In clear action that supports new executive director DeMaurice Smith's call for unity between active and retired players, the NFL Players Association has settled the Herb Adderley lawsuit for an amount just short of the $28.1 million that retired players were awarded in a judgment last November, according to sources.
The NFLPA has agreed to pay the retired players an amount near $26 million, sources said, and not pursue any further appeals of the judgment.
Adderley, the former Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys cornerback, was the lead plaintiff in a class action suit on behalf of 2,056 retired players who claimed the union had breached licensing and marketing terms for use of their images in video games, sports trading cards and other dealings.
A formal announcement of the settlement will be made at a press conference Friday at 11 a.m. ET in Washington, D.C., where Adderley is expected to be speak, sources said.
A 10-person federal jury in a San Francisco court made a unanimous finding in favor of the players. While the retirees claimed damages were valued around $90 million, the jury awarded $7.1 million in actual damages and $21 million in punitive damages. A U.S. District Judge upheld the award in January.
The NFLPA lead attorney on the case, Jeff Kessler, had pledged an aggressive appeal of the verdict but Smith, upon election in March as successor to the late Gene Upshaw, has taken steps to bring peace between the two sides.
Even though Kessler was not fully utilized in the settlement with the retired players, he will remain a vital member of the union's legal team that this week began talks to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, sources said.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN.