Retired Players Summit
There’s been a lot of discussion on the need for a first meeting for retired players and several groups and individuals have been trying to get that organized. This won’t be a small feat. Logistics, costs and last but not least – egos – will need to be managed and accommodated.
But in the end, few people will deny that any steps forward will be a step in the right direction. Here’s an e-mail that Bob Grant had sent out in late November asking for players to sign up as well as to send their comments. We’ve also posted a simple form at the end of Bob’s request that’s easy to fill in and submit. Your information will not be sold or distributed to anyone else or used for any other purpose. (If you already filled out the form on this earlier post HERE, there’s no need to submit your information again – thanks!).
Fellow Retired Players -
In November, some of you received an Invitation to participate in a proposed Summit for Retired Players. I have spoken with other Advocates in our Cause over the past months about this idea and all seemed to be on board. In the Invitation that you received you were told that your name would be placed on a Master List of Players who support such a Meeting and formation of a Commission that is actually formed by Players themselves, finally. One man, one vote.” No bosses, no “VIP – Very Important Men” and no one with any hidden agendas.
I do not speak for the most successful Advocate in our ranks, Bernie Parrish, but I believe that he will tell you that I have supported his effort to correct past wrongs and am pretty much in line with the way that he sees things. I understand that there are many in our family who do not see things in the same harsh light that I do or that Bernie may. You all love him though, as do I. He is a real hero. A lot of folks said that he couldn’t win in the class action suit that he personally created. You remember that it was not too long ago when the NFLPA told everyone that the lawsuit had been thrown out and Bernie Parrish was through. I spoke with him personally after that NFLPA release and he told me that adjustments were being made but the Action would continue and he would win because he had the goods on them. I do not have to say more, do I? He did… and HE DID!
You would think that a man would give up after working for more than FORTY years (!) to expose the unfair treatment of Retired Professional Football Players. You would think that a man who blew the whistle over thirty-seven (37) years ago on the connections between Professional Football, organized crime, big-time gamblers and favored politicians would have been forced into hiding for the past quarter century. The really crazy thing is that he actually managed to do what he did – and continues to do so with facts, truth and his own money. I know that he is not looking to make a dime for himself from this fight and I also know that he is not seeking personal recognition. You should demand nothing less from any to the Front-Line Advocates. There is much more to the Parrish story and I hope that you will learn all of the facts someday.
It’s easy to speak out against injustice after you have retired, but guys like Parrish, Bill Howton and five or six other early Player Reps spoke up when they were actually playing. Hell, the Owners shipped more than half of the total number of Player Reps off to the newly established Dallas Cowboys franchise back in the 60′s in hopes of breaking their spirits. Did you know that some of those guys are still in the fight? In my personal opinion, you could learn a lot more about “standing up” than you can from me or the other Good Advocates that we have today.
This fight is not about egos. It’s about you. That is why we are urging you to support our proposed Summit and participate by attending in person or via the telecommunication hookup that Bob Stein has proposed. Each Advocate who attends will make a presentation and you are encouraged to speak as well – it’s not about them.
Bernie created a model that the entire family of Retired Players can use to advance the ball on their own behalf while he continues in his fight for justice. He went into court with a group of men who were named in the suit. He had a focused objective and did not try to fight the battle over every wrong that has been done to Retired Players in what I believe is only round one of a long war.
Herb Adderley said to me outside of the courtroom in San Francisco, “Bernie did this. I wouldn’t even be here if he had not put this thing together and made this happen.”
Now many people are running around saying that, “We beat them, We beat them.” The truth is that Bernie, Herb and Walter are the ones who beat them. And they showed us how we can also beat them in coming fights.
I consulted Bernie before suggesting the Invitation that you received and he told me that he wished me the very best in getting it done but he stressed that it was going to be a really, really hard thing to do. I told him that I was going to give it my best shot. The day following that conversation I sent the Invitation to the other Front-line Advocates and asked them to forward it to all of the guys that they had on their email lists, but only if they were comfortable with what I wrote.
I still believe that this is what we need to do if we are to really bring the NFLPA and NFL to account.
My Fellow Players – I’m not looking for a job or money, I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want my name in the newspapers, I seek no recognition. I don’t want to become a “new Gene” and I don’t want to hold any office in whatever we create. My only agenda is to do what I can to help bring as many Retired Players together as possibly so that we can give ourselves back the vote that Upshaw and the NFLPA took away from us when we retired. If we choose work with any of the Groups on any particular project, we can. If we choose not to, we don’t have to. But we should give them an opportunity to make their case as long as they do not use us to fight personal battles that exist among themselves.
Congress will be busy saving the Country for some time to come, so I’m not sure that they even have the time to help us. They’re trying to stop “Big Business,” from going under right now and both the NFL and the NFLPA are “Big Business.” However, some of our other Advocates feel that we can still get Congressional help and I support their efforts in looking into it.
The Commissioner went around inviting you to meetings but saying that you cannot bring your attorney or your wife. None of your Advocates may intend and widows of players who have passed on will be not included. (Of course, some of that has recently changed a little.) Those meetings are nothing but a sham. You were being asked to leave your most capable fighters and advisors at home. Commissioner Rozelle invented that game. Ask Bill Howton about that trick and how it got started!
We do have some Advocates who are doing all that they can to arrange meaningful meetings with the Commissioner. I will not speak against their efforts. They might surprise us. But I would like for someone to explain to me how the sheep can hope to bargain with a Wolf. That said, I’m willing to give them a chance but urge them to remember that Commissioner Goodell was hired by the Owners, paid by the Owners and he can be fired by guess-who. That is an absolute FACT.
My advice? Remember the model that Bernie Parrish just showed you.
If you have already registered with Abner Haynes, Bruce Laird, Tony Davis or me, you do not have to re-send; you are on the List already. If you registered with anyone else or anywhere else, we probably don’t have your information.
I am asking you to please submit your name, teams played for and e-mail address so that we can add you to the Master List of those who support our proposed Summit and gathering. You can also add a short message with your submission.
I promise you that will help to make it happen. But your participation is needed.
I’ll keep working if Abner hears from enough of us. If not, “I’ll see you at the funeral” because time is short for all of us now.