Why has Roger Stone become a critic in NFL concussion settlement?
Summary: Why has Roger Stone become a critic in NFL concussion settlement?
Roger Stone has emerged as an unlikely critic of the NFL concussion settlement over the last several weeks, and the indicted former associate of President Donald Trump has been “a go-to source” for a lawyer involved in litigation, according to a federal court filing obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
“Stop the racism and pay up!” Stone wrote in part on an Instagram post Monday that featured a player card of former Seattle Seahawks defensive back Cornell Webster, who is black.
Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the class of retired NFL players that helped craft the settlement, wrote in a Tuesday filing with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania – the same federal court that handled the settlement – that Florida-based attorney Patrick Tighe "appears to be a go-to source for Roger Stone."
“Roger Stone, the self-described ‘dirty trickster’ and a focus of the on-going ‘Russia’ investigation by Robert Mueller, has been peddling conspiracy theories and trash-talk about the Settlement since January 2018,” Seeger wrote.
Tighe, who represents Webster and about 90 other former NFL players, denied any association with Stone in an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Thursday.
"I have nothing to do with Roger Stone," Tighe said. "I have not hired Roger Stone and he's not an agent of mine."
Asked why Stone has become interested in the concussion settlement and Webster's case in particular, Tighe replied, "Your guess is as good as mine."
Webster suffers neurological consequences consistent with traumatic brain injury, Tighe said. Messages left with Webster by USA TODAY Sports were not returned.
Webster is among the more than 20,000 retired players players covered by the concussion settlement that became final in January 2017. As of this week, more than $617 million has been approved – and $425 million has been paid – for claims out of 2,312 applications received by the administrator overseeing the settlement.
Federal agents arrested Stone at his Florida home Jan. 25 after a federal grand jury indicted the longtime political consultant on charges related to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Last week, he pleaded not guilty to all seven charges, which included: a count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and a count of witness tampering.
Stone has taken aim at U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, who has presided over the settlement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and others involved in the settlement in columns and appearances on conservative-leaning websites like the Daily Caller, as well as far-right fringe sites known for peddling conspiracy theories, such as Gateway Pundit and InfoWars.
"This is the biggest scandal surrounding the NFL in the wake of the biggest profits in their history. This is a scandal worthy of a presidential tweet," Stone wrote in a Daily Caller op-ed.
“The NFL and their co-conspirators are blatantly screwing brain injured retired NFL players, to keep the NFL’s billionaire owner’s pockets lined, while feigning compassion,” Stone wrote in another story. “All with the blessing of Senior Federal Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Anita Brody."
Critics have voiced concerns over shortcomings in the concussion settlement, but Stone – and Tighe – most recently have honed in on a ruling by Brody last month that was so in-the-weeds only legal sites covered it. Brody sided with lawyers representing the former players over the NFL when it came to “generally consistent” criteria on how doctors determine the level of disability for each former player.
Stone lawyers Grant J. Smith and Bruce S. Rogow told USA TODAY Sports they had no information on why Stone has taken an interest in the NFL concussion settlement and declined further comment.
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