Jury Awards Retired Players $28.1 Million in Parrish, et al. v. NFLPA

Posted November 10th, 2008 by RetiredPlayers

After three weeks of testimony a jury awarded over 2,000 retired NFL players $28.1 million in a lawsuit regarding the licensing of their images.  The jury said the union breached its fiduciary duty to the retired players and violated the terms of the players’ group licensing agreements.  $7.1 million was awarded in actual damages and an award of $21 million was given for punitive damages.  The purpose of a jury awarding punitive damages is to punish a defendant and to deter a defendant and others from committing similar acts in the future.  Punitive damages may be awarded only if defendant’s conduct was malicious, or in reckless disregard of plaintiff’s rights.

A jury comprised of eight women and two men listened to three weeks of detailed testimony regarding the operations of the NFLPA and Players Inc.  NFL Hall of Famer Herb Adderley served as the plaintiffs’ class representative and sat through five and a half hours of testimony each day wearing his yellow NFL Hall of Fame coat.  Herb is 69 years old.  Adderley’s teammate and fellow NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr made the trip from his home in Alabama to hear closing arguments in the case.  Many other retired players attended court sessions to lend support to the plaintiffs.

“I won three Super Bowls and this feels better than all of them combined,” Adderley said immediately after the verdict was announced. “I always felt I had one big play left.”

Adderley was said to have wept as the verdict was read.

“This verdict is a great victory for the men who devoted their lives to building professional football,” said Lew LeClair, one of the attorneys for the retired players. “We are thankful the jury decided to right this wrong.”

Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the union, said, “The decision is contrary to the law and it’s an unjust verdict and we are confident it will be overturned.”

Last month Kessler incorrectly predicted the jury would reject the plaintiffs’ claims.

NFLPA Interim Executive Director Richard Berthelsen said the union will first ask the judge to reverse the verdict and will appeal the decision if that’s unsuccessful.

“We felt we had to send a message that the union needs to represent and protect all its members,” said Susan Smith, part of the 10-person jury that voted unanimously in favor of the retirees. “We felt the players’ union didn’t do that.”

21 Responses to “Jury Awards Retired Players $28.1 Million in Parrish, et al. v. NFLPA”

  1. comment number 1 by: Greg Larson

    Who will share in recieving this settlement? Do all retired players share or is it just a seleted few?

  2. comment number 2 by: Warren Bankston

    Which 2,000 plus players benefit from the decision? In other words, how does a former player get a list of the recipients of the award? I may be on the list, but I’m not sure.


    Warren Bankston
    Steelers ’69-’72
    Raiders ’73-’78

  3. comment number 3 by: Chuck Mercein

    First of all, congratulations to my good friend and Green Bay Packers teammate, Herb Adderley, and to Bernie Parrish and all others who persevered in this case and won this victory for all the retired players who are involved. As another good friend of mine and New York Giants teammate, Greg Larson, has also asked this morning, I too am curious to know if a list of players might be made available of those who will be eligible to receive a portion of this reward, once the verdict has, hopefully , been successfully upheld through the appeals process. I remember signing on with Players Inc. as far as a licensing agreement was concerned but that was the last I heard from them, a story which I am sure I share with most of the other retired players who may be be effected by this case.

  4. comment number 4 by: DERAL D. TETEAK





  5. comment number 5 by: larry willingham

    i’d also like to see the list.
    cardinals ’71-72

  6. comment number 6 by: Tom Sorensen

    Many of us here in S. Florida signed the agreement and never heard another thing about it. How do we find out who is on the recipient list?

    NFLPA Founding President Retired
    South Florida/Carolina
    NFL Alumni South Florida Vice President
    Saints,Falcons,Steelers,Alouettes 67-70
    786 877 3356

  7. comment number 7 by: Terence L. Wells

    I would a copy of the list of recipients. I played with the Houston Oilers and Green Bay Packers.

