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If hours at the negotiation table indicate progress, the NFL's owners and the players must be getting closer to ending the lockout. But among those concerned that their interests have not been recognized by either the owners or the current players are the NFL's retired players.
On Monday, as the NFL's players and owners prepared once more to attempt to find their way out of the lockout imposed by the owners in March, another county was heard from. A group of retired NFL players filed a complaint, alleging that the current players and the owners have already agreed on one thing: namely, that the retired players could whistle for their benefits, because the exclusive concern of the two allegedly negotiating sides is how they are going to split $9 billion between them.
In March, after the Players Association disbanded and a group of active players sued the league for antitrust violations, a group of retired players filed a lawsuit of their own, by which means representatives of that group got Judge Susan Richard Nelson to include them in the first mediation sessions.
But the representatives of the retired players have not been included in more recent meetings, and that has led their attorney, Michael Hausfeld, to conclude that the league and the active players "are conspiring to depress amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former NFL players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current NFL players."
Maybe the owners and players are doing that.
If so, they're collectively dumber than anyone could have previously supposed. The NFL only recently acknowledged that there just might be a connection between getting hit in the head being a lot at work and finding yourself in a considerably diminished state a few years into retirement. Or not finding yourself at all.
This recognition suggests at least some minimal appreciation for the harm one can do to one's image by smugly ignoring the obvious collateral damage necessary to the accumulation of one's vast wealth. Now are the owners and players "conspiring," as Carl Eller, Ryan Collins, et al have formally suggested, to continue the tradition of stiffing the hobbled and disoriented retirees?
The fact of the lockout argues that the owners and players don't have sense enough to conspire to cross the street together without mishap, but whether or not they're guilty, as the retired players have charged, the contending parties have been presented with an opportunity. They can do the right thing and win some public relations points by responding to Monday's law suit by mutually pledging a multimillion-dollar slice of their multibillion-dollar cash cow to the neediest among the former players, no matter the eventual disposition of the rest of the beast.
This program aired on July 7, 2011.
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