Jim Acho: For the Players Who Opted Out

Over the past months of confusion and ongoing drama with the NFL concussion lawsuit, many of you who had opted out of the lawsuit have reached out to me seeking opinions on what to do next.

A while back, our friend, attorney Jim Acho, ran an uphill campaign against DeMaurice Smith in the election for Executive Director of the NFLPA. As an outsider, many of the retired players have relied on Jim not just as legal counsel but also as a close friend and confidante. As someone who was not part of the litigation directly, Jim was gracious enough to take some time to put his thoughts down and submit them to help our readers consider their options. (Keep in mind that we’re not offering legal advice – this is an editorial opinion.)

And thank you, Jim.

An Open Letter to Retired Players Who Opted Out of the Concussion Class Action

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PED Investigation Closed

Earlier today, the NFL announced their “findings” from their drawn-out al Jazeera PED investigation: James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Pepper have been cleared of any allegations that they ever used PED’s based on an already-discredited video from a “witness” who recanted his testimony when he realized that his entire interview had been recorded for TV.

So once again: Why isn’t al Jazeera being sued by the players, the League or the NFLPA?

Here’s the official NFL statement: Continue reading

James Harrison’s “Random” PED Test

pee-testSteelers’ James Harrison has been goading the NFL and Roger Goodell about their request for PED testing following an earlier story on al Jazeera that named him along with several other players of using PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs). Well, on Tuesday, Harrison posted this short clip following a “random” PED test he had apparently been given. (The person who made those claims has since recanted his story.)

No word on the results yet but we can be assured that if the test had come out positive, we would have heard about it already. And he certainly wouldn’t have posted this fun clip on Facebook.

Wonder if Roger Goodell took Harrison up on his invitation to have the meeting at his house and hold the cup?

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Almost Forgot! NFLPA 2015 – 2016 LM-2

upshaw_placeForgot to check on the Dept of Labor’s posts for annual LM-2’s and sure enough, the NFLPA’s latest filing was on May 27, 2016. So once again, your Union at work for you retired players. It looks like membership is actually climbing: Last year, there were 1983 current members and 3200 retired players. This year, they cite 2,072 current and 4470 retired members.

In the interesting salary category, DeMaurice Smith leads the pack with his salary of $2.65 million (and still lagging way behind Goodell’s $31.7 million salary even after another pay cut of $2.4 million from last year – poor Roger!).

Here are a few highlights from salaries – looks like everyone got a raise over last year. We would love to find out why there are so many people involved with ‘Players Affairs’ and what they actually do to earn the big bucks. Oh – and retired Upshaw pal, Richard Berthelsen was still paid $118,254 for “consulting services.”

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Same Sh*t Different Day

After public remarks from an NFL official “acknowledged” possible links between concussions and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter in late June to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman following their reaction to the NFL official’s comments. Keep in mind that the NHL is also now being sued by its players for what may well be a coverup like the NFL’s years of denial.

A month later, Bettman finally sent a 24-page response to Blumenthal denying any link and responsibility for its employees’ long-term concussion issues. 24 pages! Wonder how much their lawyers and PR firm charged them for that?

We’ve uploaded both letters to Scribd for easy reading and downloading. As always, you can click on the Full Screen icon in the lower right corner to enlarge for easier reading (hit ESC to close). Continue reading

Marijuana and the NFL

football weedSo many retired players I’ve met over the years have told me about the NFL’s ongoing use of painkillers to keep them in the game, all while putting out a public stance on HGH and steroid use. And apparently, marijuana has been a long-time favorite.

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BREAKING: Another NFL Concussion “Expert” Retiring

This broke earlier today with a Tweet from ESPN‘s Adam Schefter:

Pellman retirement

Some of the retired players may remember Elliot Pellman as the other ‘Dr. No’ who once chaired the re-named NFL ‘Mild’ Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. While Pellman is actually a doctor, he received his medical degree as a rheumatologist in Mexico years ago and NOT as a neurologist. Pellman stepped in as Chair of the committee after Ira Casson stepped down following an embarrassing grilling in front of a 2009 Congressional hearing on concussions and football (which went nowhere in the end).

At the urging of Commissioner Roger Goodell, Pellman “retired” as “medical advisor” after working with the League for 30 years in various positions (and as former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s personal physician).

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Why Football Will Never Go Away

With so much attention finally being placed on concussions and lawsuits, there has been a lot of discussion about the end of football (and many other professional sports). And the NFL is a $13 billion industry today (and projected to be a $20+ billion business by 2020), there is a real underlying reason why football will likely be around for a long time to come. One word: Gambling.

Football_gamblingEstimates of illegal gambling in 2015 in the States hit $149 BILLION with Super Bowl 50 in 2016 making up $4.1 BILLION in legal bets alone (only 3% – or $100 million – was actually legal betting). With that much money at stake, it’s not hard to understand why gambling and football will be around for a long time. They’ll probably change their recruitment sources (PeeWee, high school and NCAA) and the lawyers will be putting together some very tight disclosure agreements and contracts in the years to come to protect themselves from future litigation. But does anyone truly believe that no one will want to play in the professional leagues even as more information comes out on the long-term effects of brain injuries (CTE, TBI, PTSD)?

