Not long after Tom Brady and nine other current players filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the lockout or, at a minimum, providing the players with enough leverage to get a fair labor deal, a class of former players filed a similar suit, raising virtually identical allegations of antitrust violations, even though none of the retired players have any direct stake in the situation because they are, you know, retired. The only thing saving the suit from being borderline frivolous was the addition of an undraftable rookie, who argued that the draft is illegal.
The NFL and the current players have been respectful to the class of retired players, led by Carl Eller, and their lawyer, Michael Hausfeld. The current players, for example, didn’t resist effort to combine the two cases, and Eller and Hausfeld were involved in early court-ordered mediation sessions, even though Eller and Hausfeld seemed to be a little too willing to talk about what was happening behind closed doors. The league likewise has treated Eller with deference and respect, allowing him to meet with owners last week to address his concerns.
Over the past four weeks, the real parties in this dispute — the NFL and the NFLPA* — have been meeting in an effort to resolve the situation and allow the lockout to end. But there’s a problem. Per Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, Hausfeld doesn’t like the fact that the Eller plaintiffs have been excluded from recent talks, and Hausfeld is threatening to disrupt the settlement process.
“If our side is not heard and our desire for change is not met, we will not agree to a settlement of this case,” Hausfeld told Cole, while also acknowledging that the Eller plaintiffs likely have no ability to prevent a settlement of the case. “We want substantial changes in all phases of the post-career life of retirees and those issues will be addressed.”
That’s fine, but it makes the Eller case no less weak. Once a labor deal is resurrected, the retired players’ claims morph from borderline frivolous to moot. If the NFL and the NFLPA* reach a settlement that includes a new labor deal, the Eller case will become moot.
Until then, it’s just borderline frivolous.