Entertainment & Sports Law

Retired NFL players who objected to publicity accord are 'like children denied dessert,' judge says

A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a settlement in a lawsuit that contended the National Football League was misappropriating the likenesses of retired players in promotions.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson of St. Paul, Minn., blasted some retired players who had complained that the settlement didn’t directly benefit them, report Bloomberg News the Associated Press, and NBC’s Pro Football Talk blog.

“It bears repeating: The individuals who originally brought this lawsuit and who now oppose the settlement rode into court on the banner of saving their downtrodden brethren, those who had played in the NFL yet today were penniless and, often, suffering from injuries or illnesses directly related to their playing days,” Magnuson wrote.

“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.”

Among those objecting to the settlement was actor Fred Dryer, a former defensive end with the Los Angeles Rams.

The proposed settlement calls for creation of a special agency to market the players’ publicity rights and a $42 million fund to help pay for such things as retired players’ medical expenses and housing.

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