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Last updated: March 18. 2013 11:41PM - 1881 Views

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BC-FBN—NFL-Players Lawsuit, 1st Ld-Writethru,629


NFL to pay $42M for using retired players images


AP Photo AZMY105, AZMY101


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By DAVE CAMPBELL and JON KRAWCZYNSKI


AP Sports Writers


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The NFL has agreed to pay $42 million as part of a settlement with a group of retired players who challenged the league over using their names and images without their consent.


The league will use the money to fund a “common good” trust over the next eight years that will help retired players with an array of issues including medical expenses, housing and career transition. The settlement also establishes a licensing agency for retired players to ensure they are compensated for the use of their identities in promotional materials.


“We look forward to building an unprecedented new relationship with retired players that will benefit everybody, especially those who need extra medical or financial assistance,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday in a statement issued by the league.


The settlement could improve the frosty relationship between the NFL and many of its retired players who have felt left behind as the league has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Former stars like Mike Ditka, Jim Brown and others have lobbied hard for more help dealing with retired players’ mounting financial difficulties and medical expenses.


Brown called the settlement a “landmark for those who really need it.”


“We were able to finalize this agreement and for the first time in history retired players will be represented at the table,” Brown said at a press conference in Arizona, where owners are holding meetings this week.


Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea and five other retired players filed the federal class-action lawsuit in Minneapolis in 2009 accusing the NFL of blatantly exploiting retired players’ identities in films, highlight reels and memorabilia to market the league’s “glory days.”


“The retired players who created these glory days, however, have gone almost completely uncompensated for this use of their identities,” the plaintiffs said. “Notably, while exploiting the identities of retired players for commercial gain, the NFL prohibits retired NFL players from using their own identities as players to promote themselves commercially.”


The Common Good fund will be administered by a group of retired players approved by the court. And the licensing agency will for the first time market retired players’ publicity rights in conjunction with the NFL, thereby making it easier for retired players to work with potential sponsors and advertisers.


The other players listed in the suit are Jim Marshall, Ed White, Joe Senser, Fred Dryer and Dan Pastorini. In the past, if Marshall was approached by a company looking to pay him to use footage of him as a player in a commercial or advertisement, the company would have to go to the NFL for approval, to the Minnesota Vikings for more approval and to any player featured in that footage for more approval.


The new licensing agency, which will be overseen by a board of retired players, will streamline that process.


NFL will not change postseason in 2013


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PHOENIX (AP) — The NFL will not be adding teams to the playoffs this season, but still is discussing an expanded postseason.


Commissioner Roger Goodell says Monday that the league’s competition committee has looked into adding teams to the playoffs, and the topic will be discussed at this week’s owners meetings. But “it clearly won’t happen this year,” Goodell says.


Twelve of the 32 teams make the playoffs, including all eight division winners. Adding more qualifiers could mean eliminating byes in the opening round if the NFL went to as many as 16 playoff teams. It could add two teams and keep a system of byes.


Goodell says the league must determine if expanded playoffs “make sense.” The NFL has had 12 playoff teams since 1990.


Champion Ravens might not open at home


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PHOENIX (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens could open the season on the road because of a scheduling conflict with baseball’s Orioles.


The NFL traditionally kicks off the season with the Super Bowl champion as the host team on the Thursday night after Labor Day. But the Orioles are scheduled to be home that night at Camden Yards, which is located close by M&T Bank Stadium.


Commissioner Roger Goodell says Monday he has twice spoken with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig about switching the baseball game to the afternoon, with the Ravens’ opener beginning later than usual in the evening. Moving the NFL game to Wednesday night is not alternative, Goodell says, because it is the first night of Rosh Hashanah.


If no solution is reached, the Ravens could open on the road, but “I don’t think that’s fair for the Ravens’ fans,” Goodell says.


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