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Judge Certifies One Of Two Classes Of NFL Retirees

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge granted class certification to retired NFL players who signed a group licensing agreement with the NFL's labor union, but claim the union failed to distribute any of the profits made from their names, images and biographies.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup called the licensing agreement "a masterpiece of obfuscation" that "raises more questions than it answers," such as how retired players are paid and which players are entitled to payment.

"Even though many have signed up, very few have received anything under the (licensing agreements), it now appears," the judge wrote.

He certified the first of two classes that retired players Bernard Parrish, Herbert Adderley and Walter Roberts III moved to certify: all retired NFL players who signed licensing agreements with the National Football League Players Association and Players Inc., and all NFL players who joined the union.

The judge determined that the first class had legitimate claims, but refused to certify the second class because Parrish is not an adequate representative. Among other things, he and Adderley solicited $5,500 from retired players on behalf of their now-defunct organization, Retired Professional Football Players for Justice, and then allowed the company to fold without accounting for the money.

"Parrish's vindictive remarks aimed at defendants, the racial slurs in several of his statements, his stated unwillingness to ever settle this case, and his blemished track record of representing retired NFL players - all demonstrate that he cannot be trusted to fulfill his fiduciary duty to the proposed class."

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