EDITOR’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 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. . 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: . PRESENT LAWSUIT STATUS . 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. .continue reading »
. Thus spoke Nolan Harrison III in another one of his “Former Players Newsletters” about meetings and conferences earlier this week in Sacramento about a newly proposed State Bill A.B. 1309. In case you hadn’t heard, Bill 1309“would exempt minor and major league professional athletes from filing workers comp claims in California if their team is based outside of the state, according to the California Legislature website. Currently, California’s “cumulative trauma” provision in its workers comp law allows players to make a claim in California if they have played at least one game in the state.” . “The legislation would apply to professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer players who play temporarily in California.” . This summary was from BusinessInsurance.com. . We’re wondering what planet Nolan Harrison III was writing from. A contingent of retired players was definitely present on Monday, including Conrad Dobler, Ron Mix, Mel Owens and George Visger among others. In fact, here’s a direct report from George that we received that evening: . Mel Owens contacted me when a bunch of the players met for dinner the night before. Dobler, Mix, Ickey Woods and several others were in attendance. The next morning, 25 – 30 of us met at the attorney/lobbyists, broke into 5 groups and each team met face-to-face with several Senators, Congress folks and various other legislators at the Capitol. . Then we had a sitdown lunch with all. I sat with Senator Perez who was shocked to hear what was going on. De came striding into the room like a politician. Fake handshakes and “Hi, De Smith” as he went around the room. Shook my hand and his face dropped when I squeezed his and said ‘George Visger!’ Then he started babbling about how I’m doing, etc. Conrad and I caught him in the hall a bit later and ripped him til he slithered away. . All in all, it was a GREAT meeting with all. . George . And disability attorney John Hogan had a few words to add: .
April 24, 2013 . An Open Response to Nolan Harrison’s Letter to Stop California Workers Comp Reform . Nolan, . I can’t remember when I have read a more hypocritical or disingenuous piece about retired NFL players. . In your open letter to retired players, you attempted to castigate retired players for not showing up in Sacramento, California to lobby against the Bill pending in that state which might stop or limit retired players from being able to file a worker’s comp claim there. First, as a full time employee of the NFLPA, I assume that your expenses were paid by the PA to travel from the east coast to the west. I know you are a big guy and I have a difficult time imagining you squeezing into a coach airplane seat for a cross-country trek. Are you so out of touch with the real world of pre-’93 retired players that you do not realize few can afford to make that trip? Apart from the unaffordable cost, many of these men are in too much pain to spend the better part of a day in an airplane (or two) even if they had a first class seat. . Second, while I’m delighted that so many guys have been able to obtain benefits through the unique California Workman’s Comp loophole which allows them to file decades after they retired from the NFL, surely you must appreciate the significant administrative costs being borne by the State of California in the adjudication of these claims. (i.e. – It isn’t just the teams and their insurance carriers bearing the costs of adjudicating these claims.) As far as I know, California, like many other states (and unlike the NFL) is in financial crisis. . As you know, the CBA requires that all teams must provide workers’ compensation benefits; and in states where WC claims are barred for professional athletes, they must effectively be self-insured to handle these claims. Unlike many of us “bloggers” and “so-called former player organization leaders” – and despite our best efforts, including major litigation in the Eller case, we do not have a seat at the table in bargaining for retired players’ rights and benefits. In that regard, we are at the whims and mercy of the PA. That being the case, why aren’t you, DeMaurice Smith, Cornelius Bennett, et al lobbying for every state which is home to a professional sports franchise to have a liberal worker’s comp benefit like California’s? . Worker’s Compensation is a creature of state law and each state has various criteria. In general, a worker must file an injury claim while still employed, or very shortly thereafter. Again, I am delighted that many of my friends have been able to obtain money and medical benefits from California, but why should retired football players be treated differently (under state law) than a guy who digs ditches? Or someone who works in a steel mill? Anyone who performs arduous physical labor which takes a toll on their body as they get older? No state should treat retired NFL players differently than other workers who toil in their state and suffer injury. But the NFL should – and it should be up to the PA to make sure that they do! . As you know and as I have learned, the manifestation of injuries suffered during an NFL career – including the sequelae of concussions – often takes place many years after playing days are over. The worker’s compensation systems of the various