In June 2009, St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora decided to take a supplement called "Ultimate Sports Spray." He must have felt pretty safe taking it, since it was made by a company called Anti-Steroid Program and distributed by its subsidiary S.W.A.T.S, which stands for Sports With Alternatives To Steroids.
But soon after, he tested positive for steroid use. Specifically, a banned substance called methyltestosterone. Per NFL policy Vobora was suspended four games, his name forever tarnished.
It couldn't have come from the product of a company called Anti-Steroid Program, a.k.a. Sports With Alternatives To Steroids, though, right?
Wrong. Later that summer, Vobora sent the bottle of "Ultimate Sports Spray" to the Aegis Science Corporation in Nashville. The spray, the scientists determined, contained methyltestosterone. So last May, he sued Anti-Steroid Program for intentionally misrepresenting the supplement.
After initially attempting to defend itself, the company went radio silent, failing to mount a defense to Vobora's motion for default judgment. So in April, U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Sippel declared the limited liability company in default and ruled for Vobora. And on Friday, Judge Sippel awarded Vobora $5.4 Million.
Why so much? For one thing, there's the whole bit about the company failing to defend itself. For another, according to Judge Sippel's order, Anti-Steroid Program is liable not just for the money Vobora lost during his four-game suspicion, but also all the future earnings he may never see due to "lost marketing opportunities."
You see, David Vobora is no ordinary NFL player. He was 2008's Mr. Irrelevant, a mythic title given to the last player selected in each year's draft. In fact, he isn't even an ordinary Mr. Irrelevant. He became the first Mr. Irrelevant since 1994 to earn a starting spot, which according to the judgment, gave him "unique opportunities to earn an income from non-NFL sources to promote and market products and events for economic gain."
Good for him. After all, the man was clearly misled by the company.
Although, to play devil's advocate for a moment here, how surprising is it really that a company called Anti-Steroid Program ends up selling steroids? Isn't naming your supplement company Anti-Steroid Program like naming your grocery store "Anti-E. Coli Program" or naming your cell phone brand "Anti-Cancer Program" or naming your newspaper "Anti-Plagiarism Program?" It's the corporate equivalent of running up to a cop and shouting, "No, I don't have any weed in my pocket!"
Now that this lawsuit business is behind them, Vobora and the Rams can finally focus on more important things. Like not playing football.
h/t to Courthouse News Service