We’re coming up fast on one of the most important dates in our careers as former football players. On August 30th, our right to Opt Out of the NFL Films Settlement Offer expires. We posted a countdown clock in the upper right sidebar of my blog just to remind all our readers that it’s looming. If you do not Opt Out, the NFL may well end up completely owning the rights to your name, your image and playing footage forever. Even though actors and musicians get paid for their work on the radio or on TV and sold as CDs or DVDs, the NFL is trying to re-write the rules by saying retired football players are the only people who can’t be paid for their vital role in a product that continues to make a lot of money every day..Even worse, the court has just announced that the hearing which was supposed to take place in September has now been pushed forward until October 14th. But the deadline for Opting Out and Objecting won’t be extended past the August 30 deadline..
“In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
– George Orwell
. At the request of pre-1993 former NFL players, I have decided to write an opinion regarding certain matters pertaining to the settlement offer proposed in the pending lawsuit dealing with NFL Films. Based on the information provided through Dave Pear’s Blog, I have drafted the following opinion. . There has been a recent Settlement offer by the NFL in litigation regarding NFL Films. The terms of the offer are supposed to satisfy a class of retired players who have exerted their right to take legal action on the issue of the infringement of their names, likenesses and images. The six original named plaintiffs have rejected the settlement offer. The class of plaintiffs they represented, however, has yet to decide whether the terms of the agreement are understandable and justifiable and whether there are any hidden, unacceptable implications lurking in the language of the agreement. .continue reading »
Well, it’s been over a week since we were last threatened by Dan Gustafson’s office. And the paperwork citing your options has now gone out to all those retired players that can be located. At least that’s what one would hope. At this stage – considering everything we’ve seen from those who continue to promote the NFL Films Settlement Offer as the best thing retired players can possibly expect from the NFL – we now stand more committed than ever to openly declaring our opposition to this Settlement. And we stand against it for even more reasons than before. The actions and words of those who would want to silence any who would even express any opposition or opinions speaks volumes. And while they would question the statements of those who oppose their position, these same basic questions remain unanswered by Gustafson, Hausfeld or Zimmerman: .
Can you name one retired player who will actually be receiving a direct payment as a result of this “historic” agreement? And how much he can expect to receive?
Will each retired player be giving up his identity rights forever to the NFL under this Settlement? And what – if anything – is the NFL actually giving up or paying for your rights?
How is this new licensing agency going to be any different – and better – from what the NFL Alumni was supposed to do under George Martin when they actually had access to the NFL shield and logo AND $5 million to run a licensing agency?
So here we go again. We received a 6-page letter from Dan Gustafson of Gustafson Gluek PLLC with an additional 33-page attachment from the long-winded proposed Settlement Offer in the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit. Rather than attaching the selected portions that came with the letter, you can read the original 21-page Preliminary Court Approval -clickHERE – and you can look up pages 82 – 93 of the Settlement Offer on an earlier post – clickHERE. . We’ve uploaded a copy of the letter from Gustafson 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):
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. . 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 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. . 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 »
The original lawsuit against NFL Films was filed with Fred Dryer as the original lead plaintiff with Elvin Bethea, Jim Marshall, Joe Senser, Dan Pastorini and Ed White joining him early in the process. Bob Stein and Tom Ward were the original attorneys working with Fred Dryer. Naturally, Bob Stein and Tom Ward are excluded from any attorney fees (as are the original six plaintiffs) by the NFL group that includes Hausfeld LLP, Zimmerman & Reed and Gustafson Gluek, all for having the gall to ask for what the NFL really owes ALL NFL players: Money. . In this third part of our discussion. Fred makes a strong and passionate argument against the current Settlement Offer as presented and endorsed by the NFL and a separate group of retired players as recruited by Hausfeld and Zimmerman and the NFL. Questions were allowed during the discussion and you will hear the overwhelming objections from the audience to the NFL’s “final” Offer. And the Original Six Plaintiffs were all present or represented at our Conference (Jim Marshall’s wife managed to attend on his behalf and you can see her asking one of the questions from the audience). And as we pointed out earlier, it’s interesting that the so-called solid majority of other players and attorneys on the side of the NFL Settlement Offer could not muster one single lawyer or even one other player aside from Ron Mix to stand up for their wonderful deal. . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
Attorney Michael Ciresi (Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi) is one of the attorneys representing the Original Six Plaintiffs in the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit. Ciresi was the attorney who made the case against the Settlement Offer in Minnesota Federal Court while Dan Gustafson made the arguments for the Settlement Offer on behalf of a new group of added plaintiffs. In this second of three segments from our Dryer vs NFL Films discussion, you will hear Mike Ciresi give his legal arguments to retired players in the audience on why this is a one-sided offer made in bad faith.(You can read all Panelist biographies by clickingHERE.) . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
