On July 4, a group of retired players led by Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller made the ultimate power play, filing an amended class-action lawsuit to include both the NFL, the 10 current players who sued the NFL, and NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith.
The claims, which are in our estimation borderline frivolous given the retired players’ lack of legal standing to force the league and the current players to give the retired players any cut of the revenue pie, would still need to be properly resolved via appropriate due process, which necessarily could take some time even if the courts agree with our assessment. Thus, if they want to, Eller and company could delay the settlement between the league and the players.
When lawyer Michael Hausfeld, who represents the class, joined PFT Live on July 8, it seemed fairly clear that, no matter how things shake out, Eller and company don’t want to get in the way of the possible return of football. Five days ago, Eller himself said that the retired players won’t stand in the way of a settlement.
Against that background, a source with knowledge of the broader negotiations reports that the Eller plaintiffs are still in position to potentially torpedo the deal.
Per the source, Hausfeld argues that the NFL and the NFLPA* are engaged in illegal collective bargaining, that the pre-asterisked NFLPA previously represented the interests of retired players via collective bargaining, and that the retired players now want to represent their own interests and rights.
Fine, Hausfeld. The retired players represent their interests and rights. And they may be interested to know that they have no rights.
So maybe that’s what should happen. The NFLPA* should stop all efforts to get anything for retired players, and the retired players can then try on their own to get health care and whatever else they currently have no right to get.
Making this effort at the 12th hour hurts the retired players on many levels. If the NFL decides to play hardball, the retired players could get far less than the NFLPA* could ever get for them. And the NFL could decide to play hardball, if/when public opinion turns sharply against the retired players.
As it will.
So, please, Mr. Eller and Mr. Hausfeld. For the best interests of all retired players, get out of the way of football. Like you already promised you would.