Friday, June 30, 2006

Former Players Sue NFL [J. Mark English]

ATLANTA (AP) -- Steve Atwater told his four kids their recent trip to Cancun may be the last one for a while. Blaine Bishop has tossed and turned at night, worried his retirement safety net could be in jeopardy.
The two former NFL defensive backs insisted Friday that the league and its players' union are to blame for the $20 million they and five other current and former players lost in an alleged investment scam.
The seven players have sued the league and its union to recover the money, claiming the union endorsed the services of an investment firm even though its manager had liens against him.
"They are a huge billion-dollar company," Atwater, a former Pro Bowl safety for the Denver Broncos, said of the NFL at a news conference. "We hope that they would at least come to the table and talk to us."
Bishop said he is past being mad at the scheme authorities say hedge fund manager Kirk Wright cooked up to steal the players' money. Now, he just wants his money back so he can take better care of his wife and 5-year-old son.
"It's not to the point of filing for bankruptcy, but it's a large sum of money," said Bishop, a former Pro Bowl safety for the Philadelphia Eagles who also played for the Tennessee Titans. "It didn't destroy us, but ... the NFL failed us."
The lawsuit, filed June 23 in federal court in Atlanta, says the league and the NFL Players Association are liable for the losses. The players also say the union failed to certify that Wright was properly insured.