New NFL lawsuits jeopardize earlier settlement over use of images

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2013 - 8:48 PM

More former players are opting out of a $50 million agreement over use of their names and images, but a judge warns the latest suits are complicating the issue.

The number of former National Football League players who are objecting to a $50 million settlement over the league’s longtime use of their names and images without compensation seems to be growing.

But a federal judge in St. Paul complained loudly Wednesday over how they are going about it.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson criticized lawyers for former NFL players Curley Culp and the late Jack Tatum, saying their new lawsuits were jeopardizing a proposed settlement the judge is overseeing. The two new lawsuits together have more than 500 former NFL players as plaintiffs, including many well-known players such as John Riggins, Forrest Gregg and former Vikings stars Joe Kapp and Ron Yary.

“I see this thing, and I will tell you counsel, it just plain shocks my conscience,” the judge said. “I don’t like it.”

Former NFL players had until Aug. 30 to opt out of the proposed settlement, but a list of how many have done so has not yet been made public. The new lawsuits were the clearest sign that the number of those opting out is at least in the hundreds — the league has roughly 20,000 retired players — and might climb higher. The more players who formally opt out, and complain that the settlement reached in March is flawed and the $50 million is not enough, the more the settlement could be in jeopardy.

“There’s been an explosion of opt outs since the filing of the Culp case,” Dan Gustafson, an attorney representing the settlement, told the judge Wednesday.

Magnuson said the new lawsuits were only confusing an already complicated issue, and said a former player might not be officially opted out “until I say you’re opted out.” The judge told lawyers who have filed the newest lawsuits that “I am really concerned that you have got the cart before the horse.”

Magnuson said he planned to issue a ruling Thursday to try to clarify the issue.

The issue of compensation has split many former NFL players — with former stars Jim Brown and Irv Cross, the former co-host of the CBS’ “NFL Today” pregame show, endorsing the settlement and others such as Roman Gabriel and Dave Casper opposing it.

The NFL has an estimated $9.5 billion in annual revenues and NFL Films owns more than 100 million feet of game film.

Attorneys for the disgruntled former players have also pointed to popular NFL Films shows such as ”Big Blocks and King Size Hits”, which among other images shows Tatum hitting the Vikings’ Sammy White during Super Bowl XI and knocking his helmet off.

Jason Shipp, an attorney representing the Tatum lawsuit, said the legal action was filed in Pittsburgh where one of the NFL’s most often-shown plays occurred — the so-called “Immaculate Reception” by Franco Harris that involved Tatum and led to a decisive Pittsburgh Steelers touchdown.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Pittsburgh - WP: B. Morris 8 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: S. LeCure 7
Atlanta 0 Postponed
Philadelphia 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Postponed
NY Yankees 0
Tampa Bay 0 Postponed
Baltimore 0
Cleveland 0 Postponed
Detroit 0
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - WP: T. Koehler 11
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Leake 7
Seattle - LP: B. Beavan 0 FINAL
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 5
St. Louis - WP: S. Miller 6 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Estrada 1
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 1 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 2
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 4 FINAL
Houston - LP: L. Harrell 2
Toronto - WP: A. Loup 9 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 3
NY Mets - WP: J. Mejia 9 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. Arroyo 0
Oakland 10 Top 11th Inning
LA Angels 9
Colorado - WP: J. Nicasio 3 FINAL
San Diego - LP: R. Erlin 2
Los Angeles 2 Top 10th Inning
San Francisco 2
New York 109 FINAL
Brooklyn 98
Denver 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 117
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13




question of the day

Poll: Will you boo Jared Allen when he returns with the Bears?

Weekly Question