Merv Krakau: A Letter to the NFL & the NFLPA

Feb 2, 2011

Dear Mr. Goodell and Mr. Smith:


My name is Merv Krakau, a 6-year (1973 – 1978) former NFL player (Buffalo & New England). I am considered one of the NFL-NFLPA illegitimate sons (Pre-93).


It is very hard for me to comprehend why I should even have to be writing this letter. Why is it that no one wants to take responsibility and do what is right? It has been 18 years that your illegitimate sons have been forgotten. The NFL and NFLPA have turned their backs on those who helped pave the way to the golden highway that both the owners and the current players now enjoy driving down.


When is enough, enough? I feel very proud of the fact that I got to live my dream of playing in the NFL. But now, because of GREED, ARROGANCE and STUBBORNNESS I see the great game of football that I loved possibly being ruined. You have the opportunity to do what is right, you have the opportunity to rectify the injustice that has been committed against the former players, especially your illegitimate sons. How long of a sentence do we have to serve before we reap some of the benefits from the popularity of football that we helped build?


Will you continue the tradition of Delay, Deny, Hope They Die?  Or will you get to the negotiating table, stay 24/7 if needed, get a deal completed, correct the injustice and get back to playing the great game of NFL football?


Merv Krakau
Buffalo Bills & New England Patriots




11 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Bruce Jarvis
    February 2nd, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Bruce Jarvis

    Hi Dave,

    Merv Krakau came unheralded out of Iowa State to the Bills. The opposite of the loud, self-promoting player, Merv let his soft-spoken Midwestern style lead by example. Whether he was making the defensive calls as a middle linebacker, busting the wedge on kickoffs or just being the voice of reason in team meetings, Merv looked past the hype of the moment to clearly see the bigger picture.

    NFL owners, today’s active players and the leaders of the NFLPA would do well to heed his words.

    Bruce Jarvis
    Buffalo Bills

  2. Dave Pear
    February 2nd, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    In 2008, Gene Upshaw & Harold Henderson signed a back room side deal that eliminated any retroactive benefits for disabled retired players (“coincidentally” just before offering limited disability benefits in a special offer to players like me).

    Gene did not wait until the CBA to further swindle and cheat disabled players.

    That being the case, why does De Smith continue to say there is nothing he can do until the CBA?

    According to disability attorney John Hogan, Mr. Smith can make changes IMMEDIATELY!

    Credulity means the same thing as gullibility.

    But retired players are no longer gullible or naive to the schemes of the League and our Union against retired players.

    Our willingness to believe or trust too readily – especially without proper or adequate evidence – is gone. Remember that Players Inc. lawsuit?

    Changes in the illegal disability plan (scheme) cam be made immediately. Especially the arbitrary 15 year rule.

    So why does our Union still insist on continuing to conspire against the pre-1993 retired players, even with lawyers now in charge?

    Dave & Heidi Pear

  3. Lou Piccone
    February 2nd, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Lou Piccone

    Hey Merv,

    Great to see your face and know that the message is one that has been unifying the Pre-93’ers: Illegitimate sons! WC would be PROUD!

    I just wanted to say dido! and ‘Hello’ from a guy that you used to chase around on KO’s & Returns. Keep the fires burning because there’s 10,000 or more of us out here to make noise until WE GET COMPENSATED FOR LINE-OF-DUTY PAY.

    You know that there’s a saying that goes something like this: GOD PAYS BUT NOT NECESSARILY ON PAY DAY!

    Lou Piccone
    New York Jets 74-76
    Buffalo Bills 77-83

  4. Ken Valdiserri
    February 2nd, 2011 at 11:39 am #


    I thought you would be amused/interested to see the list of NFL/NFLPA labor issues listed in which the league and union differ in opinion… these were listed by the most recent Sports Business Journal from Daniel Kaplan.

    Sporting News
    Click HERE to read the list.

    Where, pray tell, is there any mention of retired player health care and a fund for retired players which is to be negotiated into the new CBA?

    I assume by not mentioning this as one of the issues, an agreement and understanding has been reached on how the League will take care of retired players in need?

    Hope you’re well and a good New Year to you!

