Timeline - Retired Football Players/Eller et al vs NFL et al


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This is a timeline to date of the events leading up to the class action lawsuit brought against the NFL, the former Union the NFLPA and individual players representing the current class of active players in the NFL. The lawsuit is led by Carl Eller.

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Timeline - Retired Football Players/Eller et al vs NFL et al

  1. 1. Eller vs. NFL<br />Timeline of Events<br />
  2. 2. February 10, 2011<br />On February 10, 2011, the NFL filed a charge against the NFLPA with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), accusing the Union of failing to negotiate in good faith.<br />
  3. 3. March 11, 2011<br />On March 11, 2011, after unsuccessful negotiation sessions, DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFLPA, sent a letter to all NFL Club Presidents and General Managers informing them that the NFLPA had “renounced its status as collective bargaining agent for all NFL players.” As a result, no NFLPA representative could continue CBA discussions.<br />
  4. 4. March 11, 2011<br />Later on in the evening on March 11, 2011, certain active NFL players (including Drew Brees) filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL and its member clubs alleging various antitrust, contract and tort theories. The case was titled: Brady v. NFL, No. 0:11-cv-00639 SRN JGG (D. Minn.) (“Brady”).<br /><ul><li>The Brady plaintiffs stated in their Complaint that the decertification of the NFLPA meant that NO players were represented any longer by the NFLPA. Meaning everyone was on their own.
  5. 5. The Brady plaintiffs sought to represent current players and rookies. At no point did the Brady plaintiffs or the former NFLPA seek to represent a class of retired NFL players.</li></li></ul><li>March 28, 2011<br />On March 28, 2011, a complaint was filed by Carl Eller, Priest Holmes, ObafemiAyanbadejo and Ryan Collins against the NFL and its member clubs. The suit was titled: Eller v. NFL, No. 11-cv--00748 (D. Minn.) (“Eller” or “Eller Plaintiffs” or “NFL retirees”).<br /><ul><li>The Eller case was brought on behalf of a class of retired NFL players alleging various antitrust, contract and tort theories against the NFL.</li></li></ul><li>April 11, 2011<br />On April 11, 2011, the district court consolidated the Eller and Brady cases and ordered that ALL parties participate in mediation before Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.<br />All parties were present for Mediation sessions on April 14-15 and 19-20, and May 16-17.<br />Counsel for the plaintiffs in Brady repeatedly disclaimed any intent to represent the class of retired players defined in Eller.<br />
  6. 6. May 15, 2011<br />On May 15, 2011 counsel for the Eller plaintiffs convened a retiree summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Attendees from Fourth and Goal, Gridiron Greats, Retired Players’ Association, Independent Football Veterans, Dignity After Football, NFL Alumni chapters and the NFLPA were all present. The gathering was one of the largest ever assembled of representatives of various retiree groups within the NFL community. The group agreed to come together in supporting the NFL Retirees’ lawsuit and/or the issues being addressed by the NFL Retirees’ lawsuit.<br />
  7. 7. May 19, 2011<br />On May 19, 2011 counsel for the Brady plaintiffs wrote an e-mail to counsel for the Eller Plaintiffs, stating “[w]e would propose that the Brady plaintiffs cover the economic system issues: free agency rules and restrictions, rookie rules and restrictions; and the economic split (i.e. - salary cap or no salary cap, revenue split with players, etc). Eller would make the proposal on the retired player issues.”<br />
  8. 8. May 25, 2011<br />On May 25, 2011 a follow-up meeting was held in Chicago for the purposes of making a combined proposal on retiree issues that was to later be sent to Judge Boylan.<br />
  9. 9. June 1 & June 6, 2011<br />On June 1, 2011 and June 6, 2011 counsel for the Eller Plaintiffs met with Dennis Curran of the NFL to discuss retiree issues. Subsequently, Eller counsel made a proposal for increased benefits that went significantly above the level proposed by the NFL at the federal mediation. Counsel for the Eller Plaintiffs also repeatedly told the League that any settlement would have to provide that the League’s interaction with former NFL players would have to occur through an organization devoted to the interests of former NFL players and that the organization was to be separate from the NFLPA.<br />
