Comparing Apples and Lemons

Aug 17, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: We just received a copy of another e-mail that was sent out by Jim McFarland, a non-voting member of the NFLPA Former Players Executive Committee. Jim expresses his concerns with key issues that the Union appears to have “negotiated” on behalf of Retired Players (while they were no longer a Union) and he sounds like he’s just as surprised to finally hear about them as the rest of you… His e-mail to NFLPA counsel, Tom Depaso, is added to the bottom of this post.
And on and on it goes. Dave just received one more enlightening e-mail from NFLPA’s Dave Duerson replacement, Sam McCullum, this morning with more “clarification” on their Coming Soon Improvements to Retired Players Benefits á la NFLPA. Here it is in its unedited form:
From: Sam McCullum
Date: Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 9:59 AM
Subject: FW: Legacy Benefit Memorandum
Sorry about the rush of information today, but as I shared at the meeting last night the pace has picked up and with the August 18th action date being tomorrow, everyone wants to be heard and have a voice. Here is NFLPA team’s rational for their position. As I said in my earlier e-mail, it is possible/likely that the final decision date will be extended. Will keep you informed.
Subject: Legacy Benefit Memorandum
To: Former Players Board of Directors
Re: Legacy Fund
Date: August 16, 2011
With the signing of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement on August 4th, the NFLPA solidified the establishment of the Legacy Benefit (“Benefit”) to provide increased pensions under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan for vested players with Credited Seasons prior to 1993. The NFL is now obligated to pay $620m over the life of the 10-year CBA to fund these increased pension benefits, with 49% of that amount being a player benefit cost under the active player cost cap and the remaining 51% being funded by the NFL outside of the player cost cap.
The final task is to determine how much and to whom this Benefit is to be paid. The NFLPA has received and reviewed numerous proposals in this regard from the NFL, many former players, the NFLPA Executive Committee, and the Former Players Board of Directors. We have carefully considered all of the proposals that have been made to determine what would be the most equitable way to pay out this Benefit. After reviewing these proposals, we plan to recommend to the NFL that they agree to pay the Legacy Benefit as follows:

  • All Players who vested under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan prior to 1993 would get an increase in their monthly benefit credit amounts for each pre-1993 season earned of $114 per month (e.g. – if a player had 10 Credited Seasons from 1983 to 1992, his Legacy Benefit would be $1,140 per month at age 55. This amount would then be added to his existing monthly benefit credit amount of $255 per month at age 55 or $2,550 for 10 seasons, for a new monthly benefit of $3,690 per month).
  • A player who currently has a monthly benefit of less than $500 per month (excluding those who got divorced and are subject to a QUADRO order) would have his monthly benefit increased to a $500 per month floor. This $500 per month floor would be the base upon which the Legacy Benefit credit amounts would be added (e.g., If a player with four Credited Seasons had a monthly pension benefit of $250 because he took an early payment option, he would first be brought up to the $500 monthly floor and then he would receive $456 for the increased benefit credit amounts (4 x $114) which would give him an overall increase from $250 to $956 per month). A total of 535 players will benefit from having this $500 per month floor. We recognize that some former players have indicated that players who took early payment options should not benefit from their decision. However, it is important to remember that these men are part of the NFLPA family and many of these men badly need this increased benefit at a time when they can no longer work.

Significantly, this proposal would allow players who played both before and after 1993 to get a pension increase, but only if they vested prior to 1993 and only for Credited Seasons they earned before 1993. By allowing players who played both before and after 1993 we will be helping more players with increased pensions. In fact, if we were to limit the Benefit to only those players who completed their careers before 1993, we would be providing increased pensions for 4,101 players. However, if we include those players who vested before 1993 but played in years after 1993, then the number of players receiving increased pensions would increase by 749 players to a total of 4,850 players.
By basing the Legacy Benefit on the number of Credited Seasons played, establishing a floor of $500 per month and including players who vested before 1993 but played afterwards, we are maximizing our goal of helping as many players we can with Credited Seasons prior to 1993.
We specifically do NOT recommend that only vested players who finished their careers prior to 1993 receive a flat amount per month since pension benefits have always been based on the number of credited seasons played and players’ pensions should reflect their years of service in the NFL. Moreover, it would leave out players who played both before and after 1993 and virtually ignore their service in the NFL prior to 1993. It is therefore not an equitable way to divide the Legacy Benefit among those players with Credited Seasons prior to 1993.
Here’s our simpler comparison chart comparing what the Retired Players in the current Eller class action have proposed to what the NFLPA has disclosed so far (click on the chart to enlarge for easier viewing). We’ll continue updating information as it comes in:

