Why We Oppose the NFL Settlement – Fred Dryer and the original plaintiffs

By Fred Dryer, Elvin Bethea, Dan Pastorini, Jim Marshall, Ed White, & Joe Senser 

Examining NFL Films’ development, history, and operations offers a useful way to consider how the National Football League established and maintains its now profoundly powerful image.  NFL Films helped to transform the league from an only moderately popular professional sport into the cultural monolith we know as ‘America’s Game.” –  Travis Vogan, Historians, Storytellers, Mythmakers: NFL Films and the Pro Football Experience, 2011 

We initiated our case against the NFL four years ago because we believed that, as former professional football players, our publicity rights have been unrecognized and uncompensated. The NFL has grown into America’s largest sports organization significantly because of the way it has utilized film of our on-field performances in NFL Films to make the game #1. 

We believe that retired players have a clear case to have our valuable publicity rights recognized and compensated. Other industries like film and music compensate for the ongoing use of publicity rights. We should be paid too. 

The NFL’s proposed settlement is, in our view, completely unfair. We are passionate about fighting this deal. We refuse to give up, and here’s why. 

What can you expect to receive personally in this deal? Possibly nothing! What do you give up? Your right to get paid for the NFL’s use of your image to promote NFL football – forever!  And not only your image, but your name, nickname, appearance, footage and photographs of you, likeness, animation, biography, persona, and voice. 

All the money in the settlement goes to third party charities and none of it directly to retired players. Will you get a benefit from those charities? There’s no way you can know.

All you can do is hope. Will you make any money from the Licensing Agency? There’s no way to know that either! You can only hope.

There is one thing we know for sure about this deal: we might get nothing for giving up our rights forever. This deal is not fair to retired players.

We can’t agree with a deal where:

  • We give up our rights forever.
  • We aren’t guaranteed to receive anything.
  • We don’t have any information to know what NFL Films are worth. 

We want a fair deal for all retired players. A deal that includes a direct, defined benefit to everyone in the class. A deal with assured benefits, not just hope.

You have the choice to accept the settlement, object to the settlement, or opt out of the settlement. Doing nothing counts as a “yes” vote for the settlement and binds you to its terms if it is approved. If you want to say “no,” there are two choices to tell the NFL and the Court you don’t like the settlement: opt out or object. Get as much information as you can to figure out what is best for you. Read the notice you got in the mail and look at the notice website https://nflretireepublicitysettlement.com/.  The notice lays out what you need to do for each option. Find out more about our views at our website www.dryervnfl.com.    

If you’re represented by a lawyer in this case, talk to that lawyer. August 30 is the deadline for making your choice. 

A handful of people are saying we should just take this deal because we might lose the case if we keep fighting. When did any of us walk off the field just because we might lose?  Never! We suggest you be careful about what you read and hear from the people promoting this deal. For us, there is one key question: “On the day the deal is done – and we give up our rights forever – what benefit do we get?” Listen closely to the answers. We have not heard any guarantees. Instead, we have heard that we “might” get insurance or have “potential” for licensing income. 

To us, these answers just say “maybe” each player will get something. But there’s no guarantee that any one of us will get a dime from this settlement. 

We did not bring and fight this case so that our brothers might give up their rights for nothing! That’s why we will continue to fight this deal.


About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on July 4, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I am sending my opt out letter today. My question is, will all of the players that opt out join together on another class action suit?

  2. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your opinion. I too will opt out of the settlement agreement. We will give up our right to our image and name forever for a hope. I believe too, we should all stand to benefit along with taking care of those less fortunate. We should fight for a better revised agreement. We can all stand to benefit if we can incorporate a settlement to include affordable medical coverage for all of us. God knows we all need it.
    Vince Ferragamo
    LA Rams, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills

  3. > if we can incorporate a settlement to include affordable medical coverage for all of us. God knows we all need it. <

    great point vinny…as we all know that particular line item cost ( inusrance ) will no doubt continue to sky rocket in the future ( mostly due to currency debasement aka money printing ) and having a vested interest in controlling said escalation is no doubt better suited in a power structure like the NFL than being fractured into millions of individual people

    that being said it must be an option NOT single defined benefit where as a player can " custom fit " his choice from a series of different options so as to avoid where there are no other options for example when a player has a spouse working where as one of her benefits is family heath insurance and he would have the latitude to make a different choice of benefit

    gregg bingham

  4. It’s pretty simple…they have it all, we have nothing….without our images there is and will be no history to market and without our participation over the developing years there is nothing….therefore, they owe us the fair compensation or percentage of the revenue that has been collected over the years and I am certain that there is case law to prove that we are entitled to that compensation like the entertainment industry does with its Unions. Doesn’t our Union have the cahones to take the owners to task, oh, I forgot…..they negotiated their rights away….how come they have not picked up the cause of the Retired Players Efforts in fighting for our rights…oh, I forgot….they did the same thing……screwed us for year….however, those that had signed a licensing agreement got damages from them….can you say D Smith jumped on the 28 million dollar settlement like a Bum on a Bologna Sandwich ….don’t you think he knew what they really owed us……
    I would like to think and believe after following the momentum of this case over the years, that the NFL would do the right thing for its warriors…..they can spin a good yarn…y’all….the Common Good Fund…..The Charities are funded….the Marketing Team and Management Team that will be assembled….the Chump Change that they are throwing at us and we are supposed to take the bait…..what’s on the Hook…..We are….. again!
    Look, I played the game a long time and understand that I loved to play….that’s not the issue although the NFL took advantage of that Love of the game for a long time….. the issue that I have is that they denied us the right to do business with the standard contract that was proven to be in violation of our constitutional rights in 1993. All this is…..it’s Business…we are on the film, they have marketed our images and continue to sell “The History” of the NFL and fortunately for us and not for them it’s a team sport and they have to include all of us…I’m a simple minded person and what’s right is right and even a “Blind Squirrel find a NUT once and a while”.
    Opt Out!

  5. Hi Jeff,

    I agree with everything you wrote and all comments. Thanks for your hard work!

    Side comment – I find it almost ignorant the judge and our attorneys believes the settlement process is fair.

    How many retired players are not free to voice their OPT-OUT conscience if they work for a NFL team, NFL TV network, NFL radio partner, NFL media outlet, product supplier to NFL, NFL charity, or any other organization doing business with the NFL?

    I would bet the number of players who cannot vote to OPT-OUT for political reasons is statistically significant.

    The NFLPA has been rather silent on the settlement. Wonder if NFLPA employees, associates, or insiders are politically free to voice their conscience? Just wondering…

    The unfairness of this settlement process runs deep!

    I opted out.

    Thanks again,
    Rick Eber
    Falcons & Chargers 68-72

  6. Lance Rentzel

    I couldn’t agree more with these comments, and they articulate everything that needs to be said. I urge every retired player to opt-out as soon as possible — because if you miss this deadline, you’re going to come out of the fog sometime in the future, and recognize what a huge mistake you’ve made. And you won’t be able to do anything about it.

  7. NFL is a billion dollar business fellas!Some of these owners spend 23 million on a horse bet at the Kentucky Dirby!I don’t even know if I’m in the damn suit but if I were I would opt out.FOR THE GUYS WHO AREN’T OPTING OUT DIE ON YOUR FEET BEFORE YOU LIVE ON YOUR KNEES!!

  8. I agree we get nothing, and I don’t want the law suit settled as it now stands. giving to charity is a joke because no one knows who that is. Rip Hawkins. Riphawk@aol.com

  9. Charity begins at home and I know that not one of those charities is in a NFL film. We need to be personally compensated for all of the years that the NFL has used us to promote the game. It sounds great to give money to charity but give me the money and I will make the decision of which charity I want to support if any. I don’t want a committee of former players deciding my future I will do that myself. This settlement is a joke and the league knows it so fellas it would be a benefit to yourselves if you opted out of this fiasco, I did.

  10. Is anyone really going to support this comedy thats being presented as a Settlement? I have opted out and believe that most of the fellas who actually get the message will as well. Of the 2,500 retirees that I am in touch with I have not heard of a single one who supports this fiasco. (except Irv, Ron, Jim and those other boys who are with Mike Hausfeld esq.)

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