  10. 10. June 20, 2011<br />On June 20, 2011, counsel for the Eller Plaintiffs also organized a massive press conference on the plight of retirees held at the National Press Club. Members of the Football Hall of Fame (Eller, Lenny Moore of the Baltimore Colts, Elvin Bethea of the Houston Oilers, Joe DeLamielleure of the Buffalo Bills, Paul Krause of the Washington Redskins, Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions), as well as non-Hall of Famers George Visger, Conrad Dobler, Irv Cross, Dave Pear, Shawn Stuckey, and several recently retired NFL players were all present and spoke about issues affecting NFL retirees. Retired players from every decade since the 1960’s were in attendance. <br />
  11. 11. June 22, 2011<br />Carl Eller met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and four NFL owners on June 22, 2011 and voiced his concerns that the talks did not involve the retired players. <br />
  12. 12. June 28, 2011<br />On June 28, 2011 counsel for the Eller Plaintiffs told a reporter:<br />“[I]f our side is not heard and our desire for change is not met, we will not agree to a settlement of this case… We want substantial changes in all phases of the post-career life of retirees and those issues will be addressed.”<br />
  13. 13. June 28, 2011<br />Nolan Harrison (“Harrison”), the NFLPA’s Senior Director of Retired Players, was quoted as saying on June 28 that “[w]e obviously can’t comment on any of the specifics but the suit by their group is what it is. I think the retired players were very well represented in the earlier negotiations [before Cohen] by Cornelius Bennett, Jim McFarland and even [NFLPA president] Kevin Mawae, who has been retired for a year now.”<br />
  14. 14. May - June, 2011<br />In the period since May 16, the NFL and NFLPA held five negotiating sessions in Chicago, Boston, Long Island, Maryland and Minneapolis. Neither the Eller Plaintiffs nor their counsel were allowed to attend these meetings.<br />In June of 2011, it became clear from news reports that the NFLPA and NFL were negotiating issues relating to retired NFL players. A public tweet by Harrison dated June 22, 2011 indicated that “[a]t each session the interest of former players have been well represented by hall of famer Cornelius Bennett [and] others.” Neither the Court, nor the Eller Plaintiffs authorized the NFLPA to assume that role. <br />
  15. 15. May - June, 2011<br />Based on information and news reports, it appears that the NFLPA is continuing to seek to maximize the payments made to current NFL players at the expense of the benefits made available to former NFL players. This kind of behavior is what has caused the NFL retirees to be in their current disadvantaged position, where they have remained in for decades and that initially prompted the Eller Plaintiffs’ lawsuit.<br />The retirees have repeatedly requested that the current players, the NFLPA and the NFL follow the district judge’s request to include the retirees in the Mediation.<br />
  16. 16. July 4, 2011<br />Consequently, on July 4, 2011 we filed a motion seeking leave to amend the Complaint in the Eller v. NFL lawsuit to show that NFL retirees – Hall of Famers, famous former players, forgotten former players, vested players, and non-vested players – from one training camp to 20 years in the NFL - are slowly building momentum, are unifying behind one voice, and are saying to the NFL, NFL owners, the NFLPA, and current players that we should and will be heard. To this end, Carl Eller, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Paul Krause, Lem Barney, Joe DeLamielleure, Elvin Bethea, ObafemiAyanbadejo and Ryan Collins (a group consisting of Hall of Famers, famous players, forgotten players, vested players and non-vested players) joined forces and sought leave to file an amended complaint against not only the NFL, but the NFLPA and the current Brady plaintiffs demanding that they be included in all future discussions involving them. <br />
  17. 17. For more information please contact:<br />Michael Hausfeld, Hausfeld, LLP<br />mhausfeld@hausfeldllp.com<br />Shawn Stuckey, Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP<br />SStuckey@zelle.com<br />Carl Eller, President of Retired Players Association<br />carl@nflretiredplayersassociation.org<br />http://www.nflretiredplayersassociation.org<br />Irv Cross<br />IrvCross27@gmail.com<br />Dave Pear, Founder of DavePear.com<br />DavePear76@gmail.com<br />http://www.footballvets.org<br />Robert Lee, Publisher of DavePear.com<br />RobertinSeattle@gmail.com<br />Tony Davis, Fourth and Goal<br />TDavis1453@yahoo.com<br />Shannon Jordan, President of Gridiron Greats<br />Shannon.Jordan11@gmail.com<br />Brent Boyd, Dignityafterfootball.org<br />https://www.facebook.com/groups/DignityAfterFootball<br />BBoyd62@aol.com<br />Greg Koch, Dignityafterfootball.org<br />gkoch@koch-law.com<br />