Gordon Wright: 66 and Still Waiting

Oct 15, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gordon Wright played for four seasons: 1967 – 1968 for the Philadelphia Eagles and then 1969 – 1971 for the New York Jets. Like most retired players, Gordon’s been trying to access his full disability and pension benefits for years now and it’s finally reached the courts.

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One of the dumbest arguments that the NFL has tried to use against Gordon was that he hadn’t played for 4 seasons even though he was officially placed on Injured Reserve with the Eagles. In a surprising act of generosity, Eagles’ owner, Jerry Wolman, even paid him a paycheck to protect and prove his eligibility (but his paycheck bounced and then Wolman filed for bankruptcy protection!). (Read Document 4 below and you’ll see the Eagles’ attendance record as signed off by Dr. Nixon.) As part of the years-long “application” process, Gordon has provided medical records, news articles, as well as firsthand collaboration from his old teammates (including Joe Namath and Mike Ditka). So here we have someone who has actually provided perfect paperwork, lots of documentation, medical support from the NFL’s own doctors, owner and team support along with full qualification under the Plan’s own strictest definitions.

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And he STILL gets turned down!

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Gordon was finally forced to sue everyone including the Eagles.

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Here’s a short overview from Gordon on his experience – we’re posting lots of his documentation. You could write a textbook study on Gordon’s case.

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I’ll start with some comments I posted to a Corporate Responsibility Magazine story about Mike Ditka:

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“I played 1967, 68 for the Philadelphia Eagles & 1969 & 1970 for the New York Jets. I guarded Joe Namath as an offensive guard. We were the 1969 Eastern Conference Winners. I am now 66 years old and I am totally disabled and at home every day with my wife and family. I do not want charity. All I want is to be paid for the 1968 season or receive my pension. Every time I ask for my pension or to be paid for the 1968 Season, the NFLPA lawyers write back to tell me I am not eligible for the 1968 Season because I did not play the full year. Or I was not paid so I am not eligible for the 1968 Season or my pension. They say I only played three years. In 2002, Philadelphia Eagles team doctor James Nixon sent my medical records to my mother and my wife showing I was injured and put on injured reserve for the 1968 season. My wife and mother wrote the NFLPA on my behalf and sent my medical records from the 1968 team doctor but even the NFLPA has continued to deny me my benefits. I was recently denied again in August of 2007.”

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Read the entire Corporate Responsibility article from 2008 by clicking HERE.

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I signed a binding NFL player contract in 1967 & 1968. It was for $13,000.00 dollars for each season and a total of $26,000.00 (that’s twenty-six THOUSAND dollars, NOT two hundred sixty thousand or twenty-six million)! But I was still only paid for the 1967 season! The owner – Jerry Wolman of the Philadelphia Eagles – filed for bankruptcy. So he actually only paid me for the 1967 season but never paid me for the 1968 season. Then I had an NFL contract with the New York Jets 1969, 1970 and 1971 – and they paid me.

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But I still can’t get any of these people to pay me my full benefits either – almost 40 years later!

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And Miki Yaras-Davis flat-out lied to me when I was told I had to gather documented proof that I was on injured reserve in 1968 in order to get my NFL Pension Pennies. She told me she had the records from Gene Upshaw proving I was under contract and on injured reserve. She then used the documents against me and denied me my Pension. Miki Yaras-Davis has enriched herself at the retired players’ expense. I pray every day for her to be in the same condition as the players she and the Doug Ells have robbed.

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Gordon Wright

Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets

1967 – 1971

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We’ve been uploading Gordon’s documentation to Scribd for easier reading. Click on the FULL SCREEN button to enlarge it for easier navigation – hit the ESC key to close. You can also click the DOWNLOAD button to save a PDF copy for printing and reading later.

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Gordon Wright Documentation Part 1

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Gordon Wright Documentation Part 2

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Gordon Wright Documentation Part 3

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Gordon Wright Documentation Part 4

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Gordon Wright Documentation Part 5

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3 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. George Visger
    October 16th, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    George Visger
    Gordon,

    I feel your pain, brother. We were all indoctrinated into a sport where the team is more valuable than the self. With this mindset, we gave all we had with the expectations that we would receive the same in return.

    What the criminal NFL, Miki Yaras-Davis, Roger Goodell and others have done to you and other discarded pieces of meat the NFL has tossed to the sidelines is sinful. Of course, when you’re knocking down 6- and 7-figure salaries, one doesn’t need to worry about the same issues you and many others face.

    It’s time we all come together and circle the wagons like we did on the field, to use our strengths to right this wrong.

    They’re not only destroying ex-players but their families as well. The ripple effect is huge.

    Your brother in this fight.
    George Visger
    Brain Damaged Wildlife Biologist
    San Francisco 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  2. Dave Pear
    October 16th, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    Dave Pear Superbowl Ring
    Gordon,

    Our Union, the NFLPA Leadership AND the Bell/Rozelle Retirement Board all continue to act in bad faith under the watchful guidance of their lawyers. The Retirement Board does not follow the legal requirements of ERISA Law and the NFLPA Leadership continues to Breach their Fiduciary Duty on Disability Benefits for retired players as they participate in this swindle! Our Union has NOT stood up for the rights of their retired members.

    Retired NFL players are not going away – we have nowhere else to go!

    However, we continue to see our union rubber stamp and act in bad faith as far as retired players are concerned.

    When will this fraud cease and restitution finally be paid to retired players such as Gordon Wright?

    And to Cody and Lionel – thanks for the kind words in that earlier post. We’re certainly not the first and we won’t be the last when it comes to being angry enough to point out all the problems publicly. This is truly a team effort on everyone’s part to show the world what the words ‘team’ and ‘family’ are really supposed to mean.

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  3. Gordon A. Wright
    October 17th, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I would like to officially state my gratitude publicly by saying thank you to Dave & Heidi Pear and his team of writers, editors and all who so graciously spend their precious time helping former Professional Football Players who are being forgotten by the AFL/NFL Owners, Commissioners and Fans!

    I wish the fans and the public would all support the Disabled Former Players the way they support all worthy causes like Cancer, Heart Association, United Way and other equally worthy causes. I just wish every fan and each American citizen would support the former players who were paid small money and who are now in their late 60′s+ who are barely living from their modest Social Security Pensions. And I wish the fans would protest against the NFL owners’ sick treatment of their former players who gave them so much joy and great memories from the 60′s and earlier.

    Thanks to all who support the builders of the AFL/NFL!

    Gordon Wright & Family
    Philadelphia Eagles New York Jets

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