Can you envision a future scouting combine every year across America in every major city recruiting for the NFL from the toughest inner city neighborhoods? With more suburban Moms now declaring that they will never allow their sons to play football and the NCAA facing more lawsuits for their responsibilities and obligations to their “amateur” players, the NFL is now facing a serious problem with its current recruitment model. You know there’s a problem when 2016 saw more women announcers on the sidelines than previous years as a futile attempt to bring back football Moms.

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James Harrison is Pissed at the NFL: Here’s Why

james-harrison-fingerBeen away for a few weeks but definitely noticed some of the off-season noise on all the social media networks from James Harrison (2002 – 2015 as a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers with one year in Cincinnati) coming forward to tackle the NFL on its ridiculous “investigation” into performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s) over the years.

It seems to have really started with an investigative report from Al Jazeera last year on PED’s that included interviews with many current and former players that kicked off a firestorm and an “investigation” by the NFL. But not so much an investigation into the use of PED’s as it was a witch hunt into those who actually had the balls to step up and speak out about this open secret inside the League. The League recently announced its plans to “investigate” many of the players implicated in DopeGate, including Peyton Manning who is already involved in another serious investigation: DeflateGate. Ha!

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After the Game: The Willie Wood Story

Willie Wood has done it all in football: From Super Bowl I with the Green Bay Packers (1960 – 1971) in 1967 to the Hall of Fame in 1989 – and all as one of the first black players in the League. At 78, Willy is living in an assisted living facility and his memory has been declining rapidly. His family is sure that Willie has been suffering from CTE following his many years in the NFL.

Busted Again! NFL Tried to Rig Concussion Study

FILE - In this March 11, 2013, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell takes questions during a news conference in New York. Marijuana is casting an ever-thickening haze across NFL locker rooms, and it's not simply because more players are using it. As attitudes toward the drug soften, and science slowly teases out marijuana's possible benefits for concussions and other injuries, the NFL is reaching a critical point in navigating its tenuous relationship with what is being recognized, more and more, as the analgesic of choice for many of its players. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Here we go again! Remember back in 2012 when the NFL so generously offered a no-strings-attached $30 million donation to the National Institute for Health (NIH) to fund its independent studies into football and concussions? But when it came to where the money actually went, the League quickly objected to Boston University’s Dr. Robert Stern’s role in leading the study. Just what part of ‘unconditional’ didn’t they understand? Continue reading

Wha?!! NFL Actually Paid Money Back?

Last year, the story broke about how the NFL and many of its teams were actually paid for those patriotic salutes to our veterans during games. Click HERE to read our post from last November.

check_in_the_mailWell, turns out it still took them 6 months to finally open up their wallets and pay back that money. But it was only $723,734 of the $6.8 million that the Dept. of Defense actually shelled out in total to the NFL and its teams. The rest of it was paid directly to the teams and here’s a list of the Top 10 recipients of those “patriotic tributes” with the Falcons topping the list:

  1. Atlanta Falcons $879,000
  2. New England Patriots $700,000
  3. Buffalo Bills $650,000
  4. Minnesota Wild $570,000
  5. Baltimore Ravens $534,500
  6. New Orleans Saints $472,875
  7. San Diego Chargers $453,500
  8. Seattle Seahawks $453,500
  9. Atlanta Braves $450,000
  10. Indianapolis Colts $420,000

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From 2014: Casualties of the Gridiron – Season 2

And here’s Season 2 of GQ’s Casualties of the Gridiron. Has anything changed for retired players? Do players expect things to get any better with the so-called NFL concussion lawsuit settlement?

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From 2013: Casualties of the Gridiron – Season 1

Back in 2013, GQ produced a documentary that followed several retired NFL players on their journey after leaving the game. The long-term effects of injuries to their bodies and their brains has serious impacts not only on them but their families, all with little or no attention or benefits from the NFL once they’re no longer of any use to them.

Here’s Season 1.

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Gale Sayers and Crew Fight Back

heads i winIn some of our past posts, we’ve often pointed out the Heads-We-Win-Tails-You-Lose approach with all too many lawyers and lawsuits. And we pointed out that the plaintiffs’ attorneys for the NFL concussion lawsuits will be fighting over how to divide up their $112 million legal fees offered to them almost as soon as the settlement actually closes (but not before all appeals are done). But on top of the $112 million, many of the attorneys will also be claiming fees (typically around 35%) from players’ individual awards (if they ever receive anything over the 65 year term of the agreement).

Late last week, retired NFL players Gale Sayers, Lem Barney, Thomas Skladany, Thomas Vaughn, Jerry Rush, Kenneth Callicutt, and Eric Hipple filed a complaint in US District Court in Pennsylvania against the law firms of Hausfeld, LLP, Zimmerman Reed, LLP, Locks Law Firm, LLC, Bondurant, Mixson, & Elmore, LLP, and Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison & Norwood, P.C. The retired players are seeking a declaratory judgment against any liens or potential liens those law firms may have on any potential monetary awards those players might receive from the NFL concussion lawsuit settlement offer. The suit was filed by Arthur Goldman and Shawn Rodgers of Arthur Goldman LLC for the law firm of Cummings, McClorey, Davis, & Acho, PLC which has been representing many in this group of players over the years.

We’ve uploaded a copy of the filing to Scribd for easy reading and downloading. Click on the Enlarge button in the lower right corner to enlarge in another tab for easier viewing. Continue reading