Dec. 28, 2014
“OPTING OUT” IS TOO DANGEROUS A RISK TO TAKE
As I’m sure some of you have noticed, the 7 objectors to the settlement—and their attorneys—have been making a lot of noise lately. It seems that, after the Third Circuit refused to hear their appeal, they are now waging a media and email blitz to try and recruit more objectors or opt outs. I’m sure that I am not the only one to have come across their misleading arguments in the last few days.
If you ask me, the fact that the objectors have resorted to such tactics means that they are grasping at straws. The Third Circuit Court has already denied their legal arguments, so now they are attempting to create confusion and unrest among retired players in hopes of undermining a settlement that so many retired players will need to rely upon, either today or in the future.
It’s only the latest time the settlement has come under attack by this tiny group of retired players and their lawyers who tried to speak for all of us, even though they didn’t join the thousands who stepped up and sued the league in the first place.
The worst part is that these provocative, misleading tactics aren’t even necessary. Judge Brody has already said that she intends to give the objectors’ arguments fair and thorough consideration at the fairness hearing this November. If after that hearing she determines that the settlement is not fair, reasonable and adequate for ALL of us, then she will act to make things right—just like she did in January.
For now, however, the most important decision about this settlement is ours to make. Retired players should not opt out of this deal. This settlement isn’t perfect, but it’s still a very good deal that gives us a far better outcome than we could have ever hoped to get by continuing to litigate.
Let’s not forget the NFL’s own actuaries have told us. They predict that retired players have a nearly 3 in 10 chance of developing dementia or worse. As I wrote last month: “Under this agreement, we all get medical assessments to help us reduce that risk if at all possible. The 3 in 10 of us who end up getting sick, get paid. The 7 in 10 of us who don’t should be counting our lucky stars that we didn’t get sick!”
In light of those statistics, “opting out” means nothing less than taking the risk of a lifetime. Those who opt out will be permanently, totally forbidden from collecting benefits under this agreement. They will then face the full might of the NFL’s well-paid legal team, and they will do so alone—without the strength-in-numbers that helped us get this settlement in the first place.
And you don’t have to take this from me: Arthur Miller, a law professor at New York University, warned players about the risks of opting out or objecting in a recent op-ed:
“For any player to opt out of this settlement and pursue litigation on his own seems foolish. It is highly likely that anyone going it alone would lose in court and end up with nothing. And although opt-outs and objections are common in class-action settlements, any unsuccessful objector who appeals would hold up benefits for every retired player.”
It looks like the retired player community agrees. According to court records, only 9 former players have opted out of the NFL Concussion Settlement. Let me repeat that: 9 opt outs. Out of 20,000 class members. That’s a tiny .00045% of the settlement class - a pretty strong indication that the vast majority of former players are in favor of the Settlement.
I fully respect the right of every retired player to make his own choice, but I also feel a duty to voice my opinion, which is that opting out is the wrong decision.
This settlement may not give us everything, but it does give us everything we fought for when we began this lawsuit. I am afraid that those who try and fight for more will risk losing it all.
If you would like to comment on this issue, please go to the open forum and post your thoughts at the following website: http://www.playerinjury.com/discussion/
Check out what some of your teammates have already said.