Retirees win NFLPA suit

Screen Actors Guild national exec director Doug Allen’s former union — the NFL Players Assn. — has come out on the losing end of a lawsuit accusing the NFLPA of failing to properly market retired pro football players.

A San Francisco federal court jury on Monday awarded the retired players $28 million, including $21 million in punitive damages, after finding that the union had breached its contract with the retirees, violated its fiduciary obligations and acted contrary to the interests of the players.

An attorney for the NFLPA called the award a “complete miscarriage of justice” and predicted that the award would be overturned on appeal.

Allen, who served as the No. 2 exec at the NFLPA for two decades before joining SAG early last year, testified for three days during the three-week trial. He was the principal witness for the union since longtime NFLPA chief Gene Upshaw died in August.

Allen wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The suit was filed last year by Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley on behalf of 2,056 retired players. He asserted the NFLPA failed to actively pursue marketing deals on their behalf with Electronic Arts, maker of the “Madden NFL” videogames, along with other sponsorship agreements.

The union’s defense centered on the contention that companies such as EA were interested in making deals only with active players. Allen testified during the trial that making deals for retired players was difficult because several former star players such as Joe Namath refused to participate.

During the trial, lawyers representing the retirees presented a 2001 letter from the NFLPA telling EA to scramble the images of retired players in the Madden videogame, resulting in only active players receiving the licensing fees.

“This was a betrayal by the union,” said Peter Parcher, an attorney for the retirees.

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