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.”
We’re quickly approaching the deadline for Opting Out of the NFL Films Settlement offer deadline this Friday and we can’t help but think about all the different “Whys?” that keep coming up in our Comments Section as more and more retired players continue to Opt Out. In past posts, we’ve often compared the NFL to that creepy little neighborhood kid who used to come over to your house to play Monopoly. He never liked to lose and he always cheated and made up his own rules as he went along. .
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. .
Jim McFarland officially filed his opt out from the Dryer vs NFL Films Settlement offer with the Minnesota court today. Jim has had a very unique, inside view of things, having been one of two retired players who were invited to participate with the NFLPA (Jim was voted to the NFLPA Executive Committee in 2010) during some of the early phases of the last CBA negotiations with the NFL a couple of years ago. Jim later expressed frustration at his lack of a vote in any of the matters discussed and how many of his suggestions were ignored or dismissed with little consideration..Jim was also with us at the early meetings at Hausfeld’s offices when he was taking part in CBA discussions with the PA. With six years playing for the Bills, Cardinals and Dolphins in the 70′s and his post-football career as a practicing attorney in Nebraska, Jim continues to bring a unique perspective on the NFL Films deal with his filing against this Settlement offer.We’ve uploaded a copy of Jim MacFarland’s opt-out 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):. .
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 . . . .
. I received my latest Retirement Plan notification today that the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan was underfunded once again. All pension plans are required by federal law to inform its beneficiaries about such events or else most of us would never even know about these things going on in a $10 billion a year business. I guess that’s why they pay Roger Goodell $35 million+ a year while DeMaurice Smith managed to collect a $3 million bonus a couple of years ago for the fine job he did in negotiating the 10-year CBA. . And here we are being told by the NFL and their lawyer buddies that their $50 million Settlement Offer in the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit is absolutely the best deal they can possibly make even though most – or none – of that money will ever reach retired players hands. They can’t even fund retirement players’ current pension and disability plans and now they want you to get nothing for your images and footage from your role in past games. . Here’s the interesting thing: I had forgotten that we also got a similar notice last year in July! In other words, our pension plan has basically been underfunded since the CBA was signed over two years ago! We’ve uploaded both notices on Scribd for easy viewing on our Blog and to make it available for downloading and printing, especially to those of you who may not even be on their mailing list. 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: September looks like it’s probably going to be a very hot month for the NFL, with two important hearings in two separate lawsuits. . All objections and Opt Outs against the NFL Films Settlement offer have to be filed by August 30, 2013 and the hearing will be on September 19 in Minneapolis MN. Mark your calendars. . Last Monday, Judge Anita Brody ordered the NFL and the retired players in the concussion lawsuits into mediation and appointed a mediator, retired US District Court Judge Layn Phillips. As you’ll see in the copy of the order issued below, there is now a gag order preventing all parties from publicly disclosing any details of the mediation discussions. What’s interesting to note is that the judge did not acknowledge the CBA and the NFL’s argument for arbitration. .
Is it just us or do these people at the NFL (and the NFLPA) always live by a completely different set of rules that only apply to them? We’ve had every dirty trick in the book thrown at us with all kinds of veiled threats and inferences of wrongdoing for expressing the opinions of the many. And in each instance, we’ve been backed up by those who know better. And we’re still here thanks to the broad support of the retired player community out there. .continue reading »
. OK. Got your attention now? That guy with all the staples on the back of his head is… me. This picture was taken four years ago in 2009 after I finally came out of a 3-week coma. During that coma, I went in and out of consciousness but still remember nothing to this day. At one point, the doctors made a quick decision to operate which probably saved my life. Not many of my old football buddies know about this life-changing event in my life. But I’ve decided to tell everyone about it now for several reasons. Mostly, it’s because like some of the earlier posts have been saying, I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE! And whether you want to believe it or not, everything that happens in life is connected in one way or another. I hope that by telling my own story, I can convince more of you retired players that the Dryer vs NFL (Films) Settlement offer is a really bad deal in more ways than one and that each of you needs to get off the couch and at the very least, vote against it here on Dave’s Blog. And then either Opt Out yourself or hire a decent attorney to fill out the paperwork for you. If you end up not doing anything and losing your rights, that might not be the only thing you’ll end up losing. .continue reading »
The NFLPA just filed their 2013 LM-2 yesterday with the Dept. of Labor as required of all labor unions and associations. This year, it’s a whopping 549 pages long with plenty of disclosure including salaries, payouts and expenses. We’re just starting to look over all the information loaded in this year’s filing and we’ll post more details shortly as we come across interesting details (we encourage all our readers to send us anything you come across or simply post it in the Comments section below). . A couple of items of interest: . p. 555 -Marco Island Marriott Resort & Golf Club was paid $354,796 for the NFLPA’s April and June meetings in 2012. . p. 544 -Kerzner International Resorts in Plantation FL was paid a total of $1,221,137 for a total of FOUR “2013 NFLPA Board Meetings”! (Wha?!!) . p. 264 -The Groom Law Group (who were supposed to be fired by DeMaurice Smith when he took over as NFLPA Executive Director) and also runs and represents not only the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan but also the NFL walked away with $652,045 in fees this year. . p. 55 -Nike paid $11,772,308 in licensing fees. . p. 45 -Attorney Jeffrey Kessler had a $12,846 transaction for Super Bowl tickets and rooms. . Meanwhile, Kessler’s new firm Winston Strawn was paid (his old firm, Dewey LaBoeuf filed for bankruptcy last year):
p. 82 -$3,932,388
p. 538 -$124,592
p. 538 -$46,879
. p. 20 -Nolan Harrison III received $226,055 as Senior Director of Former Players. . p. 18 -Andre Collins only received $169,253 as Director of Former Players. .continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: Is there a pattern here? As always, nothing ever really changes with the NFL (and the NFLPA by association). After years of propaganda and misinformation, the League announced that Dr. No Ira Casson and Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman would no longer be running the MTBI Committee (that’s the MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Committee – LoL!). Just like when he was first brought on board to replace Gene Upshaw in 2009, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith announced that he was firing the Groom Law Group because it was a conflict of interest. (But according to their latest tax returns, it turns out the NFLPA still managed to pay Groom Law Group over $1 million in fees last year.) And just like the San Diego Chargers’ controversial Dr. DWI Chao lobbied on the NFL’s behalf to ensure that Junior Seau’s brain did NOT get into the hands of pathologist and CTE scientist Dr. Bennet Omalu. It seems clear that none of these people have any intention of real change – it’s all about how much less it costs to hire PR spin doctors to change public perceptions instead. We were debating which title would be more appropriate for this post: Different Day, Same Crap! or You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! . So now comes this latest piece from Patrick Hruby that finds Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman still working deep inside the NFL. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick. .
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 »