||WILLIAM J. HELLER, ESQ.
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, New York Football Giants
In his role as General Counsel for the Giants, Mr. Heller is responsible for all legal affairs of the team and its affiliates, including those that relate to the operation of MetLife Stadium. From licensing and sponsor and marketing arrangements to labor and employment issues, his practice as in-house counsel for one of the original and storied NFL franchises spans all areas of Sports Law.
In his role as General Counsel, Mr. Heller led the Giants’ negotiation and successful completion of the license, sponsorship and naming rights deal that designated the team’s new, state-of-the-art training center as the “Timex Performance Center,” and later served on the negotiating team for the long-term licensing and naming rights deal that designated the former New Meadowlands Stadium as “MetLife Stadium”. Recently, Mr. Heller led a legal team in the successful conclusion of a green energy initiative for MetLife Stadium, under which a leading energy company will install a solar ring atop MetLife Stadium to generate electricity for the facility. Coaches and Player contracts are also a part of his practice at the Giants, where Mr. Heller also helps to lead human resource, worker’s compensation and privacy issues. Mr. Heller also handles and supervises the team’s litigation matters, including one of the largest claims in the Lehman bankruptcy and the team’s challenge of local property tax issues. Mr. Heller also works closely with lawyers from the National Football League; for example, he was one of the team’s contact points with the NFL during the 2011 labor negotiations and lockout and in that role helped supervise the team’s actions and responses to the developing labor situation.
Prior to his tenure with the Giants, Mr. Heller’s career in private practice spanned over thirty years. As a trial lawyer focusing primarily on complex employment discrimination, commercial, technology and intellectual property cases, his notable cases include patent infringement cases in pharmaceutical (Hatch Waxman Act), software, electronics and other sciences; trade secrets cases for leading nationwide defense contractors (one involving classified electronics technology); representation of a leading telecommunications company in its anti-spam and anti-pretexting initiatives; software copyright infringement; successful vindication of the copyright of a leading china manufacturer whose protected work appeared in an Oscar-winning motion picture without permission; and protection of brand names in trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, anti-cybersquatting cases and UDRP actions to recover domain names using registered trademarks.
Mr. Heller’s experience also includes substantial transactional and counseling engagements. For several clients he was instrumental in the negotiation of and licensing of all forms of intellectual property, including high technology and life sciences agreements, and he regularly advised clients in corporate-wide IP protection programs.
Identity theft and data privacy are hot issues for any business. Several major US corporations consulted with Mr. Heller to remedy data and privacy breaches, and to implement procedures to reduce the risk of further breach and the protection of personally identifiable information. Related to this practice is significant experience working with hospitals and other healthcare institutions seeking to computerize their operations through software licensing and new computer system acquisitions, and by negotiating those deals.
Prior to serving as General Counsel for the Giants, Mr. Heller served as the outside “General Counsel” for several substantial closely held corporations, and in that role earned the position of the trusted advisor to the business, a role that prepared him for his current job responsibilities for the Giants.
In addition to his legal experience, Mr. Heller served in several high-level management positions for his prior law firms, including board level direction of the business of the law firm.
||HYMIE ELHAI, ESQ.
Vice President & General Counsel, New York Jets
Hymie Elhai is entering his 12th season with the New York Jets and second as Vice President & General Counsel. Prior to being elevated to this position he served as Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs after serving as Associate Counsel and Director of Legal Affairs. Elhai was hired full time in 2002 as the manager of legal affairs and business development after beginning his career at the Jets as an intern in the summer of 2000.
Elhai is responsible for sponsorship, licensing, event, new media, production and broadcasting agreements, while also ensuring team compliance with NFL regulations and policies related to corporate sponsorship, licensing and advising on relevant corporate legal issues. He recently added human resources and community relations to his areas of responsibility. Elhai was also involved in the strategic planning and legal affairs for MetLife Stadium and the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
A graduate of Rutgers University School of Law-Newark and The Johns Hopkins University, where he played football and baseball. Elhai resides in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Vice President & General Counsel, Legends, Inc.
John Ruzich is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Legends.
Legends is owned by the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and the Checketts Partners Investment Fund. This partnership was formed in 2008 and joins some of the most heralded and established sports, entertainment, media and financial brands and executives in their industries. Legends was born and inspired by its iconic heritage and strives to be as impactful and successful in its business endeavors as its ownership stakeholders are in theirs.
Prior to joining Legends, John served as the Senior Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs/General Counsel for Classic Media, LLC, one of the world's largest independent entertainment companies (before it was purchased by DreamWorks Animation, SKG in August of 2012).
Classic Media owns and manages a globally-recognized portfolio of well-known family and pop-culture entertainment brands, including Where's Waldo?, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Lassie, and The Lone Ranger. More than 3,600 hours of Classic Media programming is distributed in more than 170 territories worldwide and showcased in multiple formats, including TV, film, home video, consumer products, publishing, digital, and music.
Prior to his employment at Classic Media in 2004, Mr. Ruzich worked as Associate Counsel for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company, which is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year in more than 145 countries and 30 languages and reaches more than 500 million homes worldwide.
Before joining WWE, Ruzich began his legal career as Staff Attorney for the New Jersey Devils.
||WILLIAM DENI, ESQ.
Associate and Sports Agent, Gibbons P.C.
After graduating from Colgate University and Seton Hall Law School, Bill began his legal career clerking for Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey. He joined Gibbons P.C. in 2004 and founded the firm’s Sports Law practice in 2007. That same year he became certified as a contract advisor by the NFL Players Association and qualified by FIFA to represent both domestic and international soccer players.
He is one of only two attorneys in the country to be voted a SuperLawyer Rising Star in Entertainment & Sports Law for five consecutive years and was recently recognized by AmLaw Daily, published by The American Lawyer, as one of the NFL agents of the AmLaw200.
As a professional sports agent, Bill represents athletes in contract negotiations with professional clubs and in sponsorship endorsements. In addition to representing NFL players throughout the United States, including two currently on the New York Football Giants, Bill represents a two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer who is a member of the United States Women’s National Team.
He counseled clients in preparation for the 2011 NFL lockout and continued advising them during the fourth-months that NFL players were not permitted to be present at NFL team facilities or interact with team personnel.