Irv Muchnick: Dave Duerson’s Vanishing Act

Sep 11, 2011

Duerson Apparently Did Not Review Andrew Stewart NFL Disability Claim

Posted with the express consent of Irv Muchnick:
Published September 10th, 2011
On August 16,’s Alex Marvez broke the story of a lawsuit against the National Football League’s Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan, in federal court in Maryland, by retired player Andrew Stewart. I discussed the case on my Concussion Blog – click HERE.
The premise of Marvez’s piece aligned with an important investigative angle of this blog: that the Stewart suit might reveal more about the work on the disability claims review board of Dave Duerson. But it turns out that, while Stewart’s attorneys have made a lot of progress in getting scrutiny in open court of the board’s inner workings – a very good thing – Duerson himself did not participate in the deliberations of Stewart’s particular case in August of last year.
The three NFL Players Association representatives on the board for Stewart’s review were Andre Collins, Robert Smith, and Jeff Van Note. “I do not know why Duerson was not on the Board that day,” Stewart attorney Michael Rosenthal e-mailed me.
According to John Hogan, who represents many retired players from his disability law practice in Georgia, retirement board members occasionally designate others as proxies, and that is probably what happened here. The whole process is mysterious and secretive, which is why we need the drip-drip-drip of additional cases to break down the NFL and NFLPA’s limestone wall. (The judge in the Stewart case has set a trial date, though he has not yet ruled on whether to permit live testimony. But the court seems to be leaning that way.)
As I’ve said many times, perhaps the most tumultuous litigation for the football-concussion system isn’t by professionals. Rather, it involves youth athletes and the financial exposure of public schools for disabling injury and wrongful death. Without tackle football mania at the grassroots, the $10-billion-a-year NFL cannot recruit, inculcate, and thrive. We already know of one lawsuit in New Jersey by the family of a kid who died from a second concussion after being cleared to return to play – with the help of NFL and World Wrestling Entertainment witch doctor Joseph Maroon’s “ImPACT concussion management” software.
Irvin Muchnick is author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (2009) and WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal (2007). He is a widely published magazine journalist and has appeared on forums as diverse as Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor,” National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” and ESPN’s “Up Close.” Muchnick is lead respondent in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for freelance writers’ rights, Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick.
BeyondChron contributor Irvin Muchnick has launched his new website and blog “Concussion Inc.”. You can also find Irv on Twitter at

6 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Henry Bradley
    September 12th, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Henry Bradley

    I am willing to go to the NFLPA offices and protest the way I have been treated. If several thousand of us go to their offices and express our anger, they will have to take us seriously. We can stay there until something is done while we’re still alive. I know what I have lost and who took it from me.

    I’ve just had some more tests done and they show my condition is getting worse.

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1982

  2. Matt McCartney
    September 12th, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    What is Jerome Bettis doing promoting the Impact evaluation system and standing alongside Maroon in an ad that was run over the weekend during some of the games? If this evaluation program is a scam, would someone please look into this marketing campaign before thousands of people donate money to this program? I think it was an ad for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

    Matt McCartney

  3. Thomas Henderson
    September 12th, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Hollywood Henderson

    With a C-1 fracture and more concussions than I can count or remember I’m sure I will be in the parade of brain-damaged athletes some day. My head was my favorite weapon. NFL coaches often said,”Stick your head in there!” I was on disability for 18 years. When I won the lottery, the NFL cut me from the benefit. My question is this: When did I stop being disabled? Seriously, they stopped my check. I didn’t appeal or sue. One day I might, though. I’m 58 and wonder when my memory will start to skip like an old 45 or 33 record. There are times now when for the life of me, I can’t remember people, places or things. In the middle of conversations I want to say something when whoever I’m talking to finishes and I can’t remember what I wanted to say when they’re done. Ever happen to you???

    I am sure there’s brain damage in my brain. Waking up with trainers and doctors standing over me happened at least a dozen times. Then there were those stagger-off-the-field times trying to shake it off. Shake what off? Football players know what I’m talking about. I hope when the time comes that I don’t know who I am or where I am that the NFL and NFLPA have a place for us to go.

    Wouldn’t mind spending my final days, months or years with the men who played the game. The game that hurt us.

    Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson
    Dallas Cowboys (San Francisco 49’ers, Houston Oilers) Miami Dolphins
    1975 – 1982

  4. Thomas Henderson
    September 12th, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Hollywood Henderson

    The screen actors guild or SAG has a retirement home for retired and disabled actors. Seems to me the NFL and NFLPA ought to be having this conversation for our elderly population of retired and disabled players. What a great locker room that would be!

    I’ve read NFL pamphlets referring disabled players to different institutions offering discounts. Why not build and fund our own retirement retreat for the men who built this game? Play pool, lie about how good we were and argue about all matters. Exercise, sleep, take meds, change Depends and feel safe and cared for.

    I would surely go there when I couldn’t take care of myself. This is not a joke. I’m serious.

    Thomas Henderson

  5. Lou Piccone
    September 12th, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Lou Piccone

    Hey Thomas,

    Back in the 80’s Gene Upshaw and the gang proposed a marvelous Retirement Home Complex in Florida. I guess he just made off with the money and decided to have a few homes himself and a nice stash. Just ask some of the Mid-Eighties NFLPA-RP guys – they’ll remember. The kibosh was put on it for some unknown reason… I believe you can find it in the Touchback or whatever the PA News was at that time.
    You’re right though. Just think of what that would be like with all the boys back in the locker room again. It certainly would be an empathetic crowd.

    My time in the NFL (10 years) yielded many a mind-boggling blow and like you, I would woke up in La La Land. But you already know how that was. “How many fingers?” “Get up! You’re killing the grass!” “What the *&%#@$? – you just cost us a time out! You know the rest. I’m 62 now and have short-term memory loss just like you. It’s the Black Hole of the NFL: Nobody’s home! Keep the faith, Thomas. Just like you winning the lottery, maybe we’ll all hit the lottery with a magnificent new lawsuit one day when we all get our heads on straight and manage to get on the same page to challenge the NFL/NFLPA for lack of moral ethics!

    Lou Piccone
    NY Jets – 74-76
    Buffalo Bills – 77-83

  6. thomas henderson
    September 12th, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Thomas Henderson

    Thanks, Lou. The time has come for the NFL and NFLPA to seriously implement a retirement home for the injured men who gave their bodies and vital joints to this game. Some gave their brains with multiple concussions. If they build it, we will come. When a guy gets in his 70’s and has lost his wife and family and can’t take care of himself.

    I’m insulted at these fancy brochures that give nothing but referrals to expensive convalescent homes that none of us can afford in the long run. I’ve read all their offers for help and used only one. That 10% prescription card. It isn’t worth crap either. A retirement and rehabilitation complex for former players has to be in the future plans of the league and union. Far better than sitting in a lonely home with nurses and therapists coming by. Please pass this thought around to all retired players especially the guys who know someday they will need daily care and assistance. Which in fact is all of us. This would take the burden off our kids and family. I’d like to spend my last days with the guys that who gave their bodies to this great game we played. It’s a long shot but if enough of us advocate for this, it may happen. Honestly, would you rather die alone or with other men who played and made this game?

    I truly believe if we have enough men writing about this, it can happen. Frankly, it’s the right thing to do. Let’s start the advocating for a retirement home for aged NFL men.

    Thomas Henderson