Sam Huff Sends in a Piece of History from 1958
It seems that the most common comment from the young players today who read our last post from Sam Huff has been, “Who’s Sam Huff and Why’s He Mad as Hell“? (Read that earlier post HERE.) Like a lot of us, History wasn’t their strong suit on a college football scholarship…
So as a little history lesson for the day, we’re posting a copy of an incredible piece of NFL/NFLPA history. Dave just received a copy of a letter sent to Ed Khayat (click to read more about Ed) in Mississippi (note the postmark from 1958 and the lack of a zip code back then!). The letter summarizes a meeting held by current players’ representatives at the time in January 1958 to discuss some of the conditions and problems each of the players faced just to play the game. Much like that LM-2, it’s very revealing in details. Kind of like the Summit Abner Haynes and Bob Grant are calling for again today (if you haven’t done so, be sure to sign up for information on the Summit by clicking on the Join the Summit tab at the top of this site).
They were just in the early stages of forming their players association (the forerunner of today’s Union) and many were so poor, they had to be given the option of having $5.00 a week taken out of their $50 a week training allowance until their $25 dues were paid up! In fact, the Green Bay players were given a “generous” $50 a week training camp allowance and the poor Detroit Lions were only given a $25 a week allowance! You’ll also see that on Page 4, Bob Walston of the Philadelphia Eagles voiced his team’s biggest complaint as, “Players are against the injury clause and feel that it is unfair that the players must sign away workers compensation claims while playing ball. The players feel they should have a voice in what type equipment they should use.” Wow!
You’ll also see that the majority of the players were favorable to forming a players association and the owners were clearly against it even back then. This old document is now 50 years old and goes a long way in detailing the early struggles of the old players in forming the NFLPA, as well as giving everyone a snapshot into just how poorly these guys were paid and treated for their pure love of the game.
We can only hope that this letter gets widely circulated for a couple of reasons: One good reason is as a retort to all those jerks who continue to post their ignorant rants about “those rich, old players complaining about not getting their due after squandering their riches.” We also hope that the young players of today who have shown no interest in helping or even so much as acknowledging the contributions of the older retired players both on AND off the field might sit up and take a little more notice (50 years later and it’s a different day but same problems – you don’t want to be looking back on this the same way 50 years from now!). In fact, one of Sam’s pet peeves is that when he and co-host Sonny Jurgensen try to get current players on their local Redskins football broadcasts, few of them return their calls because they have no clue who Sam and Sonny are! So after you read this letter, think again.
As always, click on each thumbnail to enlarge for easier reading. You can also download a PDF copy of the document by clicking HERE.