    Terry Wells

  8. comment number 8 by: George Nock

    I receive cards to sign at least once a week. I know they are still printing them. It’s been a very long time since 1970.
    Am I on the list?
    JETS ’69-71, REDSKINS ’72-73


  9. comment number 9 by: Dave Pear


    Thank you for ALL your support in this victory for retired players. The language in the courts found the union (NFLPA) to be guilty of such phrases as “malicious and oppressive conduct with evil motive” and “conduct that was outrageous and grossly FRAUDULENT”!!

    Please keep in mind this is our union the NFLPA. Gene Upshaw has been referred to as a “benevolent shepherd” by some of the press. In light of this recent conviction of fraud they might want to kindly rethink their statements! His legacy will be contrary to a benevolent shepherd. He proved himself by his actions to be a ruthless enemy of retired and disabled players!


    Dave & Heidi Pear

  10. comment number 10 by: jon hohman

    l believe if you signed up for the promotion you will be on the list…Jon hohman Denver 65-67

  11. comment number 11 by: Earl Thomas

    The verdict was wonderfull.Now I have two questions,who determines how much the lawyers make for two weeks work and if they are guilty now,what about future monies for these same players because they will continue to sell players and their images.
    Earl Thomas
    Bears 17073
    Football Cardinals 1974-75

  12. comment number 12 by: Bob Hyland

    No one has ever looked better in that gold Hall of Fame jacket than you. In many ways its a perfect fit.
    Congratulations to you and the team that won this case.
    Your old Packer teammate, Bob Hyland

  13. comment number 13 by: Jim Bradshaw

    Congratulations to the men who took on the establishment. You did the right thing. This is the first step in gaining a strong position in the NFLPA that is “ours” to start with. Don’t stop now with this settlement. Go for what is rightfully ours. “We are all members of the NFLPA both active and retired together”. Brothers united. Jim Bradshaw. Pittsburgh Steelers, (63/67)

  14. comment number 14 by: Chet Hanulak

    I appreciate the efforts that have been made on behalf of the older players who basically started the National football leaque. We are fortunate to have had the most incredible and unforgetable opportunity to play for the greatest professional sport. This discrimination against the early years has been hurtful and disappointing to all of us older players who played for the love of the sport, not for the rewards the players receive today. Thank you for standing up for the old timers. We are and always will be a part of this special NFL family. Keep up the good work and keep us informed. Cleveland Browns 1954-1957 November 11, 2008

  15. comment number 15 by: Chet Hanulak

    Thank you for righting a wrong.

  16. comment number 16 by: Dave Stalls

    Congratulations for your diligence and effort. Legal struggles like this one versus two powerhouses are no easy task. Isn’t it strange that I’ve seen nothing about this in the Denver press. Has it been in the national press or is the media not wanting to piss off their gravy train. Others had good questions about next steps in the struggle to force the NFL and NFLPA to prioritize the needs of retired players.
    Dave Stalls
    Cowboys, 77-79; Bucs, 80-83; Raiders, 83, 85; USFL Denver Gold, 84

  17. comment number 17 by: John J. Kompara


  18. comment number 18 by: Cecil Turner

    I played with the Chicago Bears 1968-1973. My team mate Bob
    Wallace have been on disabilty and was turned down by the players association
    when he applied for disability through the association. Great job Herb and thanks a lot.
    How will the retired players know if they are included.

  19. comment number 19 by: greg bracelin

    I played for 5 yrs and went through the 1982 strike and I still believe in the team concept. Shouldn’t all of us be included in this process. Thanks

  20. comment number 20 by: Dennis Homan

    Will you send the list out to all former players? I’ve never seen it, and what is the criteria for being on the list? Thanks, Dennis Homan
    Dallas 1968-70
    Kansas City 1971-72

  21. comment number 21 by: Monte Johnson

    I signed a GLA. How do I find out if my name is on the list and/or included in the settlement?

    Raiders – ’73-’80