The Honeymoon’s Over

May 23, 2010

Memo to DeMaurice Smith,

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Your statement as recently quoted in The Charlotte Observer, “The rift we had in the past with our former players is over,” said Smith. “It is done.” is simply not true. (You can read the article by clicking HERE.) NOTHING could be further from the truth. Where did you come up with this conjecture?

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Your new appointment of Robert Smith to the disability board to replace Tom Mr. Conflict-of-Interest Condon was another example of the intent of the NFLPA Leadership to continue business as usual (also known as the Upshaw-Way-or-the-Highway). From the statements Smith is already making, he sounds even worse than Condon! (If that’s possible!)

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Is he qualified? Just exactly what are the “qualifications” to be a voting member of the Retirement Board for disability benefits? Just who appoints these rascals to be voting members of the disability board because they certainly aren’t elected. And why aren’t there term limits and a transparent process for selecting them?

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Listen to this clip from a 2008 interview on the Dan le Batard Show between Kyle Turley and Robert Smith (this is the family-friendly version with a two-second expletive from Kyle clipped out – a hat tip to Brent Boyd for sending this along). And Smith is the retired player they felt would understand retired players’ disability issues? And Thanks to Kyle for saying what a lot of retired players haven’t been able to say! (Click the PLAY> arrow on the player to listen to the clip.)

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And how about the other two NFLPA “representatives” on the 6-member Disability Board? Are they there to vote fairly on behalf of the retired players or protect the interests of the NFL(PA)? Dave Duerson has a history of bad business ventures and domestic violence. He was forced to resign from the Notre Dame Board of Trustees but the issue never came up with regard to his seat on the Disability Board (!). Ever. Mr. Smith, tell us why any retired player should have one shred of confidence in his votes regarding decisions on issues that their lives depend on?

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Duerson in better days

“Two years ago, to say that Dave (Duerson) was one of the most respected alumni of Our Lady’s university would not have been an exaggeration. But after a domestic violence incident, Dave was forced to resign from Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees. Then a year later, his once strong company, Duerson Foods, was forced into receivership. And neither the marital nor financial side of Duerson’s story appear headed toward happy endings; his house is up for foreclosure in October, and last month he filed for divorce from his wife, after twenty-four years of marriage. Not to mention as an NFL Union rep, he is now arguing with none other than Mike Ditka about veteran’s benefits.”

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From the blog Fighting Irish Thomas: Catholicism, Politics, Saints and Notre Dame. (Click HERE to read the full post.)

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Then there’s Jeff Van Note who is still bought and paid for today by the Atlanta Falcons as an announcer while also working for the NFLPA on the Disability Board. It seems that there are absolutely no rules regarding conflicts of interest when it comes to the NFLPA OR the NFL.

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Please explain the qualifications for this position. Or better yet: What makes these particular choices so qualified as to be irreplaceable? Thank you for your prompt response.

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Dave & Heidi Pear

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8 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. RobertinSeattle
    May 23rd, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    RobertinSeattle
    I want to be the first to nominate Kyle Turley for a position on the Disability Board!

  2. EARL THOMAS
    May 24th, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    Earl Thomas
    I think back on the old days when I was part of an original strike against the NFL. Players would actually sneak in at night because none of us were making any real money then; our wives would demand we go in and protect what little salaries we were being paid!

    I respect your ability to get information out to players but do you think it helps our cause? Can we become part of a solution to help the cause?

    There are two facts that I’m certain of: No one else seems to care about retired players and every current player is just one play away from being a retired player.

    Earl Thomas
    Chicago Bears, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Oilers
    1971 – 1976

  3. RobertinSeattle
    May 24th, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Earl -

    Great comment and a history lesson on life and reality.

    Sometimes it’s important to identify the problem(s) clearly first before proposing clear solutions. Without everyone knowing what’s been done to you in the past, shaping a real solution will be like trying to hit a moving target. And in this case, there are so many problems that they’ve created over the years, it’s looking more like the entire system and process needs to be thrown out and completely overhauled.

    We could also point out that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. With the communication tools we have today, only now are more and more of the retired player community finally getting the details of what these people have done to you for years. Many depend on the news and information that’s finally coming out to form a better idea of what has been going on and to develop an informed opinion.

    Cutting off a fingernail won’t cure a cancer that’s spread all over. And the corruption has been festering for decades.

  4. Dave Pear
    May 24th, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    Dave Pear Superbowl Ring
    John,

    You’re absolutely correct!

    The current disability debacle in the NFL is a TOTAL failure and has never worked and it never will. It was designed by the Groom Law Group to illegally deny disabled players their disability benefits and to them and their families and that it does well.

    De Smith called me months ago (as he apparently did with many other retired players who have told me the same thing) and asked what needs to be done to correct the disability debacle and I told him but obviously he wasn’t listening (but he did “agree” with me originally).

    The newest member of the disability board Robert Smith is yet another attempt to violate disabled players’ rights. Nowhere in Corporate America is there a disability plan that is this corrupt.

    Robert Smith is not qualified to be on the disability board and he’s being paid not to understand.

    When will the NFL have a disability plan that follows ERISA Law and pays valid medical claims?

    If De Smith or Robert Smith were injured the first day on their job with the NFLPA would they expect disability benefits? What if they could no longer work and were told they could still work at some “sedentary job” (that does not exist) by a quack NFL doctor who is not a trained vocational specialist would they quietly go away and apply for welfare?

    No way! They would demand their rights the same way disabled players are demanding theirs.

    Robert Smith’s comment on common sense in his radio interview with Kyle Turley clearly shows that he (Smith) isn’t qualified and has no understanding how of disability programs in Corporate America works (so why did they pick him?).

    Oh, I almost forgot, the NFL plays by their own rules.

    Retired players are not going to take it any more!

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  5. Greg Koch
    May 24th, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Greg Koch

    The problem we have as former players is that we’re a paper tiger – and one with no teeth. Until we get the current players on board and make them realize that they’re being sold a bill of goods and that they are in fact only one play away from being an alumni, then we have no pull.

    Plus, we need to better educate the public.

    Greg Koch
    Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings
    1977 – 1987

  6. Gregg Bingham
    May 29th, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Greg Bingham
    >>>Plus, we need to better educate the public.>>>

    You are correct, Cookie… One of my life tenets is “Never fight a man who buys his ink by the gallon.” That said, remember that 30 years ago it was very cool to smoke cigarettes but over time those who buy their ink by the gallon changed all that and now it is considered taboo. Thus the owners MUST be afraid that if they don’t do the right thing on this issue, the media will jump on them like bees on honey. And they’ll realize that if public opinion goes against them then they could be guilty of killing the goose that laid the golden egg – aka demand for football – just like cigarettes. It could happen. The problem is getting the media on board because I can hear the CEO’s and publishers now saying to their editors, “We won’t run that story or this story. Without football to write about we too will be out of a job too!!!

    Gregg Bingham
    Houston Oilers
    1973 -1984

  7. Markus Koch
    June 3rd, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Markus Koch
    Without a doubt, our disability benefits system is badly flawed. To hear the NFLPA’s side of it, when they get an application, they always vote “yes” and the League board always votes “no” and blocks the application into the appeals process. As in my own case, I broke my back while playing and now have severe radiating pain and numbness in both legs. I applied for and was denied benefits because the league doctor (James Glick) stated that I was capable of finding “sedentary work.” No disability benefits for yours truly.

    That said, I still believe that as former players, our best chance for gaining any compensation from the league owners is through a strong and cohesive union. I myself do not possess the personal resources to pursue an independent claim through the legal system.

    There is, however, strength in numbers, and though our union still has issues such as transparency and due process, it (the NFLPA) has the distinct ability to represent both current and former players… and that is our ultimate strength. It is through the backing of current players that we actually gain some “teeth”, muscle and leverage to have our post-football struggles addressed in an appropriate and timely manner.

    Let’s face it, guys – most former players have little or no clout to affect policy on post-football health issues by themselves. We need the backing of current players to have our issues be relevant to the mass media and entertainment giant that is today’s NFL. Current players are who give us our teeth. And who but a players’ union has the common interest and ability to unite past and present workers (players)?

    The NFLPA may not yet be the perfectly cohesive and functioning organization that we want it to be. What will it take to make it better? Participation, that’s what. As we all know, it’s easy to stand on the sidelines and bicker about the play on the field. And, things always look very different when we are actually on the field and have a part to play. Now granted, it’s fun to watch from the sidelines and enjoy the feeling of our jaws flapping. However, it’s only through direct participation in the game that we can have an effect on the outcome.

    The best way to change the function and nature of any organization is from within. Don’t like what’s happening with the Union? Get involved in a concrete manner. Go to Union meetings in your area, attend the convention, call the head office and give them an ear full, and above all… talk to the current players and let them know what life after football is really like! Uniting current and former players, with us “old dudes” in a mentorship role is ultimately what is going to give us the leverage necessary to get the league owners to look after the players who make (and made) the game come alive.

    Got an issue with the union? Do what you did when you were a player… take it on heads up and up front. Join the game! Get your butt on the field and help us win!

    Markus Koch
    Redskins ’86-’91
    Vice President, Seattle Chapter NFLPA

  8. Danny
    June 18th, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    With the current NFL lockout looming, I’ve been impressed with the way DeMaurice Smith has handled the whole thing: How he has fought on the players behalf etc. But I’m a little distraught to find out he isn’t working as hard for the retired players, as this post claims. I feel like making excuses for him, but that would be foolish. I don’t know enough of the situation or Mr. Smith’s position on this topic, and no matter the excuses it can’t soothe the pain former NFL players needing assistance go through.

    Danny