Last night, PBS aired their full two-hour documentary League of Denial on Frontline and the accompanying book from Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. . Thanks to PBS, you can now watch the entire movie in Full Screen mode by clicking on the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner when you move your cursor over the video as it starts to play. .
. So the end of September has come and gone. No sign of any details on that incredible once-in-a-lifetime $765 million proposed settlement offer to retired players for concussion damages that was supposed to have been available by the end of September. More retired players have died in the meantime. But no worries: Maybe they’re waiting to watch the documentary and read the book. Next week on October 8th, PBS will air their entire two-hour documentary League of Denial on Frontline and the accompanying book from Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru will also be available online at Amazon: League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth
. As with most lawsuits where there’s lots of money involved, a lot of coattail riding has gone on with the NFL concussion lawsuits and some have questioned why we’ve been so adamant in recommending Jason Luckasevic and his firm Goldberg Persky White (and his partners Girardi Keese and Russomanno & Borrello) to represent you. Jason was the original attorney who spent years of personal time in researching and pulling together all the details and partners necessary to finally file a solid lawsuit on behalf of his first clients. And if anyone tells you otherwise, you’ll be able to read four chapters in the Fainaru Brothers’ book dedicated to the behind-the-scenes stories leading up to the filing of those first lawsuits. . . . You can also read the full accompanying article on ESPN – clickHERE. .
. The courts in the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit could not have done a better job of making a bad situation worse by enabling the NFL and its crew of lawyers to muddy up the waters even more by allowing them more bites at a rotten apple while completely trampling the rights of the class. Here are two letters that were officially filed with the Minneapolis Court from retired players Ken Clarke (1978 – 1991 Vikings, Seahawks, Eagles) and Bill Bain (1975 – 1986 Packers, Broncos, Rams) rescinding their Opt Out Opt Out forms that caused intentional confusion for many others as well. What part of I Opted Out does anyone NOT understand? Wonder how many guys the NFL and its lawyers actually managed to con? . We’ve uploaded copies of Bill and Ken’s NFL Films Opt Out Opt Out Retraction Letters to Scribd to make them available for your reading pleasure and for easy downloading and printing in case you decide to change your mind. 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). .
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of the more insightful pieces on the proposed settlement offer from NFL to the retired players’ concussion lawsuits. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick Hruby. .
. Don’t Settle .
. Eleanor Perfetto watched her husband shrivel, and she watched him die.Near the end, Ralph Wenzel was a husk: a once strapping and energetic 225-pound former National Football League lineman, down to 145 pounds, eating mashed-up doughnuts, unable to walk or bathe himself, his mind unraveled by dementia. He was posthumously diagnosed with both Alzheimers and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the latter neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head; a scientist who examined his 69-year-old brain said it had shrunk to the approximate size of an infant’s. Wenzel’s dissolution was slow. Horrific. So Perfetto understands. Understands the pain. Understands the relief over theproposed $765 million settlement of the NFL concussion lawsuits, the eagerness to assist the former players in the most dire need — and their families, too — while calling off a long, draining legal fight. . Still, Perfetto can’t help but feel torn. Torn that the league is just walking away, cash left on the nightstand. Admitting nothing. . “This is a positive step, good for the players and families that need help now,” says Perfetto, a senior director at Pfizer and one of the over 4,600 former players and their family members who have sued the NFL. “But I’m very disappointed that the league gets to continue to deny the relationship between head injury and the illnesses that we see. They’re not taking on any culpability. And we will never know the timeline of just how long they have known this and the extent of them blocking it as much as they could. That will be kept secret unless some whistleblower comes forward in the future.” . When it comes to mixed feelings, Perfetto is hardly alone. Former All-Pro defensive back Bruce Laird worries that the settlement won’t be large enough to cover the brain trauma-related medical needs of all current and future players.Retired linebacker Scott Fujita believes that full NFL disclosure– what, exactly, did the league’s executives anddenialistdoctors know, andwhen did they first know it?– is a public health matter. Retired lineman Kevin Mawae likens the pending deal to “taking it 99 yards, but not getting that last yard”and taking “a little bit of our milk money back” from a schoolyard bully while getting a “promise that he won’t touch us again.” On the other hand, all three former players — Laird is a plaintiff in the lawsuits; Mawae and Fujita are not — are pleased that peers like former NFL fullback and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis sufferer Kevin Turner will receive concrete financial assistance sooner rather than later. For that matter, so is Turner:in a recent USA Today editorial, he wrote that many of us also feared that a resolution would take years. That this agreement happened so quickly lifts an enormous burden off of our shoulders. We will get the care and security we need now, without being forced to wait for years of litigation to work its course. Indeed, NFL executives, plaintiff’s lawyers and mediator Layn Phillips all have framed the pending settlement as a choice between competing goals: plaintiffs can push for more money and evidence of league wrongdoing via a bruising court battle that could last years, or they can help men like Turner as quickly as possible. They cannot do both. . Or can they? . To borrow Mawae’s metaphor, the concussion plaintiffs don’t have to take a knee at the goal line. Nor do they have to abandon their brothers in need. They can help men such as Turner and continue to fight. They don’t need to take a crummy deal. They can demand something better. They should demand something better. They have more potential resources — more potential leverage — than commonly believed. . Now is not the time to settle. .
