When it comes to the courtroom, the NFL Players Association has had a good few days. Last week, a judge dismissed a claim brought by former players who alleged that the NFLPA had an obligation to market the licensing rights of all retired players. On Tuesday, the judge who presided over the 2011 antitrust action against the NFL threw out a lawsuit against the union regarding the benefits ultimately given to former players as part of the new labor deal, according to the Associated Press.
Judge Susan Nelson found that the NFLPA has no legal duty to maximize the money that will go to the former players under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Lawyer Michael Hausfeld plans to appeal.
The retired players, led by Hall of Famer Carl Eller, also joined NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and retired NFL linebacker Mike Vrabel as defendants.
The outcome highlights the reality that former players are legally entitled only to retirement benefits that they successfully negotiated for themselves while playing. Anything above and beyond those amounts representsan act of charity by the NFL and the NFLPA.
That dynamic also may help explain why so many former players are suing the NFL for concussions suffered during their careers. With the league having no legal obligation, but arguably a strong moral duty, to take care of the men who helped make the game what it now is, plenty of former players may be relying on the concussion litigation as a way to obtain indirectly those additional benefits that aren’t directly available from the NFL.