Deafness Declared a Disability at the NFLPA

Oct 9, 2011

In our last post - click HERE if you’d like to read it again – we posted an exchange of e-mails from Bob Kuechenberg with questions on the current CBA, the Legacy Fund and benefits in general for retired players (particularly the pre-93ers). For weeks, those within the NFLPA have been stonewalling retirees with vague answers as well as pointing the finger at others to lay blame for lack of any clarity on what and how retired players will be receiving “new” benefits. One thing the PA has shown consistency with has always been, “We know what’s best for retired players and you’ll get what’s left AFTER we’ve already carved up the pie for the active players. And by the way – no one can talk about this stuff at local chapter meetings because it’s too negative and divisive!”
What’s worse: The NFLPA was invited to the table for a real opportunity to sit down with the Commissioner and representatives of the retired players in September because “they were being sued by the retired players” so they couldn’t show up. Never mind that Nolan Harrison III and Jim McFarland were invited – AND attended – the first meeting and subsequent conference calls with the largest unified collective of retired players representatives to have ever assembled for one goal: To take charge of their own pension and disability benefits. And never mind that the non-Union (decertified) individuals and the League were also subsequently sued by retired players at that time. (EDITOR’S NOTE: To Jim McFarland’s credit, he’s been the only man on the inside who’s been speaking up on the real issues relevant to retired players but of course, no one seems to be listening to him and he has absolutely NO vote.)
So the NFLPA’s Dee Becker is now claiming to want each of you retired players to pose “the THREE most important questions they have on any NFLPA-related matter. Please have your questions to me no later than Wednesday, October 12.” Disability attorney and retired player advocate John Hogan sent in three great questions that need to be brought up with your NFLPA chapter presidents since they’re “asking”:
1.  The CBA contains some significant changes in disability – specifically, there will no longer be a requirement to show that your disability is ALL football-related. Why weren’t these changes made retroactive so that guys who are disabled but denied football degenerative might be able to get a better deal?
2.   Who is the new neuro-cognitive benefit supposed to benefit? Guys have to be vested; have to be under 55; and NOT on disability.  That would seem to be a very narrow category of guys who continue to work in spite of a cognitive impairment.
3.  The CBA acknowledges the need for additional improvements to the disability plan and is supposed to name representatives to discuss same (with the League) by October 31st. Who is the Union going to appoint to this important position and what are his qualifications regarding disability law and procedure?
How many of you now realize that John Hogan’s observations and questions on the new CBA “retiree benefits” point out some significant flaws in the NFLPA’s leadership and the entire process of how it manages your benefits with absolutely no direct oversight by retired players? What three questions do you have to ask the NFLPA? Let’s discuss YOUR issues and YOUR 3 questions so they can be passed along by October 12th to those attending meetings.
By the way: We mean no disrespect to deaf people! As a matter of fact, we all know most of you have suffered the aftereffects of multiple concussions that the League and the Union (who was supposed to be protecting you guys) went out of their way to deny for decades until only recently (but once again, it only happened to current players and not the older guys, right?). And today, many of you are coming forward to report that you’re either losing your hearing or you’ve already lost your hearing at a much higher rate than the average population. This may be another good a reason to replace the NFLPA with people who can actually hear and listen…

7 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Billy Truax
    October 9th, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Billy Truax

    QDRO exclusion of any new benefits – i.e., Legacy Fund – that can be set aside from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan would obviously be a good thing and mean at least 50% more to the bottom line of recipients.

    Billy Truax
    LA Rams, Dallas Cowboys
    1964 – 1973

  2. John Watson
    October 10th, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    John Watson 49ers

    I have been told many times by friends and relatives that my hearing is getting worse. Too many slaps to the head by Deacon!

    John Watson
    San Francisco 49ers 1971- 1976
    New Orleans Saints 1977 – 1979

  3. Dave Costa
    October 10th, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Dave Costa

    I have only one question other than the questions already presented by many of you: And that is – if I now get T&P disability, can I still get Legacy Fund money? I have asked this question over and over and no one will answer! This delay in distribution is crazy! Many of us really need this money!