* * * . Start with the money. Suppose retired players had as much as $493.7 million available to them over the next eight years, earmarked for medical care and financial assistance. Would that change the settlement equation? Guess what: this money isn’t hypothetical. It’s real. Available now. Available since last year. A pot of cash hiding in plain sight, roughly equivalent to the $495 million NFL is scheduled to dole out over the first eight years of the proposed deal. . Pull up theleague’s current collective bargaining agreement.Go to page 78. Look for Section 5: Joint Contribution Amount. You’ll find an annual fiscal carve-out from the players’ share of football revenues, starting at $55 million in 2012 and increasing at compounded rate of five percent annually through 2020. Who controls this money? Where is it going? That’s where things get interesting. And frankly, a bit curious. According to the CBA:.
$22 million “shall be dedicated to healthcare or other benefits, funds, or programs for retired players as determined by the NFLPA”;
$11 million “shall be dedicated to medical research, as agreed to by the parties”;
$22 million “shall be dedicated to charities as determined by the NFL, including NFL Charities and/or Youth Football or successor organizations.”
A new copy of Hausfeld’s “The Voice” went out yesterday with a copy of Judge Magnuson’s order from the week before. We posted that order in an earlier post- clickHEREto read the Judge’s full order from Sept. 6th.And once again as expected, more misinformation. Their latest newsletter tries to take Jason Luckasevic, Jason Shipp, Bob Stein and Hagens Berman to task by only stating that Judge Magnuson had ordered those parties to “dismiss their lawsuits” (until this phase is resolved). Full Translation: While the judge was not pleased with the timing of the suits, the Culp vs NFL Films and Tatum vs NFL Films lawsuits will be voluntarily dismissed by their respective attorneys “Without Prejudice.” In other words, those suits are only withdrawn temporarily and can be re-filed again at a future date. They are NOT being thrown out permanently by the courts. .continue reading »
In any game, you know you have everyone’s attention when your opponents always have to resort to cheating and stacking the deck. If there ever was a great example of “Desperate people do desperate things,” you’ve been watching it unfold these past months as the Opt Outs to the Dryer vs NFL Films Settlement offer came streaming in to the court. It’s looks likely that combined with the Opt Outs received by Goldberg Persky White and Bob Stein’s firms, as well as those sent in to the appointed management company and those sent in directly to the courts, we may well be looking at 1,000 Opt Outs or more. . As we continue to be educated about class actions lawsuits, 100 responses or Opt Outs would have been a typical expectation in most cases. Apathy. Lack of information. Distraction. All these factors contribute to the standard low response that most class action settlements tend to generate. But this lawsuit isn’t really about a one-time deal, as many of you have been realizing and voicing your opinions about loudly. And now we need to be even more vocal. Why? Because it’s all now allowed to do. Even though the Opt Out deadline has come and gone (August 30, 2013), the Court postponed the hearing from September to October 17, 2013 while not granting an extension to the Opt Out/Objection period. Even more interesting, the Court also allowed the lawyers who have been selling this Settlement offer to take another bite of the apple in attempting to dissuade those who have Opted Out to reconsider. And the firms who filed the two new suits against the NFL/NFL Films are being asked to dismiss them (without prejudice) until this phase is decided. But it gets more interesting: Two of the so-called new plaintiffs who were used to replace the Original Six actually filed official Opt Out notices with the Court – and BEFORE the two new lawsuits were filed. Since retired players are no longer allowed to Opt Out, we’ve decided to keep our online poll up and running until the hearing in October. Please vote if you haven’t already done so – it’s the only place left to openly voice your opinion of this proposed Settlement. .continue reading »
. What was it that Deion Sanders said a while back about how other retired players are whining because concussions don’t exist? Here’s our earlier post along with accompanying comments -click HERE to read our earlier post. .continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our phone lines and Inboxes have been tied up since last Thursday when it was first announced that there was a tentative settlement offer being presented to the court by the mediator in the NFL concussion lawsuits. On first review, there are some details that haven’t really been made available yet and this spin is also starting to look very familiar. