NFL Films: We’re STILL Mad as Hell!

May 17, 2013

ADDITIONAL NOTE – ADDED MAY 29, 2013: We received a letter from attorney Dan Gustafson late yesterday and have made some editorial changes as marked in our post below along with important questions that continue to go unanswered. Read the new post with the letter from Gustafson Gluek by clicking HERE.
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Mad As HellEDITOR’S NOTE: At our recent Conference, we covered the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit and subsequent Settlement Offer from the NFL. Our first day had attorney Yakub Hazzard explaining some of the basics of your individual rights (click HERE for that video). Then on Saturday, we had Ron Mix putting up the case in favor of the proposed Settlement (click HERE) followed by attorney Michael Ciresi with a legal opinion against the deal (click HERE) and Fred Dryer as a retired player and original plaintiff on why he and his original team of plaintiffs are against the Settlement (click HERE). Insomuch as there was a gag order placed on all parties directly involved during the hearings in Minnesota Federal Court, we did our best to report on as much of the proceedings and behind-the-scenes maneuvering as possible.
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We need to remind everyone once again that when the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit was first filed in 2009, its original – and primary – goal was to provide fair payment to retired players for the NFL’s past, present and future use of their publicity rights, particularly in NFL Films productions. Here’s a simple outline based on what was discussed at the IFV Conference this year:
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PRESENT LAWSUIT STATUS
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On April 5, 2013 the Court issued an Order for Preliminary Approval of the proposed Settlement as advocated by the NFL and some new Plaintiffs and their attorneys. Immediately, the NFL PR machine promoted it publicly as a done deal. Far from it. The actual Order directs that a Notice of the proposal be sent in May to the entire class – that’s you and all past NFL players – for consideration. If the proposed Settlement receives Final Approval from the Court in September, each NFL player who does not opt out will be legally bound by its terms. But now the real battle begins.
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WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
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You will actually have until August 30, 2013 to:

  1. Support the Settlement and be bound by it by doing nothing, or
  2. Object to it in writing to try and persuade the Court to deny a Final Approval, or
  3. “Opt out” and exclude yourself from the Settlement.

FYI: Each of the six original Plaintiffs who began the lawsuit (Fred Dryer, Elvin Bethea, Jim Marshall, Dan Pastorini, Joe Senser and Ed White) – along with attorney (and retired player) Bob Stein and attorney Tom Ward on their behalf – ALL oppose the proposed Agreement and did not participate in prior to the final Settlement negotiations of the proposed settlement agreement that bears their names.
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You can read a copy of the proposed Settlement Offer in an earlier post – click HERE.
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MAIN ISSUES IN THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
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WHAT YOU GET: Nothing. Absolutely nothing goes directly to each player individually (except for the possibility of applying for more pseudo benefits as offered in the past by the NFL). THE REAL QUESTION BACK AT THE LAWYERS: This is a primary issue and you chose not to question or elaborate on this. Is it true or not?
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WHAT YOU LOSE: Everything. You will not only lose your football-related publicity rights at the end of this 8-year Agreement but you will also be signing away your autographs, your names, your photos, etc. A lot. You – and potentially your family and estate – will lose your publicity rights related to NFL Films if you accept the Settlement Offer. Oh – and you’ll LOVE this one: The NFL can also use up to $13.5 million of this money that’s NOT coming to you to fight the players who Opt Out against this deal. It’s like telling a cancer victim in a town poisoned by toxic water that some of the money in your settlement agreement is going to skimmed off to fight other poisoned victims who have the gall to fight us. Seriously! It’s in their great Settlement Agreement.
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WHAT WILL THE NFL HAVE TO PAY? Not much. They would pay between $36.5 to $50 million over the 8 years of the Agreement into a “Common Good Fund” (CGF) for distribution to as-yet-unnamed charities. THE REAL QUESTION BACK AT THE LAWYERS: Why were there not even simple valuations done on the NFL’s projected revenues based on historical data that is already established from past sales (for which retired players have already NOT been paid)? And isn’t the Commissioner’s paycheck around $35 MILLION A YEAR?
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WHAT DO HOW MUCH COULD THE LAWYERS SELLING THIS DEAL GET? Up to $7.5 million within 10 days after final settlement will be paid to the lawyers – along with “service awards” also going to those new plaintiffs they brought on board to list their names on this Settlement Offer – who put this deal together with the NFL.
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HOW MUCH IS REALLY AT STAKE? Billions. Hundreds of millions? Or maybe billions? No one knows because there has been no attempt to estimate the value the NFL has realized and will continue to realize for past and continued use of your images in NFL game footage. THE REAL QUESTION BACK AT THE LAWYERS: If you believe this number is inaccurate, then what number did you believe to be an accurate estimate of the value of retired players publicity rights? If you did not have such a number, how did you determine 50 million to be a “fair” settlement? And how much do you believe is really at stake? The NFL – with the cooperation of the lawyers who want this deal to go through – has managed to avoid the normal stage of discovery during any negotiations so no one can see just what their real gross revenues will be over the next 8 years of this Settlement Agreement. And nowhere in this Agreement are past revenues and damages even addressed. Remember when the NFLPA “bragged” after signing the current CBA that they had negotiated 45% of gross current revenues for active players? Well, think about this: With little expense involved from ongoing distribution of existing videos of all the past games (nearly pure profit with NO stadium costs, no broadcast costs, etc.), even a 45%/55% deal would be more lucrative than the current CBA offers the NFLPA and current players. But the NFL basically wants to keep it ALL! Think about that for a moment.
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Worse still, there are factions now putting out extreme misinformation declaring that a “tiny minority of retired players through their blogs” are the only ones objecting to the Settlement Offer. And they’re putting out more misleading “facts” in a last-ditch effort to confuse retirees. Want to know what a REAL majority looks like? When you watch our three IFV Conference videos that covered the Dryer vs NFL Films Settlement Offer – aside from Ron Mix at the podium (who was left on his own to defend this “great deal” by this overwhelming majority FOR the deal) – you’ll see how one player after another came up to the microphone to ask questions or voice their objections to this Offer. Not one single player in the entire room spoke up FOR this deal after all the facts were presented during the Conference. But of course, we expect the League and certain lawyers to now come forth and declare that the entire group opposing this Agreement were ALL in that Conference Hall and certainly can’t represent their great majority! You’ll also see in the videos that a lot of players stood up and vocally stated they wanted to opt out of the Agreement on the spot.
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This is now a rallying point for the entire retired football player community: It’s time to tell the whole world that retired football players are sick and tired of being ignored and getting less than nothing for making this game what it is today. Kind of reminds you of Peter Finch’s speech in the movie, Network, doesn’t it?
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So what can you do? Learn all the facts for yourself. Listen to experts who can explain what your rights really mean to you (and your family). And then decide to object and opt out of this deal or go along with it. We want everyone to know that Retired Players are Mad as Hell and You’re Not Going to Take It Any More! As one of the players said when told he’d probably be getting nothing personally, “Hey – if I’m not getting anything anyway, then what have I got to lose? So I’m all in for going all the way in this fight!”
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Are you angry enough now that you can’t wait for all that paperwork to arrive? (BTW – As happened earlier in the $22 million NFLPA/Players Inc. Settlement, if they don’t have a current address to locate you, you’ll also be out of luck!) When you finally receive your paperwork in the next few weeks, the Opt-Out process will require you to send in numerous documents to recipients among the many steps in this Settlement Offer. Or you can assign your Opt-Out to a reputable representative to manage the process on your behalf. (And wives and widows also need to opt out as well if you do NOT want to lose your spouse’s rights. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe’s estate continues to receive royalties every time they use her image – over 50 years later?) Just click on the Mad as Hell button below to sign up and Opt Out.
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OPT OUT LINK

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FINAL NOTE: We’re not attorneys nor are we advocating for any law firm. This is an editorial commentary allowing us to express our opinions as protected under our Constitutional First Amendment Right of Free Speech.
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3 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Xavier Figueroa
    May 17th, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Xavier Figueroa

    As an attendee at the 2013 IFV, I was shocked to learn about the mistreatment and arbitrary labor rules that are applied to these great athletes. This NFL Films lawsuit is a microcosm of a much larger problem that the NFL, the NFLAA and the NFLPA have created by abusing their greatest asset… the players! It was heartbreaking and heartening to hear from the players, their adjustment to life after active playing and the struggles of living with the chronic injuries brought on by pro football. Mad As Hell is right… no more taking the crumbs from the masters table!! Especially after you harvested the food, set the table, cooked the meal and cleaned the dishes!!

    Xavier Figueroa

  2. Council Rudolph jr
    May 18th, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Council Rudolph

    Delay. Deny. And Hope We Die …soon.

    Council Rudolph
    Houston Oilers, St. Louis Cardinals
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1972 – 1977

  3. Cody C. Jones
    May 21st, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    Cody Jones - Rams

    I hate to say it but this is one helluva a mess. How in world can any judge look at the circumstances of this lawsuit and give this settlement any consideration? Money placed in a charity fund? Give us break!

    This is a slap in the face – a plain ‘Screw You’ to your face.

    Cody C. Jones
    Los Angeles Rams
    1974 – 1982