While it remains to be seen whether he can work with the NFL to create a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to replace the one set to expire after this season, new NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is already having a positive impact on other fronts.
Smith and the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the NFLPA held a joint press conference on June 5, 2009 to announce a settlement in that litigation.
Specifically, the NFLPA agreed to drop its appeal of a $28.1 million judgment, which was recently awarded by a jury after it found that more than 2,000 retired NFL players were denied royalties associated with the use of their likeness in video games.
Chad Hummel, an attorney with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, which represented the NFLPA along with the Dallas-based McKool law firm, suggested that “the jury’s verdict in favor of the retired players and ultimate resolution of this case under new players’ union leadership should be the first important step in the healing process that needs to happen between retired players and their union. For a very long time, retired NFL players were not even an afterthought in the big business of licensing player rights.”
Hall of Fame defensive back Herb Adderley, who was the public face for the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press that Smith’s presence had an impact on reaching the settlement.
“I’m very encouraged, because the other administration wouldn’t return calls or listen to most of the retired players, including myself,” Adderley said. “Let this be the precedent that sets the stage for all the retired players to come together, and hopefully we can have the current players to come in with us, and we have peace.”