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Judge gives up on a players, NFL bounty settlement

Associated Press Modified: September 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm •  Published: September 5, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has all but ruled out any prospects for a settlement in the case of four NFL players challenging their bounty suspensions.

U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan issued an order Wednesday in which she lamented the failure of settlement talks, then asked for more filings pertaining to the players' request for a temporary restraining order that would allow them to return to their teams while their case against the NFL proceeds.

Berrigan wrote that she believes the four players' interests have been undermined by "longstanding acrimony among all of the attorneys representing all of the parties that predates these disputes."

Her comments were an apparent allusion to rivalries between representatives of the NFL and NFL Players Association which date back to previous disagreements including the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement that came together only after a bitter, several-month lockout.

Berrigan wrote that she found the failure of settlement talks "extremely disappointing" because she believed "they would likely have resulted in some relief for all four (of) the players."

The judge also mentioned that she believes all sides have competing agendas, leaving her concerned about a possible conflict of interest for three players who are represented by the same lawyers representing the NFLPA.

Hoping to resolve those concerns, the judge asked the NFLPA, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to file papers by Thursday explaining why the players and the union do not need separate lawyers.

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