capitol Hill. He served as Pelosi’s go-to “banking expert” at four congressional economic forums between 2007 and 2010; she never disclosed their relationship, according to Roll Call.
Rep. Pelosi is among the richest members of congress with a 2010 net worth of $35 million. Paul Pelosi paid Green varying amounts through the year, dropping as low as $5,000 for weeks at a time, according to the suit. Rep. Pelosi’s financial disclosure forms indicate he may have sold stocks to pay for the team.
The Pelosis have not responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
The coaches are not the only UFL members enduring financial hardship. Several Sacramento players, who earn as little as $25,000 per year, were forced to quit because Pelosi had not paid them.
“Definitely,” one player said when asked by a CBS Sacramento reporter if he was being lied to, adding, “I definitely feel like [the owners] know what’s going on. They’re just not letting us know. And the worst thing is feeling uninformed.”
“Players have not been paid yet, but the reality is that they will be paid; we guarantee they will be paid in full and the coaches will be paid in full and we’re going to do that very soon,” Pelosi told CBS Sports during halftime at the October 5th game between Sacramento and Virginia. “We’re very sympathetic and understanding of their plight.”
Green has heard that line before.
"It’s clear that this is the way Pelosi does business. He clearly doesn’t think he has to honor this contract; his response [to my requests] was ‘the attorneys will work it out,’" Green said. "In other words, he’s saying ‘I have a lot of lawyers.’”
Schottenheimer’s suit is being handled in San Francisco Superior Court; he was unavailable for comment, according to his attorney, Cliff Palefsky. Green’s case remains in arbitration.
Update, 9:50 AM: Pelosi and Hambrecht cancelled the second half of the season on Saturday after falling behind on payments to players, coaches and CBS Sports Network, which broadcast league games.