    Ken Valdiserri

  5. Reggie Rucker
    February 2nd, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Reggie Rucker

    How many of you have had this happen: I was doing business with my banker (refinancing my home) and I was required to bring my financial documents which included my pension. As the banker looked over my finances, he looked up at me and said, “What is this Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle revenue for $16,000 dollars?”

    I said, “It’s my pension from the NFL.”

    He said, “Didn’t you play a long time?” and I replied, “Yes, 13 years!”

    He said, “Mr. Rucker, is that all you get?!!”

    Let me tell you, for the first time that I can remember, I felt so embarrassed. I felt betrayed again. And this time because someone completely outside the realm of this whole mess instantly understood that this was wrong. How can this be?

    Yeah, as brother Merv said: It’s wrong. Somebody is going to have to do the right thing!

    Reggie Rucker
    Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns
    1970 – 1981

  6. John Stofa
    February 2nd, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    John Stofa

    Merv, WELL Written! Your thoughts represent our feelings!

    John Stofa
    Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos
    1966 – 1970

  7. Rick Sanford
    February 2nd, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Rick Sanford NE Patriots

    Thank you, Merv.

    All of us pre-1993ers appreciate your recommendations. Let’s see what our Union does for us. We will surely find out soon whether we will be treated to our long overdue benefits.

    Mr. Smith, we are all watching.

    Rick Sanford
    New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks
    1979 – 1985

  8. Lou Piccone
    February 2nd, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Lou Piccone

    Ken –

    I looked at the list of issues on the table and for the first time, I am VERY disappointed. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… got a good laugh however. It’s truly a tragedy. Does De smith and all of the so-called retired player representatives believe that the history of the game and the Players who built this game are really going to stand for the same deception again?

    Maybe Mr. Smith should be referred to as Mr. DeCeption from now on. Just as Iddy á Gene sold us out through that Past, Present and Future he pitched us all on. Their new All-In-One-Locker-Room has no meaning because we’re not in anyone’s locker room – or in anyone’s roster or apparently even on anyone’s CBA List of Important Issues to be addressed, for that matter.

    I hope that through all of the Retired Players Advocacy Troops, we can rally around a new mantra such as, “We Miss This One – We’re Done” or “Let us Play… in your New CBA” or “One For All, All for Me”

    …you get the idea.

    Lou Piccone

  9. Gordon Wright
    February 2nd, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets


    Thanks for a well-written opinion on NFL historical facts!

    Check out the fact that back in 1970, the Steeler’s got a whopping Three Million Dollars to merge into the AFC Conference. Meanwhile, the NFL Pension being paid to the Pre-’93 retired players in 2011 is still based on wages and cost-of-living from 1970! Even the Banks have raised their FDIC deposits since then!

    I feel Merv and Rucker’s Pain!

    Gordon & Dora Wright
    Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets
    1967 – 1970

  10. Ray Bracken
    February 2nd, 2011 at 6:24 pm #


    First, thanks for sharing the awful way the older retired players are being treated. I see two ways to deal with the older guys needing help:

    One is with management taking a percentage of gross proceeds first to finance past players’ benefits. It’s the only help for every player who retires. Plus putting more players under contract for the 18 games. Bring the total number of players up to 65 on the field and management will be glad to settle for 60 players. Plus paying the players more if they play any kind of games in a foreign country. To start the retirement pool, have those fat cats put in a few hundred million in the beginning. I know all too well that the youngsters want all the money they win on contracts to go to “NUMERO UNO” (themselves) for all the hard work (NOT!) that they do.

    I’m sorry if I sound off like this but for years I’ve wondered why you guys settled for less than “free agency.” Similar to baseball and while I’m at this, I’m sure you’ve asked the brothers in baseball how to overcome some of your problems. My thoughts are made in true love and affection for all those heroes who are out of the game of football today. Thank you so much for allowing me have a very tiny say.

    Best of luck to all of you.

    Ray Bracken
    Retired UAW

  11. Gerald Truehart
    February 3rd, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I believe the owners and the Union need to step up to the plate and do the right and just thing. Give all pre-’93 players the health and increased pension that they have already given their blood and health for.

    Don’t be a loser, owners and Union!

    Gerald Truehart