Finding Burt Grossman’s $40,000!

Feb 25, 2010

For the past couple of days, we had a run of comments on an earlier post between Burt Grossman and Lionel James about their missing Severance Pay. It turns out that Burt has been going in circles with the NFL, the Eagles front office and the NFLPA trying to get the $40,000 in severance that he had coming after retiring from the Eagles in 1994 based on rules set out in the CBA. We even put him in touch with Mitchell Welch from Gay Culverhouse’s Players’ Outreach so they could see firsthand how little assistance retired players can expect once they’re out of the game. Like the old expression goes: The lights are on but no one’s home.

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Irv Cross explained how that Severance Pay is calculated according to the CBA since 1993 – click HERE to read his earlier post discussing these rules.

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Anyway, here’s Burt’s story about his missing $40,000:

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I first contacted Benefits, then the Eagles, followed by the NFLPA.

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They first informed me I had sent letters requesting severance. I laughed and said I would love to see copies of those letters. Then the next day, they changed their story and said they had “graciously” requested it for me 20 months after my last season, and I said really? So why didn’t I get it 20 months later or 1996? Why was it sent 4 years later in 1998? Of course, then I was told they didn’t know (there was a handwritten note in my file at the NFL to the Eagles giving them a different address to the one they say they sent it to). So I asked them exactly where they sent this $40,000 4 years after my last season and they claimed an address I had moved away from three years earlier. This of course meant they probably withheld taxes, sent it and then had it returned as undeliverable. Most likely they never re-sent it, kept it on their books for a couple of years as a secret and then wrote it off and kept the money. Again, I asked why hasn’t the IRS ever contacted me about not reporting this phantom $40,000? I got a letter from the IRS just last month because I didn’t declare 3 dollars of interest from a checking account in 2007 but they’d let an unreported $40,000 slide? There are absolutely no records of me ever receiving this money – not one signature or shred of paper as proof because I never got it. I didn’t even ask for 16 years of interest tacked on to the money they’ve held and they sure never put it in the Pennsylvania Unclaimed Funds account at the State Controller’s office!

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Finally, they said talk to the Eagles…

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Next up, I called the Eagles and they said they had an IRS Form W-2 from 1998. So I said that doesn’t mean I received these funds. There are absolutely no records anywhere from my bank to the IRS. I asked for some kind of signature endorsement or proof that I had ever received or cashed this check – still nothing. Just a ‘sorry.’

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How can this be possible that they can just keep my $40,000 and never produce one shred of documentation that they paid me?

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Finally, I called the NFLPA back and they said I should hire a lawyer. So today I finally hired a lawyer.

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I would love to hear how many other players are unaware of this practice. It’s almost insane to even try to talk to these people and in the end, our own NFLPA just tells me to hire a lawyer!

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And this just came in from Lionel James:

“Burt’s situation with the Eagle’s is the exact thing that I got from the NFL office! I mean, word-for-word, as if I wrote Burt’s post! Someone: Please look into this fraud!

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

Sorry to keep doing this but we just found the two specific pages pertaining to Severance Pay in the current CBA. Click on thumbnails to enlarge for reading.

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16 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. RobertinSeattle
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    RobertinSeattle
    Burt –

    I have a feeling your lawyer is probably going to tell you to charge them interest. Even at 5% annually, it would probably double your money to $80,000 when compounded. Why let them keep it after all this grief over 16 years? You earned it just like all the other guys who probably haven’t been told they have severance checks all these years!

    You know, now that I think about it, isn’t it a violation of Labor laws when an employer doesn’t pay their employees their severance pay immediately upon retiring? Does anyone know any other company in the Fortune 500 who withholds severance pay for 16+ years?

  2. Burt Grossman
    February 26th, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    Burt Grossman
    I’m getting the feeling there’s a new storm of fraud brewing. In the end, maybe it’s a good thing they told me to hire a lawyer. Maybe we can shed some light on this latest con-job against the former players. And maybe this should be a new class action suit!

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  3. Dave Pear
    February 26th, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Dave Pear
    Gene Upshaw’s widow was paid $16,000,000 and the NFLPA leadership named their building and dire need fund after him.

