NFL Talks Faces Possible Snag

When once there were two sides, now there are three?

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

By all appearances, we are inching ever closer to having football back in time for the regular season. The two sides have been meeting furiously over the past few weeks and are close to hammering out a deal by the scheduled beginning of training camps. But, as is often the case, a new snag has arisen that threatens to slow down the talks.

There is a third side wanting a voice and a seat at these proceedings.

Apparently, the retired NFL players feel that they are being done a disservice by not being involved in the current labor talks. They feel that the owners and the current players are thinking about themselves first with any talks concerning the retiree's part of the cash cow being nothing more than an afterthought. In fact, they feel so strongly about this that they have petitioned the courts to let them have their say.

Yep, just what is needed, more court involvement.

A group of former players led by Hall of Famers Carl Eller, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen and Paul Krause filed a class-action complaint against the owners and current players in federal court Monday, saying they have been excluded from the mediation sessions taking place in an attempt to end the lockout. They are asking U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson to put a halt to the mediation she ordered and declare that the current players cannot negotiate on behalf of those who are retired.

"Through the settlement they are forging, the Brady plaintiffs, the NFLPA and the NFL defendants are conspiring to set retiree benefits and pension levels at artificially low levels," the complaint alleged.

The retiree's feel that that NFL owners, the NFL Players' Association, and current players are "conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former NFL players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current NFL players."

They are currently seeking their share of the pie for such things as more help for medical treatments of former players and better pensions but have been unable to convey their wishes personally since they have not been allowed a representative at these latest meetings.

If the former players are successful, they will put a halt to the current talks being held until they are allowed a place within these negotiations. If the motion is rejected, they are still hoping to receive money for damages incurred.

The NFL camps are set to open in just 3 short weeks with the first preseason game, the Hall of Fame game, set to kick off on August 7th.