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Rooney on settlement, Worilds' readiness

Posted Mar 18, 2013

The sexy stuff, the debate and the vote on some proposed rules changes, doesn’t take place until Tuesday. That’s when the NFL owners who have assembled in Phoenix this week will decide on the tuck rule, and some possible tweaks to instant replay, and prohibiting running backs from lowering their heads when they encounter defensive players outside the tackle box. Those are the things that draw most fans’ interest.

But what happened on Monday was a good thing. What happened on Monday is going to help some people who need it.

The NFL and a group of its well-known retired players stood together to announce the settlement of a class action lawsuit challenging the use of retired player images in NFL Films footage and seeking compensation for such uses. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Minneapolis in 2009, and the settlement means the NFL will contribute $42 million to a newly established Common Good Fund that will be administered by a group of retired players and used to support retired players who are struggling.

“We see this as a very positive step that will help promote our retired players, our game and will ultimately be very beneficial for our retired players long term,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the settlement announcement.

For nearly a full calendar year, Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan has been actively involved in supervising the settlement process and helped the parties reach an agreement.

“We settled a case with our retired players, which is significant from the standpoint that we’ve got more litigation going on than we would like, and to get one piece of this out of the way is a big thing,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “To have a group of retired players come in and express their appreciation and their interest in working together, that’s an important piece of the puzzle of what we’re going to get done moving forward here.”

Immediately moving forward, in terms of the the agenda for the meetings, Rooney said he expected to attend a presentation by the Competition Committee on all of the proposed rules changes before the close of business on Monday, with voting to come on most of those proposals during the day on Tuesday.

But as it has been throughout this offseason, whenever Rooney, or General Manager Kevin Colbert, or Coach Mike Tomlin has faced the media recently, it hasn’t taken long for the subject to get around to James Harrison. And as it also was on this occasion, on whether Jason Worilds is ready to step in and fill a position that has been manned by the likes of Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, and then Harrison.

“Jason will certainly have an opportunity this year, and we’ll see how he does with it,” said Rooney. “You never know. Over the years, we certainly have had players that when they were given their opportunity, like James was, they stepped forward and really did a great job. Jason has certainly shown flashes of being a great pass rusher. So he’ll certainly have an opportunity to show what he can do this year.”

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