MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – The NFL’s anticompetitive contract injures retired football players “who depend on the NFL for health and retirement benefits,” a class led by Carl Eller and Priest Holmes claims in Federal Court.
Claiming that the NFL’s contracts “drastically reduce prospective player compensation levels and benefit levels for retired or former players,” the retired players seek an antitrust injunction against the NFL and its member teams, claiming that the lockout violates the Sherman Act.
As the retirees filed their complaint Monday, the class of active NFL players, led by Tom Brady, filed a reply memorandum in support of their motion for a preliminary injunction against the lockout.
The class in the new complaint includes retired and former players “who receive health, retirement or other benefits from the NFL pursuant to the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan” and potential rookie players “who have not previously commenced negotiation with the NFL” or “have not been selected in the NFL College Draft.”
The NFL Player Retirement Plan includes retirement benefits, total and permanent disability benefits, line-of-duty disability benefits and death benefits. The Player Retirement Plan’s funds are provided by the NFL clubs and can be terminated if no collective bargaining agreement has been in effect for more than a year.
If no new CBA is created in a year, service programs for retirees could stop, as many of the programs are sponsored by the NFL Player Care Foundation and The Professional Athletes Foundation – which obtain funding from fines from players who commit rules violations.
The players say the NFL has a monopoly.
“The owners’ collective purpose in imposing the lockout is to ensure the continuance of the league’s illegally obtained monopoly and the profits derived therefrom by forcing the non-unionized NFL prospective, active and former players to agree to wage, revenue and benefit reductions and anticompetitive restrictions,” the complaint states.
The former players cite a statement attributed to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “[Owners] needed to realistically assume they were locking out in 2011 to obtain a CBA that worked for them.”
The class is represented by Mark Feinberg with Zelle, Hoffmann Voelbel & Mason.