Latest on Retired Players Benefits & Pensions Lawsuit

Jul 11, 2011

Over the weekend, the retired players and the attorneys involved with the Eller et al vs. NFL et al class action lawsuit released a letter addressed to all retirees to outline a call for unity as well as to provide an update on the facts and actions to date.
Dear fellow retired players,
We have been asked by many of our fellow retired National Football League (“NFL”) players to provide more information about what the Eller v. NFL lawsuit is meant to accomplish and how the lawsuit will help benefit all retired NFL players. What follows is our attempt to do so.
On March 28, 2011 the national law firms of Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP and Hausfeld, LLP, filed a class action on behalf of all retired NFL players against the NFL in federal court in the District of Minnesota to bring about wholesale improvements of the NFL player retirement system.
This lawsuit came after the CBA negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA broke down, the Union decertified and the League subsequently locked the players out. The complaint seeks to do for retired players what the Reggie White class action lawsuit did for current players in the early 1990’s: create an organization and system whereby retired NFL players are able to advocate on their own behalf and therefore vastly improve the current landscape of the NFL retirement system. This class action – known as Eller et al., v. NFL – was consolidated with the class action on behalf of current players called Brady, et al vs. NFL. (Consolidated simply means that the cases are heard together and the NFL is better positioned to try and resolve both cases simultaneously – although the retired players are asking for and addressing different issues than the current players.)
Recently, the largest collective group of representatives of various organizations for retired players or who have mass online audience met in Minneapolis. The group included representatives and/or members from the NFLPA, NFL Alumni, the Retired Players Association, Fourth & Goal, Gridiron Greats, Dignity after Football and Football Veterans. Most of the participants agreed to present the League with united proposals for changes in key areas affecting the well-being of retired players:

  • (a)    pensions;
  • (b)   disability benefits;
  • (c)    medical benefits;
  • (d)   medical monitoring; and
  • (e)    vesting calculations.

On July 4, 2011, we filed a Motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint to include additional claims against the NFL and the Brady class and to also add additional plaintiffs. The plaintiffs who filed were Carl Eller, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Paul Krause, Lem Barney, Joe DeLamielleure, Elvin Bethea, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, and Ryan Collins (a group consisting of Hall of Famers, famous players, forgotten players, vested players, and non-vested players) joined forces and sought leave to file an amended complaint against not only against the NFL, but also the former NFLPA and the current Brady plaintiffs demanding that they be included in all future discussions involving them.
The reason this lawsuit is important to you is because for the first time YOU have the ability to not only determine what your benefits should be but you will also have the unique opportunity to run your own retirement organization. This independent organization will have the right to negotiate, advocate and control the retirement benefits that you earned while you were NFL players. Through this lawsuit, YOU finally have the ability to independently and collectively have your voices heard and your concerns adequately addressed. This is your time. However, this effort can only be successful if you unify as retired players and let the League hear your voice – that you want your own organization of retirees, run by retirees, for retirees.
A timeline describing the events leading up to the current status of the suit is attached below.


Carl Eller
Irv Cross
Dave Pear
Robert Lee (publisher
Brent Boyd
Tony Davis
Shannon Jordan (on behalf of Gridiron Greats)
For more information please contact:
Michael Hausfeld, Hausfeld, LLP

Shawn Stuckey, Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP

Carl Eller, President of Retired Players Association

Irv Cross

Dave Pear, Founder of

Robert Lee, Publisher of

Tony Davis, Fourth and Goal

Shannon Jordan, President of Gridiron Greats

Brent Boyd,

Greg Koch,

Here’s a slideshow uploaded on Slideshare that outlines the timeline of facts and events starting from the original lockout by the NFL,  the decertification of the Union, the former NFLPA, and the subsequent class action lawsuit filed on behalf of retired players to regain control over their earned disability and pension benefits. (You can enlarge the slideshow to Full Screen for easier viewing by clicking the Enlarge button in the lower right corner of the viewing window. Hit ESC to close the window.)


6 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    July 11th, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Dave at Home

    A US Department of Labor audit of the NFL & NFLPA and their books (especially towards pre-1993 players) would expose their continued breach of fiduciary of duty towards retired players.

    When will this happen?

    Things like this would put an end to false PR Stunts by the former Union AND the League.

    Dave & Heidi Pear

  2. Timeline of Eller Lawsuit and NFL Lockout Developments « Author Irvin Muchnick
    July 11th, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    […] Retired players’ activist Dave Pear’s blog has an informative timeline of the Carl Eller lawsuit and efforts to get a seat at the table in the National Football League lockout talks: […]

  3. Walter Beach III
    July 11th, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Walter Beach

    What Independent Organization will I have representing me???

    Walter Beach III
    Boston Patriots & Cleveland Browns
    1960 – 1966

  4. Fair Hooker
    July 12th, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Fair Hooker

    Thanks for the clarification on the position on all the separate groups fighting for the retired players. Has there been a lot of discussion with regard to the players who took early retirement reverting back to the original pay? If the increase is only 60% of the current monthly payment then nothing has been accomplished as far as I am concerned.

    Looking forward for more information and updates as the process continues.

    Fair Hooker
    Cleveland Browns
    1970 – 1974

  5. Bobby Walden
    July 13th, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Bobby Walden

    We can barely make ends meet on the token pension we receive. We have been married 46 years and have not made bad business decisions and do not pay for several gone bad divorces. We were never privileged to make the millions like players of today but played the same – or harder – game as they today.

    Please vote for a pension raise that will make a difference for all of us. Remember everybody has to retire eventually.

    Thanks to all of you who are fighting for us.

    Bobby Walden – punter
    Pittsburgh Steelers 10 yrs
    Minnesota Vikings 4 yrs
    1964 – 1977

  6. Cindie Stewart
    July 21st, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Cindie Stewart

    It is wonderful that things seem to be moving in a positive direction. The attorneys handling this don’t give in until you are willing to settle with something you could live on personally. By the way, the current players would not have what they have if it weren’t for the retired players who did not lay down and let the owners keep doing to them what they would love to do to you but can’t nowadays because of the efforts of these guys. I get that you deserve the money you get and not saying give your money to the retired guys but care about what is happening to them and stand up for what is right. Most of you guys work hard at helping others and most of these retired guys were your heroes at one time. Doing what is right is the right thing to do. Don’t think I won’t be sad if there were no Monday night football. I totally would but would like to see our Pro Players be heroes to our youth because they are standup guys and not because you have gold around your neck and make so much money you don’t know what to do with it. We have plenty of people like that they can follow for that kind of stuff but good men are hard to find to follow.

    Don’t say you didn’t get into this to be a hero; I know that but when you put yourself in front of millions of people who all have 2 eyes watching – that’s a lot of eyes – and 2 ears which is a lot of listening as well. One might want to be know more for the good they brought into the world than the bad at the end of the day.

    Again Just Saying…
    Cindie Stewart