states are not geared to handle such latent injuries and untimely claims. The disability benefits offered under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan (also a creature of the CBA) contemplate the fact that injuries – or at least total disability – can take up to 15 years after retirement to manifest. That being the case, what has the PA done to advocate a better disability system which would include more generous and longer line of duty benefits? (That is, for guys who have impairment for injury but might still be working; and/or not totally disabled.) . Your letter mentions that one of the most important aspects of workers’ comp benefits is lifetime medical benefits. That is true; and they are invaluable. However, the benefits are only for the particular injured body part, not for unrelated or general medical issues. . If the PA really wanted to show leadership, they would convince today’s players that having lifetime medical benefits is much more valuable in the long run than having a present day multimillion dollar contract. (Oh, you would have to convince Agents like Tom Condon that they would get less money for actually having the best interest of their clients at heart – good luck with that!) If the PA was really concerned about retired players well-being, they would be fighting incessantly for lifetime medical benefits for retired players. They paid their dues. They made the game what it is today. The money is there. . Retired players shouldn’t have to count on a unique loophole in California’s laws to get the benefits they deserve. You should know that. . While I do not handle worker’s compensation claims and am not a member of the California Bar, it would seem to be unconstitutional to extinguish claims which have already been filed – should this bill pass. . Sincerely, John V. Hogan Disability Attorney Retired NFL Player Advocate Member of Fourth and Goal Proud contributor to Dave Pear’s Blog Sponsor, Buffalo Bills Alumni Association . . . . . And yes – we’ll be covering this topic in detail at our upcoming IFV Conference in Las Vegas May 3 – 5. We’ll also be covering equally important areas of interest to retired football players including the concussion lawsuits and both sides will be presenting their opposing points of view in the NFL Films lawsuit. Not engaged? Maybe Nolan Harrison III might want to spend less of HIS time and YOUR money on golf tournaments and actually start listening to retired players (after he stops talking about himself, of course!). .
With all the chest-thumping going on out there, many of you may not know that my attorney, Jason Luckasevic, from Goldberg Persky & White was not only the first attorney to file a concussion lawsuit on behalf of retired NFL football players after several years of research and lobbying with his senior partners (all you need to do is check the dates on the suits that have been filed) but his litigation also included helmet manufacturer Riddell from the outset. Over the years, we’ve written about Riddell’s ongoing paid sponsorship to the NFL as “The Official Helmet of the NFL.” While their sponsorship was worth millions in revenue to the League, the illusion of helmet safety helped Riddell to dominate the helmet market in amateur sports from Pee Wee through high school and on to college football. You’ll also recall that Riddell has been in a court battle with their insurance carriers who have been quickly jumping ship in an effort to avoid the ensuing megamillion dollar settlements sure to follow a successful round of liability lawsuits. Wonder who’s going to have to pay this one?(Click HERE to read that earlier post.) . We have news from last week of an $11.5 million award out of Colorado in a suit initiated by the family of a young man brain damaged and partially paralyzed in a high school football game. Riddell was held responsible for $3.1 million of that award. . . April 14, 2013, 11:08 PM
Colo. court finds Riddell negligent in helmet suit
EDITOR’S NOTE April 16, 2013: As many of you may have noticed, the original audio we posted was cut short to around 49 minutes. We’ve just added the second portion of 23 minutes and now have the entire 1 hour-13 minute hearing in one file below. . For those of you who couldn’t make your way into a VERY crowded courtroom, we have an audio transcript of most of the arguments presented to US District Court Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia PA last Tuesday, April 9, 2013. Presenting on behalf of the Players/Plaintiffs is attorney David Frederick and presenting for the NFL is attorney Paul Clement. (Just click the PLAY arrow to start the 49-minute recording. You can also download a copy of the MP3 file for listening later simply by right-clicking ‘Download‘ under the player and saving a copy to your computer.) . It will be weeks – if not months – before Judge Brody makes a ruling on whether the lawsuits can proceed to the next stage or be dismissed. But based on what both sides presented in this key hearing and some of the judge’s remarks and questions, we think the players’ attorney hit it out of the park! . You can also read an overview of the hearing from Associated Press by clickingHERE. . Our 2013 IFV Conference Concussion Lawsuit Panel will bring everyone up to date on the latest developments in the suit and will be answering any questions our audience will have for them! You don’t want to miss it! Make your reservations today so you can get the best airfare and room rates before the discounts expire this Tuesday - click HERE! .
