NFL settles suit with retired players

The National Football League and a group of well-known retired NFL players announced a settlement today 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. For nearly the past year, Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan has actively supervised the settlement process and helped the parties reach an agreement. In 2011, Judge Boylan worked closely with the NFL and the NFLPA to help resolve their labor dispute, leading to a historic 10-year collective bargaining agreement.

Under the terms of the settlement:

  • The NFL will contribute $42 million over an eight-year period to a newly established Common Good Fund that will be administered by a group of retired players approved by the court. The fund will be used to support organizations that now and in the future provide benefits to retired players, including medical, housing, career transition and other forms of assistance.
  • The settlement also establishes the first-ever independent licensing agency dedicated to the use of retired player publicity rights. The new agency will be overseen by a board of retired players approved by the court and operated separate from the NFL and NFL Players Association. The NFL will, however, provide certain financial and promotional support to the licensing agency. The licensing agency will enable companies to more readily access retired NFL players for use in licensing, sponsorship and other commercial programs.
  • The settlement does not alter the NFL's right to continue to distribute NFL game programming and footage to promote the history and tradition of the NFL.

The announcement was made today in Phoenix at the NFL's annual meeting. Among the retired players on-hand for the announcement were: Fred Barnett, Lem Barney, Jim Brown, Paul Krause, Mike Haynes, Ron Mix, and Jackie Smith.

Dan Gustafson, appointed by the Court as Lead Settlement Counsel for the Plaintiffs, said, "This is a landmark day for retired NFL players. We look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead in having the retired players and the NFL more closely aligned."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "We look forward to building an unprecedented new relationship with retired players that will benefit everybody, especially those who need extra medical or financial assistance."

Retired players can learn more about the terms of the settlement by visiting the settlement website -- -- where they will find a copy of the full settlement agreement, a copy of the Notice and answers to frequently asked questions, including information about the operations of the new licensing agency. They can also call the Settlement Administrator's toll free number at 866-590-8525.

The settlement was submitted today, for preliminary approval, to Judge Paul Magnuson in the Federal District Court of Minnesota.

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