    Remember Players Inc.? The NFL Players Assn. was ordered to pay $28,100,000 in damages to retired players after determining they had ignored contracts covering reimbursement for use of their images in such things as video games (Madden video) and sports trading cards. They were found guilty of “Breach of Fiduciary Duty” and “Breach of Contract.” Jurors found the union to be guilty of “malicious and oppressive conduct with evil motive,” and “conduct that was outrageous and GROSSLY FRAUDULENT.”

    It sounds like the jury was accurately describing all the parties that Burt has contacted so far.

    Certainly they always seem to have enough money especially if your last name is Upshaw or one of his minions.

    The NFLPA was convicted of breaching their fiduciary duty in federal court over signed GLA agreements with retired players and they – and the NFL – also seem to be doing the same over severance pay, disability benefits and probably anything else that involves their financial obligations long overdue to retired players.

    Retired players and their families are seeking justice now!

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  4. Burt Grossman
    February 26th, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    Burt Grossman
    Lionel,

    Are you telling me you got the same “You sent and signed three letters requesting severance upon retirement” line I got? Then I said, “No, I didn’t send you a copy of any of those letters and even if I did why did you wait 4 years to send it?” Followed by, “Oh no, wait. You didn’t. 20 months went past so we did it for you, Mr. Grossman”?

    Really? So why did it take you an additional 2 1/2 years after that initial 20 months to send it? Where did you send it? I sold that house in 1995 and you sent it there in 1998, 2 1/2 years after you so graciously filed it for me – all without even notifying me? This just can’t be real!

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  5. Irv Cross
    February 27th, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    Irv Cross
    Burt and Lionel:

    I actually received a voicemail Friday from the League office “out of the clear blue sky” asking if I had any questions about severance pay. I couldn’t make out the person’s name but I believe it was someone from Player Benefits. I called back, but failed to reach anyone. The East coast was hit by a huge snowstorm and they might have been shut down.

    Guys, let’s make an effort to find out how many eligible retirees did not receive their severance pay. Dave’s blog is a good start. Do you have Facebook and contact lists from old buddies? Let’s spread the word!

    Irv Cross
    1961 – 1969
    Philadelphia Eagles & LA Rams

  6. Dave Pear
    February 27th, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Dave & Heidi Pear
    Irv,

    Great idea! I don’t think there are many retired players who care to donate their severance pay to the NFLPA Leadership fund.

    After all, how many times have we heard our own Union leadership say, “You can complain all you want but I don’t represent you.”

    In fact, this certainly has proven to be true – NOBODY represents retired players. They just steal our money. Why would our own Union fail to inform its Retired Members about their earned Severance Pay? Why wouldn’t Severance Pay be something that players are informed about the minute they retire and then paid within a month or two (according to their own CBA)? I can’t wait to hear more from other players who are just learning about their Severance Pay for the first time.

    The NFLPA Leadership could create another phony benefit called “the Gene Upshaw Severance Pay Alert Squad.” Our Union and the League could then keep pretending to actually be interested in paying Severance Pay to who knows how many retired players that never even knew about this benefit. This could turn into another great PR stunt!

    Or, as in Burt’s case, the NFLPA suggested he contact a lawyer concerning his Severance Pay benefit that he never received. Maybe Burt’s Severance Pay went to the Upshaw estate and was part of that $16,000,000 check they recently received? They always seem to be able find the money under Gene Upshaw’s old couch cushions and they ALWAYS manage to pay it out FIRST ahead of money to such minor things like the retired players recent Players Inc. settlement checks (in fact, they said they were so “poor” they had to pay it out in two payments instead of a single lump sum.)

    In that Players Inc. trial, retired players were awarded triple damages because of our union’s “Breach of Fiduciary Duty.” So perhaps the amount due to Burt Grossman should be $160,000 instead of only $40,000? That sounds fair to me.

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  7. Burt Grossman
    February 27th, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Burt Grossman
    Too bad “fair” and “NFLPA” aren’t allowed in the same sentence…

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  8. Beverly Halton
    March 1st, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    If you played under the 1982 CBA:
    – And your last year was 1988 and you collected a severance;
    – You did not play years ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92;
    – You came back and played ’93, ’94, etc.;
    You can collect again.

