By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — A group of angry football fans and their lawyers have gotten a response from the NFL over the disaster that was the canceled Hall of Fame Game. The Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday published a “HOF Game Refund” page on their website, offering a chance to request a “reimbursement plan” for fans who ventured to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio for the doomed game.

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That reimbursement plan entails not just the face value of their tickets but “all processing, shipping and handling fees, pre-paid parking purchased through the Hall of Fame, pre-sale reservation fees, and one night of hotel accommodations to eligible fans,” according to a press release sent to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

The press release reportedly also includes four tickets to the Hall of Fame museum in Canton, a “commemorative photo” from the 2016 enshrinement ceremony, a copy of this year’s Hall of Fame yearbook, 30 percent off a purchase in the Hall of Fame store, and the right to purchase a ticket to a future Hall of Fame ceremony or game within the next five years. In a word, trinkets. Knickknacks, if you will.

The website for the reimbursement plan also reads: “If you accept the Reimbursement Plan the HOF has extended to you, you will be releasing all of the claims asserted or which could be asserted in the lawsuit and will not be permitted to participate in any way or receive anything that might be obtained in the lawsuit.” So if you accept the league’s offer but wanted to be a part of Michael Avenatti’s class action lawsuit … you may be out of luck there. Florio tweeted that the league’s press release did not mention this significant detail.

Offering a refund for tickets, parking, and hotel expenses (plus all that sweet memorabilia) certainly sounds like a reasonable offer. But the NFL can’t feasibly expect that more than a small fraction, if any, of the fans who attended the game would actually go through the process of obtaining an “information packet” on their reimbursement plan and then mail back a “reimbursement election form” to apply for their refund, and THEN hope that they get approved for whatever money they requested.

The NFL is operating like a website that makes you click through five pages, talk to a customer service robot, take a survey, and offer up a limb or two just to cancel a monthly subscription.

This is ostensibly a response to Avenatti’s initial settlement offer of $450 reimbursed per fan, plus a waiving of legal fees for his team. It appears that the NFL is not about to accept Avenatti’s offer, which carries a deadline of Friday, August 19 at noon.

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Avenatti reportedly described the response to Pro Football Talk as the league “trying to get off cheap with their fans.” Considering the process the league laid out for fans just to apply for a refund, their offer stands to cost them far less than actually paying the fans cold hard cash through Avenatti’s settlement.

“Our offer of $450 per fan stands and is more than reasonable. It is a drop in the bucket for a league that pays Goodell $45 million a year and receives $14 billion in annual revenue,” said Avenatti. “The fans should get what Goodell gets — cash, not commemorative photos, copies of yearbooks, etc.

“If Goodell, the owners and other league execs will take photos, yearbooks, tickets, etc. for the next year in place of cash, so will the fans. We are not holding our breath.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

That’s a LOT of yearbooks. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

It appears that the fans are poised to lose out in this situation, no matter what. If and when Avenatti proceeds with the class-action lawsuit, it could turn out to be even more expensive of a problem for the fans, as strong as their case appears to be. The lawyers would be the ones to really be compensated while the case would merely make a small dent in the monolithic façade of the NFL, which already has much bigger legal problems on their hands and spent upwards of $20 million on cases such as DeflateGate and the Super Bowl XLV seating fiasco.

The NFL, at least, acknowledged the lawsuit’s existence and tried to offer something to make things right with its fans. But the hoop-jumping required for reimbursement, plus the pathetic gift basket offered as part of the refunds, didn’t make the league look any better. This is still a debacle that was entirely a result of their actions and this reimbursement offer was a tacit acknowledgement of that.

Whether or not any fans actually accept the league’s TV infomercial mail-in rebate of an offer, it doesn’t appear that this particular case is going away anytime soon. Like lots of other public battles the NFL has waged against its own players, teams, officials, or fans, it may only continue to get more absurd.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer for His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at