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. . Fellow retired players - . 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. . 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. . 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. . 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! . 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. . 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! . 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. . 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. . I am against accepting it and wanted all of you to know why. But it should be your own call to make. . Bob Lurtsema Baltimore Colts, New York Giants Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks 1967 – 1977 . .
Some bits-and-pieces of information that have come in, starting with an interesting observation from disability attorney John Hogan (if anyone has heard anything about these reps on disability improvements, please feel free to let us know): . Article 61, Sec. 5 of the new CBA, which became effective over a year ago, provided for “further disability improvements” and that each side would appoint representatives not later than October 31, 2011 to consider these further improvements. I have no idea who was appointed and I have no idea if they have even met. Perhaps more importantly, no one we know has heard from ANY retired player who might have been consulted on what further improvements are needed. .
======================================== . At Sean Pamphilon’s movie preview in Pittsburgh last week, Dave also had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Leonard Marshall (1983 – 1994: New York Giants, New York Jets, Washington Redskins). Leonard’s book When the Cheering Stops: Bill Parcells, the 1990 New York Giants, and the Price of Greatness (co-authored with journalist William Bendetson) was released this past spring and provides a unique inside view of football from his days on the field interwoven with intimate stories about life after the game off the field. Here are two of Leonard’s interviews from last spring: .
. BY EVAN WEINER .
For New York Giants backers, this Sunday’s contest against the Washington Redskins could be the team’s final game for a long, long time. The National Football League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement ends on March 3 and should the owners and players not reach an agreement, the NFL’s off-season will be silent except for the annual draft which will take place as scheduled. .
There will be no free agency, no mini-camps, no organized team activities, no overlooked-in-the-draft college kids signing up with teams and no training camp until the owners and players reach an accord. Meanwhile the players will challenge the legitimacy of the owners’ war chest, which is being stuffed with money from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (FOX), General Electric’s NBC, Summer Redstone’s CBS, Disney’s ESPN and DirecTV. The players filed a complaint to Special Master of the National Football League Stephen Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor. Burbank was appointed by a federal court in 2002 to handle disputes between the owners and players. .
The players could decertify the association, which means that the NFLPA could go to court and ask for an injunction to end the lockout. The argument would be that the players are independent contractors and not part of the association. The owners plan to end players’ benefits as soon as the lockout starts. .
The dispute comes down to money. The NFL owners want to cut back revenues given to the players from 59 to 48 percent and cut salaries by 18 percent. But there are some other issues such as pensions and health benefits. Health benefits should emerge as a major issue, but it hasn’t. .
Week after week, National Football League players are getting hurt in alarming numbers. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers, who was cleared to play against the Giants last Sunday, has had two concussions this year. A concussion is a brain injury. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie is done for the season after getting his “bell rung” again. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is on the field because 2010 Eagles starting quarterback Kevin Kolb went down with a head injury. .
If there is a fortunate part of all the head injuries that have occurred is that the NFL is somewhat more diligent in taking care of head injuries than the League was saying back in 1980. The League is now urging players who have suffered head injuries to come forward and if a teammate notices something awry with a player he suspects has suffered a head injury to speak up. .
But football players, being tough, macho guys who succumb to peer pressure get on the field as soon as they are “well enough” to perform. .
Football players have “sucked it up” since the game was invented and suffered life changing injuries as a result of their actions on the field. A lot of NFL players are now getting government assistance through Social Security Disability and Medicare because they have pre-existing conditions and cannot get health benefits. The issue of our government taking care of discarded players is something that the news media has ignored for reasons known only to those who decide what “news” to cover.