Real Life After Football

Jul 18, 2011

With the Hall of Fame ceremonies coming up once again, we have more stories on the lives of retired players that the League and the Union can no longer hide. And who better to let everyone know about what really goes on behind the scenes in the lives of retired players than to hear it from Hall-of-Famer Joe DeLameilleure? Unfortunately, Joe De’s story is more the norm among retired players than current players like Drew Brees would ever care to acknowledge or challenge:
Most people seem to think that anyone who played in the NFL is wealthy. In today’s world, that’s probably true – but not for the guys who played before 1993. As one of those pre-’93 guys, I feel passionate about improving pensions and benefits for all retired players.
In the early 90’s, I had the NFLPA check out somebody that I was thinking of doing business with and they endorsed him as a financial advisor. Ultimately, he ended up going to prison for embezzlement. And my family lost almost $300,000. In the years that have passed – by the grace of God – we were able to pull ourselves out of a deep, dark financial home (but that’s another long, terrible story for another day). Like the rest of you, we deal with mortgages, car payments, medical bills and education loans monthly. So far, we’ve been fortunate not to be dealing with any physical disabilities that prevent us from being able to work. We’re fine living in our middle-class neighborhood and driving 5+ year-old vehicles that we’re still making payments on.
We don’t need – or have:

  • $19 million in deferred compensation
  • $2+ million in a checking account
  • 8 luxury vehicles
  • 1 yacht
  • 2+ expensive homes.

(NOTE: These were only some of the assets listed in Gene Upshaw’s estate.)
We DO need:

  • A little dignity
  • Some respect
  • Medical benefits
  • And a decent pension that we can actually live on.

Like most of you, I took my retirement pension early at 45 on the advice of the NFLPA; they had told us that the average football player died at 54 1/2. And in doing so, I apparently also waived any access to my earned disability benefits although I was never informed of that rule by my own Union! So for my 13 years in the NFL, my pension is $1,247.96 a month – BEFORE taxes.
In 2003, I was blessed and proud to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What a thrill of a lifetime! But later I was shocked to learn that about 20 of the other Hall-of-Famers receive pensions LESS THAN $200 a month – and that’s before taxes! Baseball, Basketball and Hockey – heck, even Golf! – have better pensions than Football. Yet football is the most lucrative sport in the world.
We’re a generation of “Forgotten but not Gone” retired players. We know we’ve earned better pensions than we’re allowed to receive. As retired players, we need drastic improvements to the way we access our pensions and benefits. In a $9+ BILLION industry, it’s not only possible – but a travesty and an embarrassment – that we’re prevented from receiving what we’ve earned from our past contributions to today’s game.
Joe DeLamielleure
Pre-’93 player
NFL Hall of Fame 2003
And a followup came in this morning from Shannon Jordan with Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund on their assistance to Dora and Gordon Wright in Florida (you can read that earlier post by clicking HERE).
Great news! With the help of many good people, we have been able to source a new HVAC unit for the Wrights who have been living in Orlando in 105-degree heat without air for a full year. Hearing her voice when we told her it would be installed tomorrow was why we do what we do!
A friend of ours donated the HVAC to be installed for the Wrights free-of-charge and GGAF will pick up the tab for the installation. It will be going in tomorrow or Wednesday. They’re elated and feel the relief already!
I’ll update you on their other elements when I know more today. I’ve found a few caregiver relief options for Dora so things are moving on that front. They have their CBS interview today and I know they’re so grateful to you, Dave, for posting her letter and thankful they are getting some help. Have a great day!
Kind regards,
Shannon Jordan
Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund
(847) 509-3086 office

6 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. RobertinSeattle
    July 18th, 2011 at 11:42 pm #


    Just a short note to add to Shannon’s update: Thanks to all who have sent in their donations for Dora and Gordon. Some of you have sent your donations directly to them and others have sent them through the site. We’ll be getting funds to them as quickly as they clear and we’ll keep you updated on their progress.


  2. Reggie Harrison aka Kamal Salaam-El
    July 19th, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    Reggie Harrison


    I guess I received the same letter that a lot of our former players are getting from TransAmerica. “After careful consideration, we are unable to offer coverage due to spinal stenosis, status post back surgeries, currently treated with daily narcotic pain medications and daily use of a motorized scooter and a cane”.

    I thought this insurance was for former players. Did anybody get out of the League unharmed, without something screwed up in their body? I understand George Martin may have worked hard to get this insurance but this is a joke.

    Reggie Harrison
    Kamal Salaam-El
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1974 – 1977

  3. Richard Trapp, Esq.
    July 19th, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Richard Trapp FSU

    I am a former player and an attorney in Orlando. Please have the Wrights call me. I would be happy to help if I can.

    Richard Trapp
    (407) 481-0061
    Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers
    1968 – 1969

  4. Rick Sanford
    July 19th, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Rick Sanford NE Patriots

    Thanks to Joe for a great response regarding the plight of all pre-1993ers. Dignity and respect would go a long way. I am sure all of us are appreciative of Joe’s remarks.

    Thanks to Dave and others like Jeff Nixon, Bruce Laird, Coach Mike Ditka and many others who continue the fight for our earned rights. I appreciate everything that each of you have done and continue to do.

    Rick Sanford
    New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks
    1979 – 1985

  5. Daniel L. Reece
    July 19th, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Danny Reece

    I was denied due to lack of recall! After 4 major concussions who could recall anything. This was a ploy from the owners from the start. The question again is why? We were once the hunters and are now the hunted – we seem to be their new prey!

    Bring back the economic boycott in a flash mob fashion and they will stop their sick game of Hunt the Old Gladiators.

    You may laugh but did you get your long-term disability?

    Daniel L. Reece
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1976 – 1980

  6. Dave Pear
    July 19th, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Dave Pear


    How can the NFLPA endorse financial advisors for retired players who gets sent to jail for embezzlement? Yours was certainly not the first story we’ve heard about Upshaw’s buddies being recommended to retired players.

    I am so sorry for the hardship this has caused you and your family. I know you raised 9 children so our phony union not only ripped off you and your loyal wife Jeri of 39 years for $300,000 but also your children.

    I wonder if Gene Upshaw got a cut of your family money?

    But this sordid mess comes as no surprise. Remember the Players Inc. Trial? Retired players were awarded $28,100,000 in damages in federal court for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.

    The jurors found the NFLPA Leadership guilty of such phrases as “malicious and oppressive conduct with evil motive” and “conduct that was outrageous and GROSSLY fraudulent.

    The problem is these same convicted swindlers are still employed by the union and have since even received raises in their paychecks according to the latest LM-2’s!

    Then the Union named their building “UPSHAW PLACE,” gave his estate $16,000,000 and renamed the dire need fund “the Gene Upshaw Dire Need Fund.” And as you stated, his estate even received millions more dollars annually in deferred compensation. (Who says crime doesn’t pay?) In any other corporate situation in America, heads would roll, the FBI would step in and people would be sent to prison.

    When will this fraud cease and when will the Groom Law Group be fired and sued for misconduct and fraud for designing and creating the current disability scam?

    Dave & Heidi Pear