Former NFL Players Suing the NFL

Posted: March 29, 2011 in Robert J. Romano

Former National Football League players, Carl Eller, Priest Holmes, Obafemi Ayanbadejo and Ryan Collins filed a complaint in federal court suing the National Football League seeking to lift the current lockout to ensure their pensions and health benefits remain funded.  Presently, the retired players receive retirement, disability and death benefits, subsidized by the 32 teams.  The retired players content, according to the lawsuit Eller v NFL, that these benefits will end if the collective bargaining agreement is not renewed by March 11, 2012.

It is also the retired players position that their suit should be combined with the antitrust suit filed against the NFL by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

The retired players, through counsel, stated, “We hope that we can be a part of that hearing. For the sake of judicial economy, it would help to streamline things to make sure you get all parties involved at the same table at the same hearing at the same time.”

The former players’ suit also covers draft prospects that are not represented by the NFL Players Association. These plaintiffs seek to avoid one of the league’s chief counterarguments against the Brady lawsuit:  the union illegally decertified.

“The owners say the union has unlawfully decertified and the union should be ordered to reconstitute and forced to sit at the bargaining table,” lead attorney for the retired players stated. “If you look at the last CBA, it represents the rookies that have been drafted and the rookies who have begun negotiating with teams.”

Therefore, college players waiting to be drafted are not represented by the union and cannot be faulted for its decertification, but are being affected by the lockout.

“These players have an antitrust claim,” counsel said. “The owners have shut down their potential employees through a concerted boycott. The suit is going to avoid the main thrust of the owners’ defense and their argument that the matter should be settled by the National Labor Relations Board, not the courts.”

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