NFL wants letter with details of settlement offer removed from web

The NFL’s litigation portfolio currently includes a lawsuit filed by retired players regarding the ongoing presence of their names and likenesses in NFL Films productions.  And the league isn’t happy that a supposedly sizable settlement offer has been leaked by one of the plaintiffs.

According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the NFL wants former player Bob Lurtsema to be held in contempt of court, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini-style, for publishing a letter that purports to include details of the settlement discussions.  The issue will be presented in court this afternoon, with a request that Lurtsema be questioned about who, if anyone, assisted him.

Lurtsema writes in an entry posted at DavePear.com that the league has offered $50 million, a proposal that Lurtsema deems unacceptable — but that the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Michael Hausfeld, apparently recommends.

“The NFL-Hausfeld proposal will pay $42 million (after $8 million in legal fees are paid) over 12 years, with all of it going only to charity programs,” Lurtsema contends.  “That amounts to under $15/month for each of the 20,000+ players whose rights would also be signed away.  Of course, the lawyers would get paid $8 million up front immediately.  Looks to me like each of us will gain absolutely nothing from the NFL-Hausfeld settlement and only the NFL and the lawyers win.”

The NFL implies that Lurtsema’s claim isn’t accurate, argues that Lurtsema should not have said anything publicly about the situation, and asks that the letter be removed from the Internet.

“Lurtsema’s letter discloses [and distorts] many of the terms of the proposed settlement, in flagrant violation of the court’s repeated admonitions to all parties that the settlement negotiations, which are being conducted under the court’s supervision, must be held in strict confidence,” the NFL wrote to the court, via Kaplan.

If the NFL is willing to fork over that much cash, it suggests that the NFL is concerned about its potential liability, if the case would go to trial.