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Two lawyers normally at odds in court have teamed up to fight a $20 million suit filed by by seven current and former National Football League players. Gregg Levy of Covington & Burling and Jonathan Yablonski, a D.C. solo practitioner, filed separate motions to dismiss on behalf of the NFL and the NFL Players Association respectively, after the players sued their clients in June in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The players allege they lost $20 million after using financial advisers Kirk Wright and Nelson “Keith” Bond of International Management Associates, based on the NFL’s recommendation. In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a fraud suit against Wright, alleging that he embezzled up to $185 million. Wright also has been indicted for mail fraud in Georgia; that case is still being investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. In motions to dismiss filed Aug. 18, Levy, a former finalist for the NFL commissioner job that ultimately went to Roger Goodell, and Yablonski argue that at least two of the players in the suit actually solicited others to invest and that the dispute should be resolved using the arbitration system dictated by the players’ collective-bargaining agreement. “The players rushed off to court without following the prescribed requirements with disputes of this kind,” says Levy. Yablonski and Levy sparred 10 years ago, when the players union sued the NFL for $30 million after the league lowered the so-called developmental squad’s salary. The antitrust case was ultimately decided in favor of the NFL by the Supreme Court. The players’ lawyer, Marlon Kimpson of Atlanta’s Motley Rice, says that the aim of the suit is to fix the NFLPA’s financial-adviser program. “If one of our clients dropped the ball on the field or missed a play, they are held accountable. The players association dropped the ball big time. They really need to do what is right for all the guys,” he says.
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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