    Two different systems and two different payouts. This happened to one player while I coordinated the Severance System for the NFLPA. Also, under the 1982 CBA, there were dates that a player needed to return to play in order to collect a severance. This is the Kreffley (spelling?) Rule: three-quarters payout of severance, also return dates for one-half. The NFLPA Benefits Director should have the details.

    Beverly Halton
    Former NFLPA employee

  9. Irv Cross
    March 1st, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Irv Cross
    Beverly:

    Great input – THANKS!! It looks like the severance pay issue is becoming more complex… split payouts?!!

    If anyone believes they have severance pay due, please contact your last team, the NFLPA, the NFL, or – as Burt has been advised by the NFLPA – an attorney.

    Irv Cross
    1961 – 1969
    Philadelphia Eagles & LA Rams

  10. Burt Grossman
    March 1st, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Burt Grossman
    Thanks all. In my case, I’m not a split and actually played all those years. Their issue isn’t what they owe me; every step has been fishy from the first answer all the way to a phantom payout with no documentation four years after my last season.

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  11. Dave Pear
    March 2nd, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    Dave Pear
    Hi Burt,

    Please continue to press the NFLPA Leadership for an answer!

    Don’t let these rascals off the hook.

    The last time I checked, stealing is a crime (even for the mighty NFL).

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  12. Burt Grossman
    March 2nd, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Burt Grossman
    I’m working on it, Dave. Gay Culverhouse was kind enough to contact me personally about this and is checking into it on her end also.

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  13. Burt Grossman
    March 2nd, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Burt Grossman
    Here’s the first e-mail I received before the story changed when I asked for a copy of any of these letters:

    NFLPA Letterhead
    Burt,

    In 1998, when our records indicate your Severance Pay was distributed to you,
    Severance policy required that players request their Severance pay in writing.
    That letter was to be sent to the NFL, the NFLPA and the last team the player
    played for (the team being the one to pay the check). The money could not be
    sent out without the player first submitting this request in writing.

    Therefore, our records would not indicate the money was paid out unless a letter
    was received by the NFL, the NFLPA and the Philadelphia Eagles, requesting that
    your Severance money be paid out. Again, please do not hesitate to contact me
    if you have any additional questions.

    Regards,
    Luke Patton
    Administrative Assistant
    Benefits


    And my e-mail response:

    RE: Burt Grossman Severance pay
    From: Burt Grossman
    To: Luke Patton
    Date: Thu, Feb 25, 2010 7:45 am

    Luke, I didn’t send a letter requesting severance pay, I didn’t even know severance existed until now. Can you show or produce some kind of proof of payment? Again this was never reported to the IRS or deposited in any account I own. I guess you’re suggesting I involve my lawyer? I didn’t receive, sign or endorse anything pertaining to severance, and if you insist I did, could you please produce one piece of proof that I received this check randomly 4 years after my leaving football?

    Burt Grossman

    Then of course since there was never any request from me, they changed the story to: “They did it for you as policy dictates 20 months after your last game.” Of course, I said, “Then if that’s true, why are you saying you sent it out 48 months later?!!”

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  14. Beverly Halton
    March 2nd, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    Burt:

    The NFLPA Benefits Department developed an “Exit Letter” for any player who “recently” retired from football. This letter spelled out what benefits the player was entitled to. I would suggest that you have the NFLPA Benefits Department produce that letter along with any other correspondence regarding your severance payout. The NFLPA Benefits’ Director should be able to give you an answer.

    Beverly Halton
    Former employee – NFLPA Retired Players Dept.

  15. Burt Grossman
    March 2nd, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    Burt Grossman
    Thanks, Beverly. I tried and there’s nothing they can offer or produce as proof!

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  16. Henry Bradley
    March 8th, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    Henry Bradley
    I asked for help with my severance pay about two months ago but to no avail. I talked to Beverly Halton years ago about the situation and she tried to help. However, I believed she was strongly encouraged to leave it alone. Mrs. Halton, you are very special to me because you tried to help. It would be nice to hear from you.

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1982