Retirees Proposals vs Original NFLPA Proposals

And this is why we continue asking all retired players to sign on to our Declaration of Independence (if you haven’t already done so) and to pass it along to all of your teammates who haven’t done so yet:
[form declaration]
From: Jim McFarland
Subject: Objections to Legacy Benefit Proposal

Dear Tom et al.
Thank you for your work on the negotiations with regard to the Legacy Fund distribution. I appreciate your explanation to our Former Players Board of Directors conference call this afternoon. I know these negotiations are difficult.
Although I was in my doctor’s office at the time of the call and spoke with my doctor at times during the call, it is my understanding that the basic proposal for the Legacy Fund distribution is as follows:
1. All players who have 4 or more credited seasons prior to 1993, including those “bridge” players who may have had additional credited seasons in 1993 and afterward as well, would qualify for the Legacy Benefit.
2. For those players who have taken their Bert Bell pensions already and are receiving less than $500 per month, a floor would be established for the Bert Bell Pension so that the minimum Bert Bell pension amount will be $500 per month.
3. In addition to the Bert Bell pension amount, all players would receive a Legacy Benefit of $114 per credited season for every credited season before 1993.
4. And finally, if I understand you correctly, this Legacy Benefit of $114 per credited season would only be paid to those players who are in “pay status” currently receiving their Bert Bell pensions or to those players when they elect to take their Bert Bell pensions and then are in “pay status.”
Perhaps a few examples which were discussed may be helpful.
For example, a pre-93 player with 4 credited seasons who is only receiving $250 per month now in Bert Bell pension benefits would have his Bert Bell pension increased to the floor of $500 per month plus he would receive an additional Legacy Benefit of $456 per month (4 x $114) for a total monthly payment of $956.
As another example, a pre-93 player with 5 credited seasons currently receiving a Bert Bell pension benefit of $500 or more per month would receive an additional Legacy Benefit of $570 per month (5 x $114).
As another example, a player who played 4 seasons before 1993 and 3 seasons in 1993 and after (i.e 1989 through 1995 inclusive) would receive a Legacy Benefit only for the credited seasons prior to 1993 of $456 per month (4 x $114) in addition to his Bert Bell pension benefit for 7 total credited seasons.
Since this is the first time that I have been asked to comment on this proposal, I have had a few hours to think after our conference call this afternoon. While there are things to commend about the Legacy Benefit such as the greater number of players receiving a legacy benefit, the floor of $500 for players who took their pensions early, and other positive issues, I have a number of reservations about this proposal. Specifically, I have two primary objections based upon numerous conversations with former players who have contacted me to inquire about the Legacy Fund.
My first objection, as expressed in our conference call, is that a large number of former players expected to receive at a minimum a $1,000 per month payment increase from the Legacy Fund. This expectation has been promoted, I believe, over the past 3 years by the example repeated numerous times that if each NFL team would only contribute $1 M to a Legacy Fund (32 teams x $1M = $32 M) every pre-93 vested player 55 and over would receive $1,000 per month. It was further promoted by the Ray Schoenke Resolution unanimously approved at our 2010 Former Players Convention to propose that every pre-93 vested player receive $2,000 per month (with an expectation it might be reduced to $1,000 per month). And it was also promoted, I believe, by the Legacy Fund totaling $620 M which was the NFL actuarial computation of what total amount ($620 M) would be required to pay every vested pre-93 player 45 and over $1,000 per month.
Under this Legacy Benefit proposal, any player with 8 or less credited seasons prior to 1993 would receive less than $1,000 per month in legacy benefits (i.e 4 yrs. = $456; 5 yrs. = $570; 6 yrs. = $684; 7 yrs. = $798; 8 yrs. = $912). A majority of our Former Players have 8 or less credited seasons. I fear that a substantial number of them will believe they were deceived and misled about the amount of monthly benefits they would receive from the Legacy Fund.
My second objection, as expressed in our conference call, is that, if I understand correctly, players who qualify for the Legacy Benefit, but who have not taken their Bert Bell pension, would be faced with the dilemma of taking their Bert Bell pension early in order to qualify for the Legacy Benefit, or of waiting to 65 to maximize their Bert Bell pension benefit thereby delaying receipt of the legacy benefit.
For example, a pre-93 player with 10 credited season who has not taken his Bert Bell pension yet qualifies at age 55 for $250 per credited season (at age 65 for approx. $675 per credited season) would have basically 2 equally negative choices. At age 55 he could take his Bert Bell pension at $2,500 per month ($250 x 10) and immediately start receiving his additional Legacy Benefit of $1,140 per month ($114 x 10) for a total monthly payment of $3,640. Or if he waited to take his Bert Bell pension until age 65, then he would received his Bert Bell pension of approximately $6,750 per month ($675 x 10) plus an additional Legacy Benefit of the same $1,140 per month (10 x $114) for a total monthly benefit of $7,890, but he will have lost receiving the Legacy Benefit for 10 years from age 55 to 65 which would be a total lost Legacy Benefit by my calculations of $136,800 ($114 x 12 mos. x 10 credited seasons x 10 years).
I hope my understanding is wrong about not receiving the Legacy Benefit until a player has taken his Bert Bell pension, but if I am right, then I strongly believe this proposal needs to be revised to allow any player who qualifies for the Legacy Benefit to start receiving it immediately.
In conclusion, in speaking with other Board Members and Chapter Officers including Marty Amsler, and Eddie Khayat, we were disappointed that we were not permitted as a Board to vote on or consider this specific proposal before this time since we know that such a vote by the Board would certainly NOT have been unanimous. I believe that there are serious flaws in this proposal which need to be addressed before it is presented as a “fait accompli” to our Board Members and our Chapter Officers and Members.
Jim McFarland
NFLPA Former Players Executive Committee Representative

