Law firm addresses NFL conflict of interest issue


Two days ago, a report emerged that up to 70 players were considering the possibility of intervening in the Tom Brady antitrust litigation.  As it turned out, the firm in question had a conflict of interest, which the NFL refused to waive.

The firm, Barnes & Thornburg, has issued a statement on the situation, a copy of which was forwarded to PFT.

“Barnes & Thornburg was recently approached on a matter that, if accepted, would have been adverse to the NFL,” the statement reads.  “As in any case where our law firm is asked to be adverse to an existing client, even on an unrelated matter, we will not undertake the new representation without the current client’s consent.  We contacted the NFL about the matter and the NFL declined to consent to our prospective adverse representation.  As we would with any client, we respect the NFL’s declination of consent and will not be accepting an engagement adverse to the NFL.  Because of client and prospective client confidentiality obligations we are unable to comment further.”

Under the American Bar Association’s model rules of professional conduct, the representation possibly could have proceeded, with written consent from the NFL and the players to be represented.

The decision by the NFL not to allow Barnes & Thornburg to handle the case doesn’t mean that the issue of possible intervention is dead.  We’ve heard rumblings that the firm erroneously named in last night’s Associated Press article — Cafferty Faucher — could be in play to take on the case on behalf of players who don’t believe their interests are being properly represented by the Brady plaintiffs.

That said, we’re presently skeptical about the possibility of a splinter group and will remain skeptical until names are attached to this supposed effort to broaden the pool of players who are speaking for all of them.  Even if the players involved are having trouble securing representation, they should have no trouble attracting attention to their cause, especially with Twitter and Facebook readily available.

With each passing hour, silence makes us more inclined to believe that there is no splinter group.

10 responses to “Law firm addresses NFL conflict of interest issue

  1. “Even if the players involved are having trouble securing representation, they should have no trouble attracting attention to their cause, especially with Twitter and Facebook readily available.”

    Yeah I don’t quite agree with you there. These “lower tier” players have more to be concerned about than the rookies coming in this year. They would represent the fringe, a group that is easily replacable. Wouldn’t you want to make 100% sure that your representation was fully in place before spouting off that you were pissed? These guys probably have a greater chance of being blackballed than the plaintiffs in the Brady case.

  2. Knew this was a red herring from the start. In todays social media world how could 70 “mid-tier” players keep this a secret. There would be at least a couple of names leaked and nothing so far? Its a rumor put out by…who? Thats the question.

  3. It really seems like the “splinter group” was nothing more then an ambulance chasing law firm that wanted part of whatever deal gets worked out.

  4. This matter of the 70 mid-level players looking out for their interests gives me hope that they are finally going to see the big picture. When they hired the mercenary D-Smith they made a big mistake. He is nothing more than a hired gun looking to put a BIG notch in his belt and move to Washington or NY to further his career. He knows nothing about football unlike the late Gene Upshaw who played the game and knew what needed to be done to protect ALL the players and not just the superstars.
    He was villified for being “a toady to the owners” but it was he that crafted a deal that the owners found unacceptable and opted out of. Now this Kessler (who ever the hell he is) comes out and wants to do away with the draft and all the rules that have made this the most popular game in the country. Gene U would not do something so stooopid because the top players would make all the $$$$ and leave crumbs for the other 90%
    Fortunately, some of the players have started to see the light. They neen to get rid of D-Smith and cast their lot with someone who will be around after this is over and for the forseeable future. The players need to avoid being led down the primrose path by a bunch of hired guns.

  5. The most effective action the fans can take if they want football back is to boycott the NFL Draft. If ratings fall like a rock then they’ll finally see the light.

    If fans can’t stay away and ratings actually increase this year, you can bet the owners are going to be out to fully crush the formally known as the players union; and the fans won’t have football for a very long time.

  6. Nice try, NFL… It seems like the PR battle is more important to you than the fans and the future of the league.

    Not only that, but both sides need to get new leadership because DeMaurice Smith is only concerned with repeating history ( a settlement of the lawsuit that results in a new CBA, ala 1993, through federal court ), even if it means dragging the “trade association” through a much worse outcome.

    Goodell is also far weaker as a commissioner ( being personally and publicly involved with everything, making the sport weaker through some radical changes, talking with Ochocinco ????? ) than we could’ve hoped.

  7. why did the NFLPA say that the mid tier 70 player’ys wanting a seat in the anti-trust wasnt true? IMO The players have no idea what they have started,,,Bottomline is the owners are professional business men,who arent going to lose any money…we’ll be lucky if we get to see any games this year..

  8. You remain skeptical? Maybe it is just gossip … but Barnes & Thornburg confirmed being asked to represent people who’d put them at odds with the NFL. Obviously it wasn’t players content with their current representation. And Barnes & Thornburg must feel this new case has merit or they wouldn’t have requested permission to take it.

    If the rumor is true, the personal agents/attorneys of these so-called “mid-tier” players are probably advising them not to comment, tweet, or post until they have attorneys in place and have made their move as a collective.

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