Retired NFL players sue over licensing

October 20, 2008 7:32:54 PM PDT
Retired NFL players are facing off against their union in a San Francisco courtroom. The class action suit involves a couple thousand players who say the union cheated them out of millions of dollars in royalties.

Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley helped the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys win six championship games during the 1960s and 1970s. Now he and more than 2,000 other retired players are suing the NFL Players Association, their union, saying it cheated them out of millions of dollars.

"Without question, they deceived us and betrayed us," said Adderley.

Adderley says retired players are owed millions in royalties from video games like Electronic Arts' Madden NFL, trading cards and other sports products.

"We signed an agreement and we didn't get paid," said Adderley's attorney Ron Katz.

Katz says they are asking for $81.8 million plus punitive damages. He says the players signed a licensing agreement they thought was giving them a cut of profits, but that instead cut them out. He says the judge has read the agreement.

"We've had several orders from Judge Alsup and he has characterized the agreement -- this group licensing authorization -- as a masterpiece of obfuscation," said Katz.

The NFL Players Association acting executive director, Richard Berthelsen, and association attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, say the plaintiffs simply have no case.

"We don't think this case has the slightest bit of merit, and therefore, we expect to prevail," said Kessler.

Former association executive director, Gene Upshaw, had been at the center of this controversy before he died in August. Both sides say his death will not affect the case.

"This case is mainly about the documents, it's mainly about the group licensing authorization. It's not about personalities, it's about conduct. So I think the documents say what they say and that doesn't really depend on Mr. Upshaw's presence," said

Opening statements begin Tuesday.


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