11 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Bruce Jarvis
    August 17th, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Bruce Jarvis

    Hi Dave,

    The devil appears to be in the details and no doubt thousands of retirees are scrambling to get more information regarding their personal situation. This is human nature but the question of why should the men who took the risk to play in the NFL NOT receive benefits SUBSTANTIALLY GREATER than Major League Baseball has been answered if the CBA is allowed to stand as it is. The answer from the NFLPA and the NFL is: “BECAUSE WE CAN SHAFT YOU AND YOU AND ALL THE OTHER GUYS WE SHAFTED CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!”

    • Pre-1993 retirees with less than four credited seasons: SHAFTED! (No $$$ for you… but NOT if you played in MLB for even one year);
    • Pre-1993 vested retirees who waited until age 55 to retire: SHAFTED! Relative to taking benefits at 45 because no floor of $500 increase added to $114/year (and no $$$ from age 45-55);
    • Pre-1993 vested retirees who waited until age 55 to retire: SHAFTED! Because your SSA disability after 55 arbitrarily and capriciously will not be considered for T&P Benefits (for guys in my shoes that shafting amounts to $35,000 less in benefits per year!)
    • And no health care means the taxpayers continue to pay the over $1.5 BILLION+ annual tab for Medicare and Medicaid payments on NFL retiree medical costs. So John Q. Public: SHAFTED!
    • Oh – and that great long-term care insurance benefit? The 80% of us who will need it the most… were all disqualified by the carrier.

    A ROYAL “ONE LOCKER ROOM” SHAFTING! Nice work, active players, NFLPA Executive Committee, DeMaurice Smith, Nolan Harrison III, Roger Goodell, NFL Owners, Groom Law Group and the real power behind the NFLPA throne: The Agents.

    Bruce Jarvis
    Buffalo Bills

  2. Scott Kozak
    August 17th, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Scott Kozak

    I could not agree with Bruce Jarvis more.

    But don’t you guys know the Real “Golden Rule”? Those who have the gold make the rules. The young active players will some day join our ranks and realize what a great opportunity was lost at a very critical time.

    Scott Kozak
    Houston Oilers
    1989 – 1993

  3. Greg Davis
    August 17th, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Greg Davis

    My mother and father were both teachers and they get 80 % of their best 2 years salary for retirement. They receive 6 and 8 times my pension even though I paid more in taxes and social security over my 12 years than they did in their 30 years!

    These people at the Union and NFL offices have us fighting over the crumbs on the floor when we haven’t even gotten near the table.

    Greg Davis
    Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals
    Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders
    1987 – 1998

  4. Bob Asher
    August 17th, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Bob Asher


    Add me to the list of those who applied for NFL long-term care insurance and was disqualified by the insurance carrier. I applied for long-term care four years ago with Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co. and was approved to receive benefits very close to what I would have received from the NFL. It would have been nice not to have to pay the premium. Will the NFL consider paying my current long term insurance premium for me? My own carrier approved me.

    I’m told a large number of retiree players may have been approved? Anyway, we should get the real percentage of approved applicants. I agree with Bruce Jarvis – 80% of those players who may need the care the most are being rejected. Most of these players are being rejected for medical reasons created from playing football. If it costs more money (premium), the NFL owners need to pay it. This cost is their medical liability created by the beating some players received from football.

