Observations from Tony Davis

Apr 4, 2008

Tony Davis Nebraska vs. Minnesota

Fellow Retirees:

I have spent this past week researching several areas of contention. My work is not yet complete but I’ll keep you all abreast of what I find as fact. Here are a few highlights that I want to share with all of you and I’ll follow up with more details:

Our Union, the NFLPA, is now claiming that they know the current Disability System is broken and needs to be fixed. That they’re finally making that admission is good. What’s bad is they claim they have taken steps to fix it with these new adjustments to the Disability Plan. First of all, they did nothing until former players went before a Congressional Committee to bring attention to the issues and then that was followed up by a bombardment of e-mails to our Senators and Congressmen. Your pressure forced their hand. I was then told by an NFLPA official that, “Gene has wanted for years to help the Retiree who had to take his Pension early but couldn’t get Disability because of the NFLPA rule.”

The fact is that last Fall, Gene Upshaw made the statement that he could do nothing about the Retiree who took his Pension early and now was disabled because it was “the law.” Double talk or apparently “The Law” was amended. I was also told by a Union Rep – as many of you have been – that the “Pensions” will not move as there is just not enough money. Another crock, as most of you have now seen the MLB vs NFL Pension comparisons.

We must never let up. We must continue to lobby our Congressman and Senators; this has been very effective. Why did our Union spend millions of OUR money to fight Mike Webster and his Family and continues to fight our crippled and disabled Retired Players with OUR money? (By the way, the Webster family eventually won that suit!)

Let’s make sure those who built this league finally get what they deserve as well.

Tony Davis

5 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    April 4th, 2008 at 8:01 pm #


    Thanks for your hard work. Please review the magazine section of the Washington Post Super Bowl Sunday 2/3/08 where Gene Upshaw makes this Statement to Michael Leahy, a Magazine staff writer; “Once he took that pension, that was it: He can’t get a disability (benefit). That’s not only the rule of the retirement plan — it’s the law.”

    I ask if he’s certain of that.

    “Yes,” he answers. “It’s not just the NFL; it’s the law.”

    But it’s not the law, says the attorney Upshaw himself retained. Lanny Davis, in a separate interview, says the NFL could grant both a pension and a right to a disability payment. “It’s discretionary.” Which is the way it is with most corporations. (The Washington Post Magazine — February 3, 2008; page 26).

    How embarrassing is that? I am receiving Social Security Disability because I have had 7 spine surgeries and a total left hip replacement scheduled this month on 4/29/08 and I also have had numerous concussions from playing football in the NFL and I know that Gene’s understanding of the law is incorrect but he’s been quoting laws that don’t exist and then enforcing his rules! Hello, is anybody home?

    All the best,
    Dave & Heidi Pear
    website: http://www.davepear.com/blog/

  2. Conrad Dobler
    April 5th, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    Conrad Dobler Today

    Thanks for all the updates. There are three retired players here in Kansas City including me who have received our disability packages. They are the same packages we all received in years past. You’re right — they don’t even have the system in place, yet they tell us we only have four months to file. If you wanted to get Social Security benefits or even a ruling, it has been reported that the Social Security Administration is 18 months behind in hearing any disability claims. What help does this really provide to those who need disability? If you don’t have the blessing of the Social Security Administration, it’s going to be the same runaround we have all experienced for the last 25 years: Doctor shopping.

    Conrad Dobler

  3. Dave Pear
    April 5th, 2008 at 5:09 pm #


    I feel your pain. The current disability system in the NFL is broken and continues to fail the disabled players. The new re-opener benefit for Total and Permanent Disability is proving to be the same thus far:

    1)The social security disability standard is much higher than disability standards for Corporate America. Why? This is unfair. There are too many hoops that injured players are required to jump through plus the doctor shopping by the NFL. These are NOT neutral Doctors! They are hand picked Doctors that are trained to disqualify the injured player. These Doctors are not trained as employment counselors and qualified to recommend the type of employment these players can do. It seems the word they all use is; “sedentary” employment. What does that mean? It only means a denied benefit to the injured player and his family.

    2) There are few details on the new disability re-opener benefit and the disabled players have so many unanswered questions.

    3) I received my application for disability benefits on 4/1/08 from Sarah Gaunt but the cut off date for “retroactive T&P benefits” was 3/31/08 as explained in a notice inside the application package. Is that fair? However, because I have been receiving social security disability since 2004 for football injuries I will be required to use a different application which I received today 4/5/08 from Lawrence Lamade from Akin Gump in Washington DC. The NFL disability system is an unfair system designed to deny disabled NFL players and their families access to their disability benefits.

    4) For the FEW disabled players that do receive disability from the NFL, the VAST majority receive the lowest possible level or nothing at all.

    5) Disabled players are not asking for charity as Gene Upshaw contends but only what they and their families were promised. That was the deal then and it is the same deal today.

    Dave Pear
    website: http://davepear.com/blog/

  4. Conrad Dobler
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:47 am #

    Conrad Dobler Old Days
    I didn’t receive my package until April first. I didn’t really understand the need to file by 3/31/08 for a T&P disability benefit. Why don’t they just use the three I have filed before?

    Conrad Dobler

  5. Dave Pear
    April 7th, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    Dave Pear Washington Post
    Dear Conrad,

    If they (NFLPA) used the three applications you filed before, that would make (TOO) much sense. We know that instead of allowing disabled players and their families access to their earned benefits (disability) the NFLPA is spending (OUR) money on The Groom Law Group to delay and deny and create more hoops for us to jump through in hopes that we will go away. However, that will not happen. We will continue to heap hot coals on their heads through bold persistence and zeal in our battle for justice. They can take away our benefits but not our dignity. Press on and play their game but play to win because we are right and they are WRONG! Congress or a court of law will tell them how to run their business and then scold them as they did in the Mike Webster case for abusing their power if they continue their course. Take your stand and stand firm as we continue to build our case.

    Dave Pear
    website: http://davepear.com/blog/