Herb, Bernie & Walter vs. Players Inc. So Far…

Aug 1, 2008

A lot of people are still barely aware of the lawsuit filed against the NFLPA and its subsidiary, Players Inc. Players Inc. has been the licensing arm of the NFLPA, allegedly set up to “represent” NFL players, past, present and future (Gee – does that sound familiar?) in the licensing of their images and the promotion of their respective teams. Any of you fans who have bought NFL merchandise – from jerseys and gear all the way down to your basic bubble gum cards – will already know that it’s all big business. You can’t produce anything with a team’s logo or a player’s likeness without the absolute consent of Players Inc. – along with a healthy licensing royalty – unless you want to see the inside of a courtroom under intense fire from their corporate attorneys!

The New York Times’ Alan Schwarz covered the initial filing in February, 2007 (read the entire article by clicking HERE). Here’s a little detail on the scale of their licensing revenues:

Bernie Parrish cardHerb Adderley NY Times

“According to a news release from Players Inc. last month, the organization, formed in 1994, handles $750 million in retail licensing business on behalf of all 1,800 current players as well as 3,500 retired players, generating more than $100 million in annual revenue. While no specifics were offered, it is common industry knowledge that the vast majority of the revenue derives from the use of the names and likenesses of active players.

The start of the trial is finally set for September 22, 2008 in San Francisco and several other players have also been called to testify in this first step towardstransparency in the actions of the NFLPA and Players Inc. The suit is led by Bernie Parrish, Herb Adderley and Walter Roberts, with a cast that will also include testimony from Gene Upshaw and Commissioner Roger Goodell. The old “But I was out of the country” excuse will not work in this trial like it did for Congress. So it should prove to be an interesting case that gets a lot of media coverage. For those of you who are interested, we found a legal documents site (Justia) that has most of the filings available for reading (click HERE to access the case files). (CAVEAT: There are lots of Motions and counter filings, probably close to a hundred – you’ll need a long evening to get through it all!)

And here’s Jeff Nixon’s open letter to the members at large (posted on Fourth and Goal), urging all players to send along their words of encouragement to Bernie, Herb and Walter:

Jeff Nixon

Dear Alumni:

The trial date for the Class Action lawsuit filed by Herb Adderley, Bernie Parrish and Walter Roberts against the NFLPA and Players, Inc. is set for September 22, 2008. It will begin at 9:00 am in the Federal Courthouse on Golden Gate Avenue, San Fransisco, CA. There are currently 2,100 former players who signed a group licensing agreement with the NFLPA that are a party to this lawsuit.

It took a lot of courage and sacrifice for these 3 men to stand up to the Union and hold them accountable… and all retired players owe them a debt of gratitude.

Right now, and especially during the trial, we need to support these guys in every way possible. If you can attend any of the court sessions it would be very helpful to the cause. The trial will last for about two weeks. You can bet your bottom dollar that the TV Networks will be all over this story and therefore it is important to have some of our alumni present both inside and outside the Courthouse. If you are a former player and live in the vicinity of San Francisco, do your best to get there. California has the largest number of retired players in the Nation.

Whether we win or lose, the fact that the books will be opened and the “discovery” part of the lawsuit will become public knowledge will be a real eye-opener for many people. This action also lets the “powers that be” know that they can no longer operate in a vacuum of secrecy and silence.

In closing, I think we should also thank the lawfirm of Manett, Phelps & Phillips for taking on this case. This was an uphill battle from the start, but they have performed magnificently just getting this to trial. You never know how much you really like lawyers …until you need one.

As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.” – Clarence Darrow.

On behalf of the 2,100 – and all retired professional football players – Thank you Herb, Bernie and Walter for your objections and your rebellion!

Jeff Nixon
Buffalo Bills Alumnus
Board Member – Fourth & Goal

P.S. Please send Herb, Bernie and Walter a message to let them know you stand with them.

Herb: HerbAdderley26@aol.com
Bernie: bpp12@yahoo.com
Walter: walt272002@yahoo.com

7 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Ange Coniglio
    August 2nd, 2008 at 7:31 am #

    Ange Coniglio
    In addition to their obvious biases against retired players, I feel a good case could be made against mismanagement and failed opportunities by Players Inc.

