Bob Lurtsema: Lipstick on a Pig

Dec 2, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: We received this first-hand report from retired player, Bob Lurtsema, who was one of the “uninvited players” who showed up last week along with Bob Stein and many of the Plaintiffs in the NFL Films lawsuit Status Conference. Each and every retired player needs to read Bob’s words of caution closely and send in their comments.
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Fellow retired players -
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I attended the court-ordered Status Conference in the Dryer v. NFL case on November 27 in Minneapolis to see what was up. What I saw was an attempted sell-out and ambush by the NFL and Michael Hausfeld to force Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs to accept the NFL’s offer. The NFL and Hausfeld tried to pit players against players.
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Hausfeld brought along 10 or so non-Plaintiff retired players to support him. They were part of a secret group he organized to try to control the Dryer lawsuit payments. We discovered that one guy they brought in had never even been an NFL player! He paid for their travel but refused to pay for the original Plaintiffs’ travel as required by his retainer agreements with them.
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The original Plaintiffs who started the case were not even allowed in Hausfeld’s player meeting. When all the plaintiff attorneys met with all the players there, I was surprised the Magistrate openly pushed for the NFL deal (a very low offer of $50 million total), cut off Bob Stein who pointed out major shortcomings to the deal and then let Hausfeld ramble on to try and sell it. Right after that meeting, Hausfeld rushed out to confer with the NFL lawyers.
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The NFL-Hausfeld proposal, opposed by all original Plaintiffs (Fred Dryer, Jim Marshall, Joe Senser, Dan Pastorini, Elvin Bethea, Ed White) and Bob Stein, stunk to me. Under the NFL-Hausfeld proposal, NO player would be paid for using his rights …ever! Each retired player would give up all his NFL-related publicity rights forever and any money would only go to the neediest of player charity programs. The only ones getting paid are the lawyers!
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The proposal didn’t even have a guaranteed payment amount since all costs of opt-out player lawsuits against the NFL will be paid out of the settlement money! A very small group of players (Hausfeld’s?) would also be put in control of where the money goes. All of us would have to release our publicity rights (pictures, film of play, autographs) forever – and except for possible charity payments – will get paid nothing in the future. The Licensing Agency it set up looks just like the NFL Alumni Program – which LOST $5 million. So I don’t see what we’re getting for giving up claims to what Stein described as “the multi-billion dollar NFL Films vault” and over $150 million/year the NFL makes from using us in NFL Films.
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The NFL-Hausfeld proposal will pay $42 million (after $8 million in legal fees are paid) over 12 years, with all of it going only to charity programs. That amounts to under $15/month for each of the 20,000+ players whose rights would also be signed away. Of course, the lawyers would get paid $8 million up front immediately. Looks to me like each of us will gain absolutely nothing from the NFL-Hausfeld settlement and only the NFL and the lawyers win. No wonder Bob Stein and all the original Plaintiffs think it’s an inadequate deal. After all, over those 12 years when the NFL would be paying out about $3.5 million a year, they would make over $1.8 billion using us in NFL Films! After that, they would then pay nothing more and use our rights forever!
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Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs all want a deal where every player who gives up his rights forever knows in advance what he would personally get for it, either in dollars or health care benefits …and that it should be enough to mean something.
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I didn’t know why other players besides the Plaintiffs were there but it seemed they were trying to set up the illusion of a “support vote” from guys who were not even Plaintiffs, all without opening the meeting to ALL retired players, just to pressure the original Plaintiffs to go along. Other retired players did not even know about this Status Conference and I only heard about it at the last minute. Hausfeld’s guys were mostly for the deal but ALL the original Plaintiffs and Stein opposed it. I still don’t see the point of the Status Conference but I do see the NFL-Hausfeld deal as bogus and completely one-sided.
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I am against accepting it and wanted all of you to know why. But it should be your own call to make.
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Bob Lurtsema
Baltimore Colts, New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks
1967 – 1977
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7 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. George Visger
    December 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    George Visger Brain Scans

    I challenged De Smith, the NFLPA’s “tough guy attorney” for a response to my comment last week and have yet to hear a peep. I also told Hausfeld to remove my name from his complaint after parading me around at the Press Club for his big media production only to realize that my name wasn’t even listed on the suit. And all this after he basically copied Jason Luckasevic’s original lawsuit.