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of speculation and misinformation out there already pouring out of the media and we’re just as guilty with trying to second-guess much of what’s been said. But we’ve had some conversations with many of the retired players and lawyers in an attempt to get more facts as well as to calm things down. . Something that’s interesting to note: All the media – especially the mainstream sports media with the likes of ESPN which axed its ties to the League of Denial documentary with PBS – have been posting opinion pieces and misinformation about this settlement proposal. Most of the people directly involved with the litigation have informed us that they have very few details yet. The only party in this whole mess who have NOT said anything is… You guessed it. The League. Is this another typical NFL pit-everyone-against-each-other maneuver? Hmmm. And if you do want some real gossip, check out this piece on who may have been part of the negotiations: Click HERE. . George Visger asked us to post his thoughts here online as part of a better strategy for everyone: The best answer is, “We don’t have all the facts yet. Let’s just wait and see.” . # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # . I owe Jason Luckasevic a HUGE apology. . JASON, I APOLOGIZE FOR MY COMMENTS I E-MAILED YESTERDAY. . I will follow up by sending this to everyone I emailed my displeasure at the settlement to. . Again, I apologize. . I know you have been in this battle for the last 6 years. You told me years ago, prior to it even being filed, you were in it for the long run. I remember meeting with you and an attorney from a big bad firm that was involved in the settlement with Big Tobacco. You were looking to team with them as no law firm has the resources to take on the NFL conglomerate alone. . After months of review, one law firm after another turned tail and ran. You called me that day to state, “George, we will get this done for all the families who have suffered. We’ll find lawyers with enough backbone and integrity to go after these NFL with us.” . As soon as I heard the announcement Thursday of the NFL’s proposed settlement in the NFL head injury case, I fell for the NFL’s propaganda. When I read stories about the amount and payment schedule over 20 years, I was livid. . “What is this garbage?” I thought. “$750 a month paid out over 20 years?!!” . As I have a tendency to do, I jumped the gun. I fired off upset before I had any of the facts – other than the “facts” we were fed which were only partial truths. It may be more propaganda from the NFL as a last ditch, Hail Mary attempt to divide us once again. The truth of the matter is that Jason Luckasevic and the other key attorneys involved still don’t know the details yet: Exact amounts, who gets what or how it will all be divided or the process of rejecting this proposal. . You stated you need to make sure it’s even real money and you need more time to sort out the facts. . I believe you and I hope all my NFL brothers I may have fired up (and some who got me fired up) will also do the same. . Jason Luckasevic is the ONLY attorney who has been involved from the inception of this case when it was only a “potential” case. Others have joined the fray and may be making more noise than Jason but that’s been all right with him as it is with me. . You did more than what you promised me years ago. You said, “I can’t promise you anything or even if we will ever get a suit out of this, but I promise you we will do everything in our power to get it done if there’s any possibility at all.” . Thanks for keeping your word. And again I apologize for ever doubting your integrity. . My family thanks you too. . George Visger San Francisco 49ers 1980 & 1981 Super Bowl XVI Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused brain surgeries Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits The Visger Group Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting . I spoke to Jason and other parties involved in the suit this morning. Some of the terms have not even been worked out and when they do, we will all have a say in it. The final settlement must be approved by the players and attorneys. If we don’t like the settlement we don’t approve it. It’s that simple. . PS: My actions and statements are classic examples of what those of us who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries and CTE face.
BREAKING: From the Associated Press and just released on FOX Sports: .
NFL, players reach proposed $765M settlement of concussion-related lawsuits
Published August 29, 2013 Associated Press . PHILADELPHIA – The NFL and more than 4,500 former players want to resolve concussion-related lawsuits with a $765 million settlement that would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research, a federal judge said Thursday. . The plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. They also include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year. .continue reading »
Well, it looks like retired players may finally be getting the NFL’s attention. When they start trying to censor the conversation, you know they’re getting worried. After years of simply denying and spinning out fiction with phony committees and lying “doctor” experts, the League started a new PR initiative to give the appearance of caring about their employees, the very ingredient that makes up the NFL Money Machine. You have new safety rules and even slick posters put up in all the team locker rooms. But absolutely nothing substantial has been done to address the consequences from decades of denial and ignoring the damage done to the lives of all the men from years past..continue reading »
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..
