From the beginning, many players and individual lawyers questioned whether the settlement was sufficient. In addition, some lawyers complained that a special $112.5 million legal fund paid for by the NFL would go primarily to attorneys like Seeger and Weiss. Many lawyers complained they were left out of the discussions and remained in the dark about the specifics of the settlement for months after it was announced. Luckasevic has protested that players with the earliest known cases of football-related brain damage, including Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, were cut out of the deal.
"The communication, candidly, has been very poor," said Demetrio, adding that "the cloak of secrecy has been extraordinary to me. You ask a question and they say there's a gag order. That's utter bull----. There's no gag order that says you can't talk to co-counsel. The whole thing has been a disappointment professionally."
Girardi, a prominent Los Angeles personal injury attorney who was part of the famous Erin Brockovich lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric, said Seeger and Weiss marginalized him from settlement discussions even though he sits on the executive committee.
"We were foreclosed," Girardi said. "I was on the executive committee, but when it came time to discuss the settlement, it was just Seeger and the other guy, without any of our input."
Asked if he complained to either of the lead co-counsels, Girardi said: "Yeah, I did. As a matter of fact, I wasn't very sweet."
Seeger, in a statement, wrote: "All of the lawyers on leadership committees for this litigation reviewed the details of the settlement and voted unanimously in its favor before it was announced on August 29."
Before Brody issued her order denying the motion for preliminary approval, Seeger had scheduled a meeting of plaintiffs' attorneys for next Tuesday in New York to discuss the settlement. It's unclear if that meeting will still take place.
Girardi said he supports the settlement for players who were "very badly hurt." But he said the agreement fails to adequately compensate other impaired players whose injuries are not as severe.
"The fact is that a lot of these players are hurt and aren't going to get anything except for a promise in the future," he said. "That doesn't sound very good for me. And I think that's going to require some adjustment one way or another. I don't know how a lawyer ethically could agree just to walk away from this thing."
"What I'm saying is, I'm going to thoroughly examine how many players would not receive anything substantial in this and make a decision with them to opt out of the settlement."
Linda Sanchez, a Democratic congresswoman who chaired hearings of the House Judiciary Committee in 2009 into the NFL and concussions, said she supported Brody's decision.
"The settlement does not do enough to ensure that the NFL is taking all the necessary precautions to protect its active and retired players," Sanchez said in a statement.