    I know – I’m preaching to the choir.

    Dave Costa
    Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills
    Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers
    1963 – 1974

  4. Joe S.
    October 10th, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Joe Steed

    I agree with Mr. Hogan!

    1. CBA/NFLPA disability should be retroactive! To defray healthcare costs there should be offered to the retired player a “mutual fund” of co-insurance (10 – 50 insurance companies – diversification AND specialization) which helps defray costs through a low premium. NFLPA/NFL should sponsor football camps, tailgate events, etc. that bring in the older vets to promote the NFL at the grassroots level, work the FB camps and bring in additional revenue for retired player premiums and services.

    2. “Mutual Fund” co-insurance via the NFLPA/CBA for retired players should be the method for neuro-cognitive issues. Cutting edge therapies like HGH supplementation, could be an approved method for concussion related injuries. The only requirement SHOULD BE that retired players needed only to be vested! The NFLPA/NFL should always be looking for inexpensive but EFFECTIVE and EFFICIENT treatments for active and post injuries. There is a parallel crossover to military injuries on the battlefield. There needs to be an awareness for the NCAA to examine its policies on concussions and post-treatment as well. As retired players know, concussions start way earlier than the NCAA and the NFL: high school, middle school, even elementary – you can have your “bell rung”! This could be a public health issue!

    3. The representatives for the Union need to be vetted by the owners and retired players – he/she needs to be 50/50 in terms of labor and management based on his/her record. A lawyer is preferred with consideration of service by sideline tickets and/or athlete’s/NFL endorsements of his/her firm or practice (LOL!). A paralegal could work as well as long as there are competent attorneys (50/50) that counsel him/her.

    I would love to help organize a “mutual fund’ of insurance diversification/specialization in concert to the disability plan held by the NFLPA/NFL.

    Joe Steed
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1992 – 1999

  5. Joe S.
    October 10th, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Joe Steed

    P.S. – Specialization AND Diversification:

    Both specialization and diversification can be successful strategies in the insurance business. In fact, diversification is one of the fundamentals of our business because it helps spread risk, which allows for the shifting of risk for reasonable pricing. Diversification can be accomplished through a variety of approaches, including line of business, product line, geographic concentration and distribution diversification strategies. Certainly no one would argue that diversification is not imperative in writing catastrophe exposed property insurance.

    However, specialization is also a strategy that provides some unique benefits, primarily the accumulation of a high degree of expertise in a particular specialty area. This expertise can be utilized in underwriting, risk management and claims to produce improved risk selection and reduced loss costs.

    A recent study provides empirical evidence that a specialization strategy can produce better results than diversification. Published in The Journal of Risk and Insurance, the study, by Andre P. Liebenberg and David W. Sommer is entitled: Effects of Corporate Diversification: Evidence from the Property-Liability Insurance Industry. The study looks at line of business diversification within the property/liability insurance industry, concluding:

    Undiversified insurers outperform diversified insurers. Results indicate that diversification is associated with a penalty of at least 1% of ROA or 2% of ROE.

    It would be interesting to review the companies included in each grouping to see if there are any concentrations of types of business. Examples might include re-insurers and medical malpractice insurers.

    Joe Steed
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1992 – 1999

  6. Steve Wright
    October 11th, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Steve Wright

    My three questions are all the same: What kind of pension increase will the pre-93 players – who retired early because we were told we wouldn’t live past 58 because of the toll that playing in the NFL takes on our bodies – receive and when?

    If they wait long enough, there won’t be any pre-93’ers to worry about!

    Thanks for your efforts, Dave.

    Steve Wright
    Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, New York Giants,
    Chicago Bears, St. Louis Cardinals
    1964 – 1972

  7. Dick Bielski
    October 11th, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Dick Bielski

    Just for the record: When I retired, age 45 was EARLY retirement, 55 was NORMAL retirement and DEFERRED retirement was 65.

    We were advised at the time to take Normal Retirement at 55 because like Steve Wright said, we were told we probably wouldn’t live past 58 years old.

    Dick Bielski
    Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Colts
    1955 – 1963