THIS JUST IN: An Order Granting Preliminary Approval in the Dryer vs NFL Films suit has just been filed in the District Court of Minnesota. Note the new, l-o-n-g list of Plaintiffs in this filing. We now know that the original Plaintiffs were never consulted nor informed of discussions or negotiations. And worse still, many of the newly-listed Plaintiffs had also never even granted permission to have their names added to the Plaintiff’s list on this Preliminary Settlement! And THAT’S the difference between honest lawyers fighting for their clients in an open courtroom and dishonest lawyers looking to make a quick buck at the expense of their clients in backroom dealings. If you DON’T want to have this happen to your concussion lawsuit, you may want to consider changing law firms NOW! . Now that the gag order has finally been lifted, this will definitely be an open discussion at our upcoming 2013 IFV Conference in Las Vegas May 3 – 5. Be sure to book your flights and hotel rooms now – Click HERE! .
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the press announcement as released on behalf of the original plaintiffs in the Dryer vs NFL (Films) lawsuit following last Friday’s hearing in Federal Court in Fort Myers FL. Please note that the NFL’s press release last week was intentionally misleading in their implication that the Settlement was already concluded and accepted. This litigation is far from over as some would have you believe. Certain attorneys had already been counting their upfront $8 million bribe – er, payout – from the NFL. We have been informed by a lot of retired players that they’ve already fired the firm(s) who were (mis)representing them in the NFL (Films) lawsuit. And for those of you who have also not already switched to a more ethical firm to represent your best interests in your concussion lawsuit, you may wish to consider changing firms so they don’t throw you under the bus for ten pieces of silver there as well. . And now that the gag order is being officially lifted from the hearings, we will be opening a full dialog on this case and what it really means for all retired players as a group and not to any individual player in particular. This is going to be one of the important panel discussion topics at our upcoming Third Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference in Las Vegas May 3 – 5.Click HERE to read more and to sign up. .
“Original Dryer Plaintiffs” Oppose Proposed NFL Settlement in Retired Players’ Right of Publicity Lawsuit
Here we go again. Another great take-it-or-leave-it settlement offer from the NFL. Let’s see now. The League has been selling all kinds of film footage of the players for years at incredible profit margins while never paying the retired players anything for the rights. Now that they’ve been busted, they want to settle the deal by offering a token amount that’s only going into funds that will cover things like long-term insurance which should have been provided to the older players as part of their retirement package in the first place. No money for retirees but lots for the owners. And then they want to make the cost of appeal and opting out of the class fall on the shoulders of all retired players. And the hearing is set for arguments later this week after they just filed the Settlement proposal. Is that how you readers also see this 164-page deal? No one gets to read the deal until it gets put in front of the court for arguments and acceptance? Still looks like lipstick on a pig. And, of course, the lawyers get paid up front… . We uploaded copies court documents (and the NFL’s press release) from Monday’s Dryer vs NFL/NFL Films filings to Scribd for easy viewing on our Blog and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close): . We’ll start with the press release: .
. Our Third Annual Independent Football Vets Conference is set for May 3 – 5 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas! When you book your Conference weekend, please follow these steps: .
Book your room using the South Point Reservation link (clickHERE) or by calling them Toll Free at (866) 791-7626 and use Group Discount Code INDO0502;
Book your flight as soon as possible to get the best advance ticket rates;
Then sign in with that information on our Registration Page(clickHERE) so we can have your admission badges ready when you arrive (all retired players and families, panelists and invited media are welcome but you will need an admission badge to be admitted to all events).
After a few e-mail exchanges, Larry Lamade at Akin Gump graciously provided me with a bound copy of the latest Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan that was released in April 2012. . He also sent me a cover letter with attachments that outline a proposed amendment and a new Neuro-Cognitive Disability Benefit that are in the process of being added to the Plan. We’ll be adding comments and observations shortly. If any of our readers find some interesting points, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below. . We uploaded copies of the proposed changes and a full copy of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close): .
Like most of you, I received an e-mail this morning from Dana at the NFL’s Player Care Foundation announcing their Super Bowl Health Screening Event scheduled for New Orleans at the end of this month just before the big game. We’re attaching a copy of the e-mail and announcement below (just click on the image to enlarge in another window for easier reading). And my response follows: . . Dear Dana, . Will the Player Care Foundation provide transportation and other related travel expenses for retired players? The vast majority of retired players – especially pre-1993 players – are not in any position to pay for the expense of going to your free health screening during Super Bowl. Do you have any idea how much airplane tickets, hotel and food will cost during Super Bowl? . In light of the recent findings in Junior Seau’s brain disease(click here:Junior Seau had brain disease CTE)has the Player Care Foundation ever considered a Neuropsychological evaluation by a licensed Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D.? This test along with a memory assessment evaluation would be very meaningful. I have had both of these tests and they were very revealing for my condition of repeated blows to the head. . As a pre-1993 player, we never made big money(click here:My 1975 Contract with The Colts)and I personally have spent over $600,000 of my own money (my family’s money) on injuries I received from playing football in the NFL). So attending this screening is unrealistic for me personally. . Please feel free to respond. . Best, Dave Pear . .
Here’s something a little lighter to start the week. . I was going through more of my old files and ran across my original signing contract with the Baltimore Colts back in 1975. My first NFL contract was for 3 years: 1975 for $30,000; 1976 for $40,000; 1977 for $50,000. They also included a $30,000 signing bonus (!) over 3 years ($20,000 upon signing in 1975 and an additional $5,000 in 1976 and in 1977). I was subsequently traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then Hugh Culverhouse traded me off to the Oakland Raiders in 1979 after I had the nerve to ask for a raise! I played for two years with a broken neck with the Raiders when we won Super Bowl XV as the wild card team against the Eagles (Raiders 27 – Eagles 10). I was released by Al Davis after that year (more like kicked to the curb!). And yes – that’s a Riddell Helmet I’m wearing in my Topps card! . Since then, my family has gone through over $600,000 of our own money for my ongoing football-related medical expenses and surgeries with absolutely no reimbursement from the NFL and its various plans (other than the equivalent of two seat cushions and a $5.00 co-pay they sent me after my first hip surgery as part of their fantastic hip replacement program- clickHEREto read about it.) . We uploaded a copy of my first NFL contract to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close): . Dave Pear 1975 Baltimore Colts Contract .
Another inside look at how the NFLPA functions at its core particularly when it comes to retired players: Bruce Laird spent many years alongside Sam Havrilak as officers of the local chapter for the NFLPA in Baltimore. And during many of those years, Bruce and his fellow alumni also ran Fourth and Goal, a nonprofit and advocacy group for retired players which managed to provide assistance to those players in need. Now that George Martin’s NFL Alumni has been marginalized, it seems that the NFLPA only recently noticed that Bruce and Sam have been running Fourth and Goal while also working within their Baltimore chapter! Hard to tell if the PA is trying to clean house now that the Alumni is gone or if they only just realized that Bruce and Sam have been voicing their opinions for years about the real plight of retired players. Perhaps Gene Upshaw stopped by to remind them… .continue reading »
This breaking story was just too good not to post and follow. As many of us already know, the NFL and its owners have taken advantage of any and every opportunity to rake in the money. Whether it’s by not paying people (from denying retired players their earned benefits to all of their Super Bowl half-time acts to perform for free) or just good old-fashioned tax evasion, they continue to exploit every single loophole to make sure not one dollar goes to anyone else. So it was no shock to see this detailed article on the recent disclosure that the NFL is… A CHARITY! An official nonprofit charity actually written into Federal Law that makes them completely exempt from Federal taxes! Are we even surprised? .continue reading »
. The concussion tsunami is building as more retired players continue to add to the wave of lawsuits even as more and more coverage is given to the issue in the mainstream media. All this as football season is in full swing. Over the last five years that we’ve been posting news on this blog, most of the media would drop everything and football would be front and center on all coverage. But it seems this year, there’s been so much negative press on the NFL that it’s hard to miss all the news coming out almost daily on concussions and brain injuries. And instead of putting any attention to the concussion issues of retired players, the League is more focused on Bountygate and $30 million donations to the NIH to keep studying the effects of brain injuries. So here are a few more recent articles including a very informative piece on some of the lingering myths about concussions that everyone should read. . Is it just us or are we getting close to a tipping point? .
We were truly honored to have been invited to the first private screening of Sean Pamphilon’s United States of Football this past Tuesday. The movie was well-attended with family and friends, media and many of the people who were included in this film. We would ruin the full movie experience by telling you too much about it. But we think it will certainly go a long way to further the conversation on concussions and brain injuries in our society. The cast of characters in this movie is huge: From current to retired players, along with spouses, widows and children, as well as many of the people who are all part of this growing story. We think it will make a lot of people think and hopefully take this discussion to new places. .