Eller, other alumni join court battle

Carl Eller and other NFL alumni have joined the fight to end the lockout. The alumni are joining because their benefits could be affected if the lockout lasts more than a year.

The coming daytime drama in a St. Paul courtroom is getting an unexpected mystery guest – former players concerned that the current "line in the sand" impasse between owners and players will not only drag into the summer, but perhaps into 2012.

As with the 10-man contingent of current players involved in litigation against the league, headed up by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and ably assisted by supporting players Ben Leber and Brian Robison, the former players are saddling up with Hall of Famer Carl Eller to plead the case of NFL alumni – who retired when they had a union, not a trade association.

Eller, former Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, former Vikings running back Obafemi Ayandbadejo and Ryan Collins, who played his college football at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and one year in the NFL in 1999, were named as plaintiffs in a 44-page complaint filed on behalf of former NFL players – seeking class-action status for the members of the former NFLPA.

The former players want the NFL lockout lifted to assure that pensions and heath benefits to the league's trailblazers remain funded. According to the court papers, if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached before March 11, 2012, the benefits provided to the league alumni will be cut off.

The league offers former players retirement, disability (opinions differ to the extent of coverage) and death benefits. The pension plan is subsidized by the league's 32 teams, but can be terminated if a CBA isn't in place for more than one year. The current CBA officially expired March 12. If a new deal isn't struck between now and that date in 2012, all former players would come off the books, according to the filing.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle. Attorneys for the players are hoping that the case will be absorbed into the case being filed by Brady et al in the courtroom of Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

If the case isn't included into the litigation being brought by the current players, it is still expected to move forward as a legal voice being raised for former players and their interests in resolving the current labor impasse.

Shawn Stuckey, a former linebacker for the Patriots and Buccaneers and an attorney representing Eller and the other former players, told The Associated Press that the former players want to show a united front with the current generation of players fighting for their share of the profits in the business of the NFL.

"We thought the best way to remain in solidarity with all the players was to give everyone a voice at the table," Stuckey told the AP. "We wanted to make sure that we're consistent with the goals of all NFL players. We want everyone on the same page. We hope that our efforts from this point forth remain consistent."

Whether the solidarity of current and former players will create the united front needed for Judge Nelson to lift the lockout and return the business of football to the national landscape or not is still up to speculation. But, with all precincts heard from, it is expected that an informed decision – one way or the other – will come from the bench.

TUESDAY NOTES

  • Rookie hazing isn't allowed in the NFL, but Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, who could well end up a Viking if he remains on the board until pick No. 12, may become an exception. In a Q&A interview with The Sporting News, the Fresh Prince of Lincoln was asked what was on his "Bucket List" – a list of things you want to do before you die. He answered start a "Flash Mob" – which has choreographed dance routines in public places. Good luck with getting your NFL teammates to join in on that. Step lightly with the vets.

  • An interesting story briefly hit the NFL's official website late Monday. The story, headlined "Brett Favre could be a Panther?" hinted that Favre is a free agent and may be willing to return for yet another season. However, the story I.D. was hit early Tuesday morning and was no longer available. Apparently, that angle may not have legs. The rumor apparently started Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, who threw out the option in his Sunday column, but the NFL opted to kill the story on its own website after initially relaying the news.

  • The official Brett Favre website is looking to get back in the good graces of Packers fans. One of the new items available for sale is 16x24 or 24x36 photos of Favre and the late Reggie White when both were Packers. It will set buyers back $70 for the small and $150 for the large, but the fence-mending would seem to be on in earnest, adding fuel to the denials of a potential return to the worst team in the league.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.



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    ","mobileBody":" The coming daytime drama in a St. Paul courtroom is getting an unexpected mystery guest – former players concerned that the current \"line in the sand\" impasse between owners and players will not only drag into the summer, but perhaps into 2012. As with the 10-man contingent of current players involved in litigation against the league, headed up by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and ably assisted by supporting players Ben Leber and Brian Robison, the former players are saddling up with Hall of Famer Carl Eller to plead the case of NFL alumni – who retired when they had a union, not a trade association. Eller, former Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, former Vikings running back Obafemi Ayandbadejo and Ryan Collins, who played his college football at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and one year in the NFL in 1999, were named as plaintiffs in a 44-page complaint filed on behalf of former NFL players – seeking class-action status for the members of the former NFLPA. The former players want the NFL lockout lifted to assure that pensions and heath benefits to the league's trailblazers remain funded. According to the court papers, if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached before March 11, 2012, the benefits provided to the league alumni will be cut off. The league offers former players retirement, disability (opinions differ to the extent of coverage) and death benefits. The pension plan is subsidized by the league's 32 teams, but can be terminated if a CBA isn't in place for more than one year. The current CBA officially expired March 12. If a new deal isn't struck between now and that date in 2012, all former players would come off the books, according to the filing. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle. Attorneys for the players are hoping that the case will be absorbed into the case being filed by Brady et al in the courtroom of Judge Susan Richard Nelson. If the case isn't included into the litigation being brought by the current players, it is still expected to move forward as a legal voice being raised for former players and their interests in resolving the current labor impasse. Shawn Stuckey, a former linebacker for the Patriots and Buccaneers and an attorney representing Eller and the other former players, told The Associated Press that the former players want to show a united front with the current generation of players fighting for their share of the profits in the business of the NFL. \"We thought the best way to remain in solidarity with all the players was to give everyone a voice at the table,\" Stuckey told the AP. \"We wanted to make sure that we're consistent with the goals of all NFL players. We want everyone on the same page. We hope that our efforts from this point forth remain consistent.\" Whether the solidarity of current and former players will create the united front needed for Judge Nelson to lift the lockout and return the business of football to the national landscape or not is still up to speculation. But, with all precincts heard from, it is expected that an informed decision – one way or the other – will come from the bench.
  • Rookie hazing isn't allowed in the NFL, but Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, who could well end up a Viking if he remains on the board until pick No. 12, may become an exception. In a Q&A interview with , the Fresh Prince of Lincoln was asked what was on his \"Bucket List\" – a list of things you want to do before you die. He answered start a \"Flash Mob\" – which has choreographed dance routines in public places. Good luck with getting your NFL teammates to join in on that. Step lightly with the vets.
  • An interesting story briefly hit the NFL's official website late Monday. The story, headlined \"Brett Favre could be a Panther?\" hinted that Favre is a free agent and may be willing to return for yet another season. However, the story I.D. was hit early Tuesday morning and was no longer available. Apparently, that angle may not have legs. The rumor apparently started Charley Walters of the , who threw out the option in his Sunday column, but the NFL opted to kill the story on its own website after initially relaying the news.
  • The official Brett Favre website is looking to get back in the good graces of Packers fans. One of the new items available for sale is 16x24 or 24x36 photos of Favre and the late Reggie White when both were Packers. It will set buyers back $70 for the small and $150 for the large, but the fence-mending would seem to be on in earnest, adding fuel to the denials of a potential return to the worst team in the league.
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