Today’s Washington Post has reported that an estate contest between members of NFL football great Gene Upshaw’s family has ended in a confidential settlement. Evidently, that portion of his estate which drew the most fire was the disposition of a $15 million deferred compensation fund which the NFL Players Association paid to his widow. This payment had been previously undisclosed and raised a myriad of issues not only in the Upshaw family but also in the NFL where players were aghast that the late head of their union had received such a large benefit.

The action was started by Upshaw’s son who sought to set aside a will leaving the entire estate to his stepmother, the football star’s second wife. The settlement hides the details of a controversy which has attracted a lot of negative attention from former NFL players whose pension benefits –sometimes as little as $200 monthly–  are insignificant when compared with the payment made to Upshaw’s widow. It may well be that the prospect of fighting a family battle in a court of public record where there are no secrets suddenly seemed to be a really bad idea giving new meaning to the old maxim that "a bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit".