Players Association ordered to pay retirees $28.1m
A federal jury in San Francisco yesterday ordered the NFL Players Association to pay $28.1 million to retired players after finding the union failed to properly market their images.
The figure includes $21 million in punitive damages, just short of the $21.9 million award the players' lawyer had asked of the jury to reflect roughly 10 percent of the union's net worth at the start of the year.
A union lawyer had urged the jury to award a far lesser amount so as not to damage the union's ability to represent its members.
Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of 2,056 retired players who contend the union failed to actively pursue marketing deals on their behalf with video games, trading cards, and others sports products.
Lawyers representing Adderley and the retired players told the jury during the nearly three-week trial that the union actively sought to cut them out of licensing deals so active players could receive bigger royalty payments.
Yesterday, the retirees' lawyer, Ronald Katz, urged the jury to punish the union to "change their conduct."
Katz said longtime union chief Gene Upshaw and his deputy "betrayed the trust of their members" by neglecting the retired players, who pay $50 a year to keep their union membership. Upshaw died of cancer in August.
Hasselbeck set to startMatt Hasselbeck is ready to make his first start in six weeks Sunday when the Seahawks play first-place Arizona. There's no indication that another top-flight quarterback, the Bengals' Carson Palmer, will play again this season.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Hasselbeck, his three-time Pro Bowler, will practice with the starting offense and that he plans on him starting at home against the Cardinals, who own a commanding lead in the NFC West.
It would be Hasselbeck's first game since he hyperextended his right knee in a loss at the Giants Oct. 5. A surgeon in Los Angeles found that a bulging disk in Hasselbeck's back was affecting a nerve and weakening the knee.
With seven games left for the Bengals, the team acknowledged yesterday that Palmer will miss his fifth straight game because of an injured passing elbow. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start against the Eagles Sunday.
Palmer hurt the elbow during a 26-23 overtime loss to the Giants in the third week of the season and played in only one more game. He has been doing rehabilitation work to try to get the elbow healthy enough to play again this season. During the team's bye weekend, Palmer went back to California and had the elbow checked. He said through a team spokesman yesterday that nothing had changed.
Barnett, McKenzie doneDefensive starters Nick Barnett of Green Bay and Mike McKenzie of New Orleans will miss the rest of the season with knee injuries.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said yesterday that linebacker Barnett tore a right knee ligament in Sunday's game against the Vikings, which the Packers lost, 28-27.
It's a major blow to an already-suspect defense that gave up 192 yards rushing to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
McKenzie fractured his right kneecap Sunday and Saints coach Sean Payton said he will have surgery this week and be placed on injured reserve. The Saints claimed recently released Washington corner Leigh Torrence off waivers.