The NFL is sending a strong message to future halftime acts by trying to assess an enormous penalty on a recent performer: Don't mess with us.
The Hollywood Reporter uncovered court documents filed by the NFL in which the league has increased its lawsuit against rapper-singer M.I.A. tenfold, to $16.6 million from $1.5 million. The NFL is suing the 38-year-old Brit, whose real name is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, for extending her middle finger during a performance of "Give Me All Your Luvin'" at halftime of the 2012 Super Bowl.
The NFL's initial $1.5 million lawsuit was made public in September, and since then the league has apparently determined that that sum is not nearly enough. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the league is now seeking $15.1 million more in "restitution" money for the two minutes that M.I.A. appeared onstage with Madonna. That figure is based on what the league could have made from advertisements during that time.
M.I.A.'s response papers argue that league's new claim "lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic." They also detail a history of "profane, bawdy, lascivious, demeaning and/or unacceptable behavior by its players, team owners, coaching and management personnel and by performers chosen and endorsed by NFL to perform in its halftime shows." This includes Michael Jackson grabbing his genitalia at the 1993 halftime show and Prince's simulated masturbation in 2007.
The singer's papers include the argument that NBC is partly at fault because the network should have activated a "5 second delay" for the halftime performance.
Below is a video of the gesture in question from the 2012 halftime show, which was viewed by 167 million TV households.