As we were planning our Conference over the last few weeks leading up to this past weekend, we had many discussions on the best way to present both sides of the Settlement Offer to the retired football player community so each one of you can make an informed decision. We finally decided to invite each attorney who made the final presentations in Federal Court to Judge Magnuson in Minnesota: attorney Dan Gustafson from the firm Gustafson Gluek PLLC accepted on behalf of the players whose names were listed in the Settlement Offer (you can review a copy of that offer by clicking HERE) and attorney Michael Ciresi of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi accepted on behalf of the original six plaintiffs. Of the six original plaintiffs, five of them managed to show up for the Conference. Ron Mix graciously accepted to present his reasons for accepting the offer while Fred Dryer – the original named plaintiff in Dryer vs NFL Films – joined Mike Ciresi to present their opposing position. . Unfortunately, by late Friday, we received confirmation that attorney Dan Gustafson would not be attending because of a family matter and no replacement would be sent to replace him, leaving Ron Mix to make the case for accepting the Settlement as well as answering questions from the audience. This Settlement Offer has been promoted as the best deal retired players can expect from the NFL while also declaring that only a very tiny but vocal minority of retirees were opposed to it. Quite frankly, we were surprised that those parties with their overwhelming majority didn’t manage to find one single replacement for attorney Gustafson to present their claim of a done deal. Ron Mix managed to maintain a dignified and professional approach in explaining many of the still-unanswered details of this 160+ page Settlement Offer while plaintiffs’ attorney Mike Ciresi and Fred Dryer each made their presentations of opposing what they believed to be a very one-sided and typically worthless Offer which included punitive expenses to be taken out of the Offer to fight those who would oppose it. While many in the audience vented their anger and frustration with the Offer towards Ron Mix personally, we truly believe that Ron sincerely felt that this was the best deal possible from a pragmatic point of view and as such, we need to respect Ron for being there to present his opinions in a very dignified manner. Our reasoning is that even with all their resources, no one else was sent to back Ron up was perhaps a way to damage Ron’s standing with retired players as a strong advocate for Workers Compensation rights, specifically in the State of California. Ron has successfully fought for Workers Comp benefits over many years for hundreds of professional athletes and now continues to personally carry on the battle to oppose California Bill AB 1309 which will eliminate Workers Comp claims for professional athletes in California. The League certainly benefits by eliminating these claims and damaging Ron’s standing in the retiree community would certainly be a side benefit of leaving him to defend their Settlement Offer on his own this past weekend. .continue reading »
With last-minute itinerary changes and arrivals, we’ve been juggling our Conference schedule to accommodate everything. And we’ve also made some minor additions to our schedule as well in order to cover some very recent events that we believe most of the retired player community will want to hear about. . Here’s a list of our Panelists with biographies: . Dr. Bennet Omalu . Dr. Omalu received his MB, BS [M.D.] degree from the University of Nigeria in 1991. He received his MPH [Masters in Public Health] degree in Epidemiology from University of Pittsburgh in 2004. He also received his MBA [Masters in Business Administration] degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. Dr. Omalu holds four board certifications in Anatomic Pathology, Clinical Pathology, Forensic Pathology and Neuropathology. Dr. Omalu is also board certified in Medical Management and is a Certified Physician Executive [CPE]. .continue reading »
Wow! A lot has happened in the past week as we’ve been preparing for our upcoming Conference! We’re edging closer to the vote on AB 1309 in California which will disqualify most professional athletes from Workers Compensation claims in the state.(ClickHEREto read the actual bill that’s coming up for a vote as early as next week.) . More news is coming out about Riddell’s prior knowledge about helmet safety and real their lack of protection from concussions.(ClickHEREto read the latest piece from PBS Frontline.) . And the behind-the-scenes story is also now emerging about the fight for Junior Seau’s brain after he committed suicide.(ClickHEREto read that article also on PBS Frontline.) . Then we have the NFL Alumni pushing a wide press release about a new miracle drug that will not only be an antidepressant but also possibly heal your brain with new stem cells. Only problem is that this drug is from a relatively new company that’s only beginning early-stage trials that only require a few participants and not the thousands that the Alumni (NFL) seems to be wanting to enlist for some strange reason. Retired players will need all the information they can get if they’re to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate in this – or any drug trial – as we continue to move forward with the concussion lawsuits. . And the NFL Films lawsuit will now be moving into the notification stage to all players involved in the class. We’ll be having representatives from both sides of the Settlement Offer to present their arguments on Saturday so you can make an informed decision. . We’ll be covering each of these new topics with experts from their fields at our IFV Conference. Watch for live posts and videos during the two days of discussions. And if you can make it down to Las Vegas, we can promise this will be the most informative two days that retired football players won’t want to miss. . Watch this Blog for more details. .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend, Spencer Kopf, called in and was miffed to read an e-mail from Jeff Nixon that described the NFLPA’s great historical contributions to advancing the livelihood of its players. The story was just that: A story. The real history and events during the negotiations of the 1982 strike were well-documented and supported by many of the players who were actually there when it all went down. Here’s Spencer’s letter: . Dear Jeff, . I have been asked by the undersigned former players to address your most recent communication to the NFL Alumni. In your March 2, 2013 post, you wrote: .
