Opting back into the NFL Publicity Rights Settlement

By Jeff Nixon
Sep. 20, 2017

As most of you know, the NFL Publicity Rights Settlement (Dryer v NFL) received final approval last year.

In a July 19, 2016 letter from the FGA (Football Greats Alliance) Board of Directors, they told former players “We hope this message finds you well. We are writing to provide an update on our efforts related to the Retired Players Licensing Agency (now called the “Football Greats Alliance”) and Greater Good Fund. It is with great pleasure that we notify you that the court of appeals has affirmed (and the Supreme Court will not review) the ruling approving the Dryer et. al class-action settlement between nearly 22,000 NFL Retirees and the NFL to resolve the NFL’s use of former NFL player’s likenesses and identities.”

Not all former players liked the Settlement – including yours truly. I opted out of the Settlement in hopes that we could get a better deal through the appeals process. Click here to see why the original plaintiff’s, Fred Dryer, Elvin Bethea, Dan Pastorini, Jim Marshall, Ed White, & Joe Senser did not like the Settlement either.

According to court records, 2,116 former players opted out of the Dryer Settlement. If you are not sure if you opted out of the Settlement, please check the official court list at this link: Final Opt Out List for Dryer v. NFL.

Former players that opted out of the Settlement are now being given the opportunity to opt back into the Settlement. You can do this by signing the form at this link: Opt-In Form

Once you sign the Opt-in​ form in front of a notary public​, make a copy of that form for your records, and send the original document stamped by the notary to PFRPA’s Senior Director, Joseph Agbasi. The original signed form must be mailed to the following address:

Joseph Agbasi

Pro Football Retired Players Association

1235 S. Clark St. - Suite 314

Arlington, VA 22202

Players that opted out of the Settlement have still reserved the right to sue the NFL over the publicity rights issue, but unless they plan on continuing their litigation against the NFL, I would recommend that they opt back into the Settlement.

I think most of the players that opted out of the Settlement, did so because there was no direct compensation to ALL former players. We also believed that only the players who were in “dire need” would be eligible for benefits under the Settlement’s Greater Good Fund. Remember what Judge Magnuson wrote when he approved the Settlement: "The benefits of this settlement to the class are plain: It will assist those who most need assistance, and will resolve the very problem that this lawsuit seeks to address by allowing former players true access to the value of their rights of publicity."

I think the only reason we are being allowing to opt back into the Settlement is because they have now decided to offer services to ALL former players – not just those who most need assistance.

I can live with that.

So, what’s in it for you?

The Settlement proposed the establishment of a licensing agency to market retired players. Four years ago, IMG was selected as the licensing agency to monetize our names, images, and likenesses through the commercialization of historical NFL footage and other group licensing programs. Approximately 8 million was set aside to establish and support the Licensing initiative, the FGA and the Greater Good Fund.

Over an eight-year period, the NFL will also pour $42 million into the Greater Good Fund (after certain reductions related to litigation by class members who opted out of the settlement).

Who oversees the Greater Good Fund and the Licensing Agency?

The FGA (Football Greats Alliance) board of directors has been tasked with representing the health and welfare interests of all retired NFL players. That board is comprised of the following former players: Jim Brown, Dave Robinson, Jack Youngblood, Mike Haynes, Irv Cross, Billy Joe Dupree and Darrell Thompson.

The FGA website states that the “FGA allows one-stop shopping for companies seeking to leverage retired NFL players for a variety of licensing, marketing and promotional initiatives. The FGA harnesses the power of the game’s legends, offering efficiency in access, pricing and execution. A portion of revenue from FGA partnerships will go toward the Greater Good Fund, which has been established to help support health and welfare programs for retired NFL players.”

The Football Greats Alliance website asks the question: What can FGA do for you?

Their answer: “Through the FGA, 22,000 of the greatest athletes to have played pro football can now be reached in a simple manner by licensees and sponsors, while the players can also engage potential marketing partners. While group licensing is the primary focus of partnerships, the Football Greats Alliance can assist with larger marketing and sponsorship initiatives.”

The Licensing Agency, IMG projected revenues of $500,000+ in year one and $985,000+ in year two. Has anyone received a quarterly report showing the actual revenue generated to date? In their July 19, 2016 letter, the FGA Board said they would send out quarterly reports. How many of you have received those reports?

I hope the the FGA is successful in generating revenue from sponsors and marketing campaigns, but more importantly, I hope ALL former players will benefit from the “health and wellness programs, medical research, screenings and evaluations, short & long term housing and career transition programs” that they discuss in their letter of July 19, 2016.

In the last communication I received from the Board of Directors, they told us that they have negotiated a dental plan with MetLife, which will offer coverage for preventative, basic, and major services. They said the plan would be administered through the Greater Good Fund and will offer services to all former players. They also said "We expect the [Met Life Dental] plan will be available by October 2016.” They are showing the benefits of the deal on their website at this link: Dental Plan Is it available? and how do we get this benefit?

There are thousands of players in my shoes, just trying their best to stay ahead of the medical bills.

Hopefully, the benefits being touted in the Publicity Rights Settlement will begin to pan out soon.

That’s why I’m opting back in.

ps: If you have any questions about the Football Greats Alliance, you can email them at: contactFGA@img.com or Football.Greats.Alliance@gmail.com