    Bob Asher
    Dallas Cowboys (1970-1971)
    Chicago Bears (1972-1976)

  5. Rick Sanford
    August 18th, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Rick Sanford NE Patriots

    What can you say to our fearless leaders of the NFLPA other than: RIDICULOUS? How you so-called negotiators can sleep at night with a clear conscience is unbelievable! I cannot believe that all of you could have agreed on all that this agreement gives the pre-1993ers. Pure and simple on all of your parts: GREED.

    And all of you so-called leaders (of which none of you obviously are, as we have now all seen) still wonder why there is such resentment?

    Rick Sanford
    New England Patriots 1979-84
    Seattle Seahawks 1985

    By the way, thanks for a job not-well-done. You active players better wake up and smell the coffee. You too will be a retired player one day.

  6. Richard Trapp
    August 18th, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Richard Trapp FSU

    I’m one of those with 3 pre-1993 credited seasons. So I get nothing from the NFL, although since I played ONE year in the CFL, I actually get a small retirement benefit from our Canadian counterparts!

    I asked Jim McFarland why the NFL – during discussions regarding the CBA – did not consider lowering the vesting requirements to 3 years or less for all players. He answered: “Because the records on a lot of those players are lost and therefore, they could not consider this issue.”

    Makes no sense to me nor, I think, to Jim either.

    Richard Trapp
    Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers
    1968 – 1969

  7. Mike Augustyniak
    August 18th, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Mike Augustyniak

    I too was denied disability insurance as well due to memory loss. I was given a memory test and answered all questions correctly. I thought when I first heard about this program, it was to good to me true. Well, it was.

    Being jerked around by the NFLPA and the NFL is getting rather tiresome and very frustrating.

    Mike Augustyniak
    New York Jets
    1981 – 1983

  8. Dave Hale
    August 18th, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    David Hale

    Occasionally I get asked why I only got in five seasons with the Bears! Are you kidding me?!! I’m surprised I lasted that long! I am glad I can still walk (and jog). Looking back, the NFL was a great experience and I would do it again — but it certainly hasn’t totally identified my life. I am very thankful for the increase in benefits — I started taking the money the month I qualified 19 years ago. Our five kids have all graduated college and are doing well. That monthly check has definitely helped!

    I do feel badly for those who really got banged up playing and I “kind of sit in the stands” and watch how these benefits get wrangled/wrestled out… it’s a struggle, but so was football! If I can help anyone in a meaningful way, I’ll try.

    Dave Hale DT
    Chicago Bears
    1969 – 1974

  9. Larry Kaminski
    August 18th, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Larry Kaminski


    I read the information that you posted on the new agreement and also the communication from the NFL Alumni (?!!). I’m still in the dark on the decisions made regarding those of us who have been declared disabled by SSA but still told by the NFL we are not disabled by their definition of disability. (And with no medical exams at all.) I’m also really confused by those of us who claimed disability when the new science of head trauma and joint replacements came into being and had serious injury but were told we made our claims too late (15 years after playing).

    Are we like the old cars in the junkyard? We served our purpose, so the hell to you. We will show films and tell stories of your day but you deserve nothing in return.

    I got a kick out of story this morning in the news regarding Houston, Texas and the heat in practice. They had consumed a 100 pounds of ice, 50 gallons of Gatorade and 100 gallons of water. Yikes…how many of you guys remember the water break to be a bucket with water and a towel that you could suck on just to get your mouth wet? Hell, I still can taste the green grass and in some cases, the mud. Water breaks are for the weak. Pain makes cowards of us all. We did it because that’s the way we were treated but have now been cast off as dumb, irresponsible, of poor character and undeserving.

    I think we should rebel and burn Drew Brees’ golf cart and make him walk to the field. Give him the bucket of water with the towel to suck after several guys wiped their brows and heads to cool down.

    Enough is enough.

    Larry Kaminski
    Denver Broncos
    1966 – 1973

  10. Bryan Hinkle
    August 18th, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Bryan Hinkle

    I played 1981 to 1993. Why is 1993 such an important cut-off date?

    Bryan Hinkle
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1982 – 1993

  11. Gordon Wright
    August 18th, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    I agree with what the Eller class action is asking for and I pray everyday that they are successful in court for all of us. Especially the Three-year and the One-year deal; also all medical should be under one umbrella like Medicare. We already pay into this system and the Politicians seem to be getting benefits from the NFL anyway.

    It is time for the Gladiators to be cared for properly!

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