We’ve been trying, unsuccessfully to date, to get our hands on the new complaint filed by a group of retired players against the NFL, the named plaintiffs in the Tom Brady antitrust action, and NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith.
The folks at CourthouseNews.com have seen the 64-page document, and they’ve pointed out one specific portion that takes aim at Saints quarterback and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees.
In support of the argument that current players aren’t committed to taking care of the retired players, the lawsuit echoes this quote from Brees: “There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions. They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’” The retired players claim that this quote constitutes “antipathy for NFL retirees” from Brees.
An active participant in mediation sessions that occurred before the labor deal expired and all legal hell broke loose, Brees has not been involved in any of the more recent talks, which possibly are laying the foundation for a settlement. In April, Brees said that he “likely” will attend future sessions. It’s unclear why Brees has yet to return. (In a few days, if a settlement can be reached, it won’t matter.)
As to Brees’ comments about retired players, there’s a good chance that he’s right. And we firmly believe that the current players have no legal obligation to carve off a piece of their total compensation in order to take care of men who played the game years if not decades ago. Still, we believe that both sides have a moral obligation to ensure that the former players on whose shoulders the current players, coaches, and owners are now standing are treated fairly and properly. It doesn’t mean that men who squandered their NFL money should get handouts, but it does mean that those who currently are making millions from a sport that supports such salaries should find a way to address the legitimate needs of the men who helped provide care and feeding to the goose long before it was popping out golden eggs.