    Believe it or not, there are millions of fans who fondly remember the true glory days of Professional Football, and who would LOVE to buy a T-shirt with the image of Bernie Parrish, Herb Adderley, or such ignored greats like Abner Haynes, Tom Sestak, Paul Lowe, Charlie Hennigan, Lionel Taylor and other stars of the 1960s who built the game. I think Players Inc. would be amazed at the response, if they produced and intensely MARKETED such shirts and other “throwback”-type items at reasonable prices. Just like our heroes, many of us long-time fans are getting old too, and nostalgia never goes out of style.

    Ange Coniglio

  2. Roy Jefferson
    August 2nd, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    Roy Jefferson Steelers card
    I sent my check in to Bernie as soon as he formed this group because I wanted answers and accountability. With this trial, we won’t hear, “I represent the active players and the retired players have nothing to say that I want to hear; if anything, they should be happy to have what we have graciously given to them.”

    Walt Roberts was my hero and quarterback in high school and I would follow him wherever he leads. “The Flea” was mean — you should have seen those 133 lbs. operate at an All-American level in football, basketball, track (set Interscholastic broad jump record at 23′-9″ and also baseball in high school.

    Roy Lee Jefferson, Jr.
    Steelers ’65-69
    Colts ’70
    Redskins ’71-’76

  3. robert
    August 2nd, 2008 at 11:10 am #

    Ange –

    Thanks for your comments. You’re right – it’s called memorabilia! And older guys like us love the stuff. But unfortunately, the way everything has been run up to this point, none of the veteran players would ever see a penny of that either.

    And somehow, I also sense that the few current players that are getting big royalty checks are also having mysterious unaccounted deductions taken from their payouts as well. It seems we’ve simply uncovered yet another source of income for Upshaw and Co. that’s been buried away for years. Perhaps instead of focusing on finding all the corrupt practices, maybe we should be focusing more on finding the few – if any – good things that they actually do for the retired players. It might be easier work.

    Some days, I imagine that the NFLPA and Players Inc. must think that paper shredders were invented for them…


  4. john hogan
    August 3rd, 2008 at 5:58 am #

    “And those who lead many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3)

    John V. Hogan disability attorney
    I can’t add much more to Jeff Nixon’s excellent comments, other than to say that actually getting a class action law suit to trial is an incredible accomplishment. It gives me great hope that justice will indeed prevail.

    John Hogan

  5. mike stratton
    August 3rd, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Mike Stratton

    This is just my salute to the letter from Jeff Nixon. Whether you support the NFLPA, the NFL Alumni, Fourth and Goal or any other organization seeking to represent or benefit retired players, you have to agree that full disclosure is a right and good thing.


  6. Walt Roberts
    August 4th, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    Walt Roberts
    Hey Roy Jefferson (City of Compton) –

    Thanks for those kind words! Roy, you and Marvin Fleming were and still are my heroes… (high school long jump record 24′-7 3/4″ — had to get that one in!) Thanks to all of the Retired Players who have supported us..

    Walt Roberts
    Cleveland Browns NFL champs 64 (65 & 66)
    New Orleans Saints 1967
    Washington Redskins l969 & 1970

  7. Sharon/Wayne Hawkins
    August 5th, 2008 at 7:56 pm #

    Wayne Hawkins
    I speak for my husband, Wayne, Oakland Raiders, ’60-’71, who was diagnosed with dementia in ’05 due to TBI, (Traumatic Brain Injuries), sustained from playing professional football for 10 years.

    Wayne’s pension is $200 a month, after serving over 10 years in the AFL.

    How is this happening? Who decided this little amount for him after so many successful years serving the Raiders and the fans? Who lives on that amount of money after serving the professional football league? And with a tiny Social Security payment, how does anyone survive on that? No quality of life for one who has been a contributor to the community. Our Congress is VERY aware of the inequities and support is on its way.

    Our prayers are always with all our players who are enduring this challange.

    Love to all,
    Sharon Hawkins on behalf of Wayne