Most retired players and fans remember Fred Dryer (NY Giants, LA Rams 1969 – 1981). As the original lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the NFL and NFL Films, Fred and the other five co-plaintiffs have watched as the lawsuit was diverted from their original goal of finally getting back visual and image rights for ALL retired players after decades of unauthorized and uncompensated use by the League. Fred did a recent interview on SBNation’s Uffsides with host Matt Ufford. .
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post came in from Rick Eber in answer to Jerry Sherk’s comments on our Monday Morning Chuckle post – click HERE to read first. .
Jerry, . I agree with your thinking. Good call. . Let me see if I understand correctly. . Bob Stein and Tom Ward work for the original Dryer plaintiffs. Like their clients, they oppose the settlement supporting the opt-out option. Because the court might approve the settlement, Bob and Tom need to submit their fees along with supporting documents or they won’t get paid for years of work. This means that Bob and Tom actually don’t want to get paid unless they are forced to do so by the courts. Fact is, Bob and Tom are willing to delay payment of their legal fees by opposing the settlement. And Hausfeld sees this as being – my word: two-faced. Makes you wonder! . Bob and Tom are actually working against their own financial interests by opposing the settlement. Talk about commitment. How many of us would fight to delay and actually run the risk of losing a million plus for a “fairness principle” and retired teammates? . If this settlement is forced upon Bob and Tom, they still deserve to be paid for their work like any other good attorney! . “Like any other good attorney” is an interesting notion. I ask myself, what would Hausfeld do if they were in the same situation as Bob and Tom? For example: The concussion settlement team reaches an agreement with the NFL that Hausfeld believes is unfair and inappropriate; consequently, Hausfeld opposes the settlement just like Bob and Tom. In following this example, I would certainly then expect Hausfeld to NOT submit his million-plus fees to the court just as they are criticizing Bob and Tom for doing now. Fair? Or does anyone believe the Hausfeld firm would be considered – what’s that word? – hypocritical by submitting their legal fees to the court even though they oppose the settlement… just like Bob and Tom? . In this example, if Hausfeld hypocritically asked the court for fees, would they “take credit” by giving the court a list of contributions they made to the settlement effort to justify their fees? I would think yes, just as Bob and Tom need to do. Or would Hausfeld submit the request for fees to the court without any “take credit” evidence of contribution to the settlement and expect the court to approve? If the answer is yes, we have no chance in the concussion litigation! . The real answer is simple: Bob and Tom don’t want this deal but they deserve payment even if it’s settled against their will and they need to be properly compensated for their contribution to the case. Hausfeld would certainly do the same. This is a legal process trap for Bob and Tom that Hausfeld is manipulating in their “newsletter” thing that is more propaganda than legitimate communication, in my humble opinion. End of story. Period! . This attack on Bob and Tom is a Hausfeld canard that wreaks of hypocrisy and sophism! . What’s scary? This is the critical thinking-power of a law firm I once considered to represent me in the concussion litigation lawsuit! When asked, I would not recommend any firm that attacks an alumni brother to anyone. If they give us up this easily on the NFL Films lawsuit, I can only imagine how quickly they’ll sell us out on our concussion lawsuits! . Take care, Jerry! . Rick Eber Falcons, Chargers 1968 – 1972 . . . .
To Hausfeld LLP et al: . Well, if you’ve forgotten about our past posts and the subsequent veiled and not-so-veiled threats from you and your associates we’ve received this year over the Dryer vs NFL Films Settlement offer, it might be a good idea to go back and read them first. This is a blog. We voice OPINIONS. It’s an editorial right protected under the First Amendment. The ACLU will have a field day with you and the NFL if you’d like to take that topic up with them. . In the meantime,”as responsible journalists,” we’ll certainly post your item on OUR blog as soon as you and your partner firms do the following:
Operate as ethical attorneys;
Represent your clients;
Provide full disclosure on backroom side deals with the NFL;
Provide full Opt-Out and Objection forms immediately to all members of the class;
Publicly disclose all Opt-Outs and Objections immediately instead of blocking them from view until just before the next hearing;
Stop client-shopping and represent and consult with the Original Plaintiffs in this lawsuit.