Executives for the NFL Players Association will ask a judge to overturn a $28.1 million verdict a federal jury ordered the union to pay to more than 2,000 of its retired players.
The jury said the union owed the retirees $7.1 million in actual damages for failing to include them in marketing deals with EA Sports, trading card companies and other licensees. Punitive damages pushed the verdict to $28.1 million. Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of 2,056 retired players who alleged the union failed to actively pursue marketing deals on their behalf with video games, trading cards and others products.
Should the $28.1 million award stand, each retired player in the lawsuit would receive about $10,000 after lawyer fees.
“It’s an unjust verdict and we are confident it will be overturned,’’ NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said.
Lawyers representing Adderley and the retired players told the jury during the three-week trial that the union actively sought to cut them out of licensing deals so active players could receive bigger royalty payments. The retirees pointed to a 2001 letter from an NFLPA executive telling executives at EA Sports to scramble the images of retired players in the company’s popular Madden video game, otherwise the company would have to pay them. Only active players received a cut of the EA deal, the union’s largest, which surpassed $35 million for 2008.
Kessler unsuccessfully urged the jury to award far less, arguing the union could suffer economic harm if it had to pay a large amount. “It was the only sports union that tried to do retired players licensing deals,’’ Kessler said.
I’m glad to this this made it to court for one, and now I’m even happier that something was awarded, even though it will go through some more appeals, I’m sure. too many times it’s all about today and today’s players, while those who paved the way for those players are ignored. If companies are making money off of them, they should get a piece of the pie.