    I have literally been fighting legal battles with the NFL for nearly 30 years since the 49′ers stuck me with the hospital bills for my 2nd and 3rd brain surgeries back in 1982. But during these last 30 blissful years of post-NFL life, I have never lost a fight with any of their overpaid, boisterous (I won’t even say male organ lacking), legal experts. And I’m supposedly brain-damaged.

    And Hausfeld’s history now speaks for itself.

    De Smith’s disappearing act for Jimmie Giles speaks volumes.

    Give us a team of truly dedicated, passionate individuals on a mission to do what’s right, and we’ll force the $9.5 Billion NFL conglomerate to pay their bills.

    THAT is why I back the Jason Luckasevics, Bob Steins, Chris Asvars, the players’ blogs, and all the former players who have the courage to speak out. We all have a lot to lose by airing our dirty laundry on these blogs as we do.

    But to steal a quote from Hausfeld (and he should understand stealing), “Its the right thing to do.”

    FYI: Robert Lee is now putting the finishing touches on my new site/blog, GeorgeVisger.com. The website is up and we want it to be a clearing house of information for all Traumatic Brain Injury survivors and family members. When complete, it will be a wealth of information to all current and former players dealing with cognitive impairments from their playing days.

    George Visger
    Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused brain surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits
    GeorgeVisger.com

  2. Barbara Sandusky
    December 4th, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Mike Sandusky

    The NFL-Hausfeld proposal is, in my opinion, a smokescreen. The NFL owes former players millions of dollars. They don’t believe they can out-and-out refuse to pay and get away with it so they’re using charity money as a distraction. Who even knows where that money will end up?

    Isn’t anyone questioning the fact that the former players are the ones who are owed?

    Mike & Barb Sandusky
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1957 – 1965

  3. Gerry Feehery
    December 5th, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Gerry Feehery

    The NFL is a huge business. Lawyers are leeches who suck out of the League what they can get for themselves with no concern for former players.

    Gerry Feehery
    Philadelphia Eagles & Kansas City Chiefs
    1983 – 1988

  4. Jeanne Brown for Barry Brown
    December 6th, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    Barry Brown

    I am speaking on behalf of my husband, Barry Brown, who is now too impaired by CTE (“concussion dementia”) to even understand what the lawsuit against the NFL is about. One memory I have is about an incident that happened when Barry was with the Boston Patriots. Following a severe concussion, he had double vision for about a month to six weeks. The team sent him for contact lenses …but he was never removed from practice or games.

    Last week at Johns Hopkins, a doctor told me that my husband was someone else now and will never again be that person I knew and loved for all these many years.

    Jeanne Brown for Barry Brown
    Baltimore Colts, New York Giants
    Boston Patriots
    1966 – 1970

  5. Tom Beer
    December 6th, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    Tom Beer

    George Visger’s never-ending, uphill battle against the NFL regarding just compensation for his head injuries sustained 30-plus years ago must be commended. His recent comment questioning De Smith’s failure to answer his questions, however, should be responded to with a grain of salt.

    George, Mr. Smith earned his spurs as an inside-the-D.C.-Beltway litigator before heading the NFLPA. Knowing the sorry state of politics in our nation’s capitol today, you should be anticipating a tap dance in lieu of truthful answers!

    Tom Beer
    Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
    1967 – 1973

  6. Burt Grossman
    December 6th, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Burt Grossman Cover

    No money at all for the players… That’s about par for the course! How many retired players are actually signed up for this class action?

    I don’t ever remember seeing a number or list like, say, the GLA lawsuit against the NFLPA and Electronic Arts.

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  7. Tony Davis
    December 6th, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Tony Davis

    Settlement talks are a major part of Class Action Suits and if need be, settlements. Most Class Actions are settled before they ever reach a jury. Please, please everyone understand how this procedure works. The defense can bring a settlement offer to the plaintiffs at any time. Counsel and Class Reps look over the settlement offer and if they feel it is fair, BRING IT TO THE CLASS, for an up-or-down vote. The presumption that a group can do a behind-the-scenes deal is false. Even after the Class agrees to a deal, the Judge has to approve it before it is settled. Lawyers are hired and held to a very tough ethical standard. A lot of people oversee this process. First, I read the that Jimmy Giles won his case (which really meant that the court will hear it again). I want every NFL Retired Players to get three things: Lifetime Healthcare, Good Pensions and all the compensation due them from the use of their images…

    Tony Davis
    Cincinnati Bengals & Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1976 – 1982