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NFL Retired Players United

Former NFL Player Jeff Nixon keeping former players and fans updated on the issues affecting former AFL and NFL players.

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"The NFL knew of the debilitating effects of these drugs on all of its players and callously ignored the players' long-term health in its obsession to return them to play" - Steven Silverman, attorney for the players

On Friday, July 1, 2016 a new class action lawsuit that names each of the NFL's 32 teams individually was allowed to proceed to the discovery phase when Federal Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss the players' complaint.

Judge Alsup had dismissed a similar lawsuit in December 2014 in which Richard Dent, Jeremy Newberry, Jim McMahon and Roy Green were the lead plaintiffs. In that case, Alsup wrote that the collective bargaining agreement was the proper forum to resolve the players' claims. 

Using the CBA to address players complaints, is commonly referred to as the “Preemption Argument.” In his ruling, the Judge said “this Court is unwilling to categorically immunize defendant clubs’ illegal and indiscriminate distribution of painkillers as alleged in the complaint.

The Judges unwillingness to “immunize” the teams by allowing them to use the Preemption argument is an ironic way for him to describe his ruling. Immunizations are usually administered via an injection into the arm. The injections of Lidocaine that we received before games didn’t immunize us and prevent us from getting sick, they only prevented us from feeling the injuries that got worse because the drugs were masking the pain. 

The NFL team doctors and trainers also anesthetized players after games.

The lawsuit states that “Player Jerry Wunsch remembers that on flights home from football games, club trainers would “walk up and down the aisles of the plane, handing out anti-inflammatories and painkillers to anyone who needed them, no questions asked.” It goes on to say "Player Steven Lofton remembers that team trainers would simply hand him pills and tell him that he needed to take them. The doctors who injected him never said the name of the drug he was being given. Mr. Lofton does remember that the drugs were being given out like M and M’s, the candy. On the plane home from away games, a doctor would walk down the aisle, take pills from zip-lock bags and hand them to the players. Mr. Lofton remembers those flights as being strangely quiet as 53 players were numbed to sleep by the power of the drugs. He was never told by anyone of the side effects of the drugs. These club distribution practices allegedly violated the Controlled Substances Act and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

Steve Silverman, the lead plaintiffs' attorney in the lawsuit, said "the court has opened the doors of justice for those players who were illegally drugged, used, abused and discarded by the NFL teams." He goes on to say "Plaintiffs will now have the opportunity to put the NFL teams to task as to where these painkillers came from, how they were namelessly purchased in bulk, and why there is no record of examinations and prescriptions as to most players."

Some players became addicted to pain pills after retiring from the NFL.  J.D. Hill, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said "I was provided uppers, downers, painkillers, you name it while in the NFL. I became addicted and turned to the streets after my career and was homeless. Never took a drug in my life, and I became a junkie in the NFL."

In addition to trying to get the case dismissed on the Preemption argument, the clubs also tried to dismiss the lawsuit on the basis that the claims are barred under the statute of limitations. The Judge said “Nevertheless, the nature of at least some of the injuries was latent and slow in developing. Therefore, it is not possible to say as a matter of law on this record that the statute of limitations categorically bars plaintiffs’ claims. The Judge left the door open for the NFL to use the statute of limitations argument at a later date when he said “The motion is denied, however, without prejudice to later proof that the statute of limitations bars some or all of the claims of individual plaintiffs.”

The new lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages and the creation of an NFL- funding testing and monitoring program to help protect players from painkiller- linked addiction, injuries and disabilities.

You can read the entire court document on the denial of the NFL’s motion to dismiss at this link: NFL's Motion to Dismiss is Denied

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NFL Concussion Settlement Official Website

We are getting close to the final approval and implementation of the NFL Concussion Settlement.

If there are no appeals filed with the United States Supreme Court by the deadline of August 30, 2016, the Settlement will become final and the BAP (Baseline Assessment Program) could be implemented as soon as October.

If you haven’t visited the official website for the NFL Concussion Settlement, here is a link to that website: NFL Concussion Settlement Website

When you get to the home page of the website, there is a link at the top and bottom of the page that says [SIGN UP FOR FUTURE INFORMATION]

The website has an FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) page at this link: NFL Concussion Settlement FAQ's

I encourage all former players to go to the official NFL Concussion website and provide them with your contact information. Eventually, this site will be used to register for the Settlement benefits. You should also stay in close contact with your lawyer, if you have retained a law firm.

It is important to know that out of 20,000 former players that are part of the settlement less than 5,000 former players retained an attorney, so there are a lot of guys out there that do not know all the details and provisions of the Settlement. Please share this information with them. 

In all Settlements there are many members of the class that never take advantage of the benefits. In fact, it is estimated that almost 20% of eligible players will not even bother to register. Let's do everything we can to get the word out that it is critical for former players to register once the Settlement has been approved. A retired player will be required to register within 180 days (6 months) of final approval to submit a claim for medical and/or financial benefits.  

Gentlemen, we are close to the finish line in getting the Settlement approved, but once that happens,  we will begin a new effort to make sure that every former players gets registered. 

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This past Monday, June 6, 2016 marked the 30th year that Jim Kelly has held the Celebrity Golf Classic to raise funds for the Kelly for Kids Foundation and Hunter's HopeOver 50 celebrities come together from the sports and entertainment industry for a memorable weekend. The VIP Gala takes place on the Sunday of the tournament, and typically over 1,000 people are in attendance. It includes a Chinese, silent, and live auction with some of the most unique sports memorabilia. Food stations, live entertainment, and an exciting program keep attendees busy when not bidding on items. Each foursome is paired with a celebrity golfer, and at the Gala they offer a celebrity draft which gives all foursomes the opportunity to bid on a specific celebrity to golf with on Monday.

It has been a tremendous honor for me to attend Jim's Tournament and help him with these two great charitable organizations. They have raised over 5 million for local charities. My connection  with the Kelly family goes back to my days of playing football at the University of Richmond, where I played on the same Spider football team as his older brother, Ray Kelly. 

Jim's oldest brother, Pat Kelly also played football at Richmond and was instrumental in recruiting me to attend the U of R. I just wish I could have returned the favor by convincing his brother Jim to sign with the Bills in 1984. 

Most fans don't know this, but Jim Kelly was recruited to play linebacker at Penn State. Maybe they thought he would follow in the footsteps of his brothers Pat and Ray.  Ray was one hell of a linebacker and Pat is in the Richmond Hall of Fame. He was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection. He was named National Lineman of the Week by the Associated Press following a West Virginia game on October 20, 1973. In that game, Kelly had eleven unassisted tackles, twelve assisted tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions as the Spiders defeated West Virginia 38-17 at City Stadium in Richmond. He played in the Blue-Gray game in 1973 and played in the national Football League for the Baltimore Colts in 1974.  

The Kelly brothers are the best...... and they know how to bring out the best in others. That's what life is all about. Helping your family, your friends and those less fortunate than yourself, because "There, but for the grace of God, go I."  What can be better than having some fun and raising money for a good cause at the same time?  

Here are some pictures from this years VIP Party and Golf Tournament:     

The Jim Kelly 30th Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament and VIP Party