SBJ/May 6-12, 2013/In Depth

NFL Films plaintiffs oppose settlement

Six former NFL players, led by Fred Dryer, sued NFL Films in 2009 for not paying them when the league used their images and footage in videos and shows. In March, the NFL announced a $50 million settlement, and the court has given preliminary approval, but the six original plaintiffs are not on board.


Dryer opposes the settlement because none of the $50 million would go directly to the six former players. The money is set to go to charities that benefit former players and a new licensing agency for retirees. It is that new licensing agency that is the biggest takeaway for the sports world, the first ever dedicated only to retiree images.

The judge who gave preliminary approval for the settlement blasted the six plaintiffs for opposing it.

“It bears repeating: the individuals who originally brought this lawsuit and whonow oppose the settlement rode into court on the banner of saving their downtrodden brethren, those who had played in the NFL yet today were
Fred Dryer, shown in his playing days in 1978, is leading the effort to make the NFL pay to use images of retirees.
Photo by: Getty Images
penniless and, often, suffering from injuries or illnesses directly related to their playing days,” wrote U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson. “It is the height of disingenuousness for these same Plaintiffs to now complain, like children denied dessert, that the settlement does not benefit enough the individuals who brought the lawsuit.”

Chances are, given that comment, that Magnuson will approve the settlement at a scheduled hearing in September. The settlement would allow the NFL to continue using retirees’ images.

At that point, Dryer and his coterie can either fold up the tent, or opt out of the settlement and file a new lawsuit.
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