“In 1982, our NFL Players Association demanded, among other things, that its members receive 55% of the league’s gross revenues. The owners told us to take a hike. So we did, and we didn’t return until seven regular-season games had been lost. The owners were forced to return $50 million to the networks. Although we were not successful in getting 55% of League revenues, we did accomplish some things that are still having a lasting impact on current players.” . If by “we” you mean the NFLPA itself, you could not be wider off the mark. The players of the past certainly deserve credit for accomplishments that have benefited players of the present. However, by juxtaposing “our NFL Players Association” with “we” you have created (perhaps unintentionally) a false sense of equivalence. If the history of the NFLPA has anything to teach us, it’s that the NFLPA has never acted as if it and its past constituents were one and the same. .continue reading »
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: .
Apparently, Hausfeld LLP has formally filed to withdraw from representing SOME of the lead plaintiffs in a class but he still wants to stay directly involved by representing the other plaintiffs (can you actually do that?!!). Then the presiding judge issued a Scheduling Order that appoints Dan Gustafson of Gustafson Gluek PLLC as Lead Settlement Counsel to represent the “class” without a further hearing or discussion. So if there is a class of retired football players being acknowledged, then why is there a gag order? Does this mean that your case can be settled without your approval? . We’ve just uploaded a copy of a new Notice of Withdrawal filed on Wednesday by Hausfeld LLP along with the Judge’s latest order 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): . Hausfeld Notice of Withdrawal . USDC Minnesota Dec 12 2012 Scheduling Order – Dryer vs NFL .
So it all started last week with a letter we received from Bob Lurtsema that basically outlined his understanding of what had happened in a Settlement Conference on the NFL Films lawsuit that included: Several retired football players (and a few guys who weren’t), a whole lot of lawyers from the NFL and Hausfeld LLP, along with the original Plaintiff Attorneys Bob Stein, Tom Ward and several of the original Plaintiffs who hadn’t even been invited or flown in to the meeting by some of the attorneys.Thanks to the First Amendment that guarantees our right to Freedom of Speech, you can still read that original letter from Bob Lurtsema by clickingHERE. . We were happy to post Bob’s views online as we have generally done in the past with communications from so many other retired players; especially since it was an update that a lot of our readers have been trying to follow since the NFL Films lawsuit began last year. Well, 24 hours after we posted Bob’s overview, it seems that certain attorneys including the NFL’s lawyers decided they didn’t think the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) applied to our Blog. First, Dave received an e-mail from Hausfeld LLP with a copy of a gag order and a “DRAFT” copy of a letter warning all parties to the suit, signed by Michael Hausfeld and Charles Zimmerman from September. (Has anyone actually received a real copy of this letter or was it simply nothing more than a ‘DRAFT‘ that was circulated to intimidate or stop outsiders from talking about the case? Nothing – NOTHING – in the gag order even infers that the media or blogs are prohibited from gathering information on this case and publishing it.) Would some of you please read the very short gag order and tell us if you see anything specifically banning the media or outside parties from writing about any of this, as Hausfeld’s ‘DRAFT‘ warning seems to infer? PLEASE NOTE: Dave Pear is currently NOT a named Plaintiff in the NFL Films lawsuit and has NOT been invited to attend any of the discussions. .continue reading »