49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 12, 2011
NFL players' lawsuit -- why is Von Miller involved?

When addressing the media yesterday, players union executive director DeMaurice Smith referred to a "brave young Aggie prospect" who had joined nine established NFL players in a class-action lawsuit against the league's owners. That brave Aggie is linebacker Von Miller, whom many prognosticators see the 49ers taking with the No. 7 pick in the draft on April 28.

Two questions arise: Why Miller? And what impact might his inclusion have on his draft status?

As Pro Football Talk adroitly explained on Friday night, the presence of a draft prospect in the lawsuit allows the players to challenge a rookie wage scale -- something the owners want in a new collective bargaining agreement -- as part of their anti-trust case.

But any draft prospect would have sufficed. Why Miller? Perhaps because he's represented by Athletes First, one of whose agents is Andrew Kessler. His father: Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney for the NFL Players Association, who may have impressed upon his son the importance of having a high-profile would-be rookie in the lawsuit. Calls Saturday to Athletes First and to officials with the former players association were not returned.

Is Miller taking a risk? Will teams see him as a trouble maker and steer clear of him early in Round 1? I made a few phone calls, and the feedback I got was that Miller's background and character check out nicely - indeed, it's helped boost his stock - and that no one sees the lawsuit as a red flag. Of course, I didn't speak with any owners ...

One more related item that may or may not be important: Athletes First's lead agent is David Dunn, who represents 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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