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NFL union asks that suit be dismissed

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2007) -- The NFL Players Association's licensing arm is asking a court to dismiss a suit accusing it of inadequately representing 3,500 retired players.

Players Inc., which handles licensing agreements for the NFLPA, announced April 4 that it had filed the action.

The suit was filed in February by Bernie Parrish and Herb Adderley. It alleged that Players Inc. has done little to secure licensing deals with clothing manufacturers, video game makers and other venues and also seeks class-action status to represent the 3,500 retired players, which it says may be owed "tens of millions of dollars."

Parrish was a defensive back with the Cleveland Browns and Houston Oilers from 1959 to 1966. Adderley was a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys from 1961 through 1972. The lawsuit claims that $7 million was given to 358 retired players in 2005, meaning a small percentage of players have been compensated.

The union said in a statement that its motions to dismiss are based on what it called "the frivolous nature of the suit."

It also sought sanctions against the firm that fired the suit, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. The union claims the firm is "apparently taking the lead in establishing a commercial entity called 'Retired Professional Football Players for Justice,' which will compete directly with Players Inc. for the licensing of former NFL players' names and images, and thus has interests that are directly adverse to the purported class they seek to represent."'

Manatt lawyer Ronald Katz said the law firm is simply the company's outside counsel and that "we have no economic interest in this." Further, Katz said the company is a nonprofit cooperative, rather than a for-profit commercial entity.

Katz also denied the union's accusations that the lawsuit was filed to harass the players association.

The players union also asked that the case be transferred from San Francisco to a federal court in Virginia or the District of Columbia, where the union and Players Inc. are based.

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