The NFL’s Double Standard for Older Retired Players
We posted earlier about Larry Kaminski‘s recent California Workers’ Comp suit (click HERE to read that post) and Larry had mentioned his letters from the NFL Management Council and the NFL Benefits Plan telling him that he had missed his deadlines and everything else in between that would – naturally – make him disqualified for benefits from them. The letters are from a typical Who’s Who when it comes to turning older retired players down: Paul Scott, Sarah Gaunt, Miki Yaras-Davis, Valerie Cross. For the older players, there has been so little information information and assistance available over the years (intentionally so) that many are finding themselves excluded once again excluded from their earned benefits through a maze of Byzantine rules and bureaucracy.
But it does seem that more of the younger retired players ARE getting approved for benefits. One recently retired player told us that he received his disability benefits in a matter of weeks after applying this fall. And former Redskins running back Eric Shelton did successfully receive football degenerative benefits recently for a permanent spine injury from a helmet-to-helmet injury but was actually turned down for the higher Total-and-Permanent Disability Benefit. Shelton is now suing for his higher benefits through attorney Cy Smith, who was instrumental in winning the Mike Webster case (along with Bob Fitzsimmons). You can read the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz coverage on that suit by clicking HERE. The older players are glad to see some of these men get their earned benefits; at least it reinforces the process for some. But the time for eliminating the double standards and admitting that the old approach passed long before Gene Upshaw left the building. A complete overhaul of the rules and application process is well overdue. As long as this has been going on, we’re surprised this hasn’t been the focus of an age-discrimination lawsuit.
Here are copies of Larry’s letters uploaded on Scribd for easier viewing and to make it downloadable. You can 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: