Six-time Pro Bowler Gene Upshaw knows that the best defense is a good offense. With that in mind, the current director of the National Football League Players Association has countersued six current and former members/players for breach of contract.
Those six players—Steve Atwater, Ray Crockett, Al Smith, Blaine Bishop, Carlos Emmons and Clyde Simmons—sued the union and the NFL last year, alleging that they lost $20 million in a phony hedge fund endorsed by the NFLPA. That hedge fund was International Management Associates, run by former fugitive Kirk Wright, currently awaiting trial on fraud charges. The plaintiffs say that the NFLPA approved IMA in spite of liens against Wright.
In their countersuit, filed in Atlanta federal court, the union argues the players violated a union regulation that says the NFLPA does not endorse any of its registered financial advisers or vouch for their competence. It also accuses the players of breaching union rules by not exhausting in-house remedies before going to court.
The union is particular after Atwater and Bishop, who it says promoted Wright’s fund to other players. In addition to asking the court to enforce its disclaimer of liability and order the players to cover its legal costs, the NFLPA wants Atwater and Bishop to contribute to any damages the union is ordered to pay the other four players, and to forfeit any commissions they received from Wright to the others.
The union also sued Wright in an effort to recoup any damages enforced against it if it loses the case against the players.
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