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Hall of Fame says suggestion of fraud is “totally baseless”

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18: Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director David Baker speaks during a half time presentation at the NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on October 18, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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The lawyer representing the customers suing the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the cancellation of this year’s Hall of Fame Game believes that fraud occurred, with the powers-that-be specifically withholding information about the scuttling of the Colts-Packers game in order to keep fans on the premises of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for as long as possible, spending money on food and drinks and programs and souvenirs. The Hall of Fame disputes this contention.

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame regrets this year’s preseason game could not be played,” Hall of Fame V.P. of communications Pete Fierle said via email. “The focus was on the safety of players. The Hall of Fame promptly accepted responsibility and has offered to fairly compensate fans for their inconvenience. The implication that the Hall somehow defrauded fans in any way is totally baseless. Finally, I was with David Baker when he addressed both teams and can categorically deny the statement in your blog today that he used any profanity in addressing the teams or the situation.”

The last line refers to comments from Colts punter Pat McAfee, who characterized Baker’s message as, “This is gonna be a big f—-king problem.”

Still, the rest of McAfee’s message fits with the theory that information about the cancellation was kept from fans. Attorney Michael Avenatti has asked Hall of Fame president David Baker and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to keep their phones as part of an effort to preserve all electronic communications -- including text messages that could prove, or disprove, the claim of fraud.

Avenatti will appear on Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio to discuss the situation. An invitation has been extended to Baker to do the same.