Patsy Lewis: Where’s the R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

Jan 25, 2012


On January 13, 2012, I called the NFLPA office to inquire about the Legacy benefit. I was instructed to call Cynthia Timpson at the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle office to discuss the matter. My late husband was a pre-93 player, and from my understanding the 2012 CBA agreement states, “All players who vested under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozell NFL Retirement Plan prior to 1993 would get an increase.” I anticipated her return call and was unprepared for her disrespectful remarks. I have never been so disappointed in the treatment I received that day; however, it should not have surprised me since that seemed to be the status quo whenever I have called seeking information from any of the NFL-related offices.
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In my opinion, these individuals have made me feel as though I was seeking government assistance. This is unfortunate because there are numerous compensatory sections of the CBA that are contractual entitlements for players and their beneficiaries. I have attempted to call various departments to speak with someone to express my disappointment with this encounter. To date, I have not received a returned phone call or even so much as an explanation or apology.
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I am calling on all widows, former players, and even active players to respond to this issue. I am curious as to whether any other individuals have experienced the same treatment. I believe it’s time for us to rally together and take a stand against those who have disrespected us. We are only seeking answers to our questions and concerns. It is our right to seek the answers. It is time to change the culture of disregard that runs rampant within this organization.
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Although I never played the game of football, I am honored to be a part of this elite organization as the widow of my late husband, Mark Lewis. Mark died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack at the age of 32. Mark left behind a son, Brandon, who was 6 years old at his time of death.
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Above all, I am forever grateful for the assistance that Andre Collins provided me in the past; however it is sad to think that there is only one person out of the entire organization that has shown compassion and sympathy for my hardships. My issues with disrespect didn’t start on January 13, 2012; it started five months after Mark’s death when Gene Upshaw never returned my phone calls until after the Statute of Limitation for me to file a death claim had expired.
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Today I feel a sense of relief. I finally have enough courage to say I am tired of being disrespected by an organization which professes publicly that they care about the welfare of all players and their beneficiaries.
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Patsy Lewis
widow of Mark Lewis (1961 – 1993)
Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions
1985 – 1989
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19 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. John Beasley
    January 25th, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    John Beasley

    You’re not alone Patsy. I’m a vested retired player from the 60’s – 70’s and none of my calls have been returned.

    John Beasley
    Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
    1967 – 1974

  2. Burt Grossman
    January 25th, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Burt Grossman

    Add me to the list – never a returned call from the Benefits Dept.

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  3. Jeff Walker
    January 25th, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Jeff Walker

    I have had the same non-success, if you will.

    I spoke with one lady at the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle retirement office. She was rude and very short with me, as if she didn’t wish to be taking my call. She then transferred me to another extension where – of course! – I had to leave a message. I have since left 4 or 5 messages over the last couple of months and never a returned call! It’s really sad that we have to be treated as such, especially the widows of our great fellow former players! They deserve better! We all do!

    Jeff Walker
    San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints
    1986-1991

  4. Andrew Stewart
    January 25th, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Andrew Stewart

    The real root of this problem is that they really don’t care. They collect large salaries on the backs of the players while the players and their families suffer.

    Patsy, your story is very upsetting but not surprising. Like an old racehorse, former players are replaceable, damaged and no longer serve a purpose… Fortunately, we cannot be shot and disposed of but sadly we’re ignored. Where we were once invaluable, we are now of no value. It’s really sad the way retired players are treated after years of giving our hearts and souls and destroying our bodies for the NFL. I wish I had known that the last game I played was the last time I was going to be a part of the NFL “team.” I would never have believed that I would be treated so poorly and left to beg for help which I earned from uncaring and rude NFL employees who collect salaries off our backs and leave us with nothing. I have fought the NFL and their lawyers for three years now and next month for the first time in 30 years, the members of the DisabilityBboard will be in court before a judge having to explain their actions.

    Andrew Stewart
    Vested Retired NFL Player
    Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49?ers
    (drafted in 1989, 1990 in Cleveland, 1991 in Cincinnati, 1993 with the 49ers)

  5. Dave Pear
    January 25th, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Dave & Heidi.jpg

    I still remember my calls to Cynthia Timpson (NFL Player Benefits). All I kept asking her for was a current copy of the Bell/Rozelle Plan document. She would say, “It’s in storage” or “We’re still working on it.” Then other times, she’d say, “I don’t know where it is!”

    Cynthia, are you serious?

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  6. Henrietta Watson
    January 26th, 2012 at 4:44 am #

    Sid Watson

    My husband, Sid Watson, played 1955 – 57 for Pittsburgh and 1958 for Washington. I do receive a check every month. However, when I called the benefits office, they were polite and apologetic to inform me that I would not receive an increase.

    My husband was gainfully employed, planned wisely, provided both health benefits and income so that I am able to continue to live comfortably. My concern is the many players who, for no other reason than the color of their skin, played football at the same time. They had to have 4 years of college. How many of those players, upon retiring or being let go, do you realize did not have equal opportunity for the same level of employment?

    I think this is a case for the courts. It is discrimination against older players. This is AGE discrimination, pure and simple. If they stall long enough, they will save lots of money. We are all aging! Think about it. Whenever you leave a segment of society out of your negotiations, you are discriminating.

    Henrietta Watson
    widow Sid Watson (1932 – 2004)
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
    1955 – 1958

  7. Dick Bielski
    January 26th, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    Dick Bielski

    Patsy,

    Your letter will be widely received. We have heard from several other wives who are in the same situation. The ones we know of are Pellegrini, Mackey, Concannon and Huth. We are sure there are many more. We stand behind you.

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

  8. Tiffany Brooks
    January 26th, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Kevin Brooks

    Hello Patsy,

    It is very unfortunate the entire organization has failed many retired players and wives. I certainly feel that there is a need for wives and widows to take a stand against this treatment. To be denied something that is rightfully yours is insulting and unethical. Any other company in the United States would be held accountable for such actions or the lack thereof.

    Patsy please feel free to email or contact me. The people on this blog will send you my contact information.

    Tiffany Brooks
    wife – Kevin Brooks
    Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions
    1985 – 1992

  9. Gordon Wright
    January 26th, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    You have our sympathy not our empathy in your plight with the Conglomerate NFLPA and the Federal Government. The Federal Government does not have Lawyers that fight or stand up for the Civil Rights of its Citizens Born or naturalized.

    We have learned this lesson the hard way. We believe in reincarnation. Next time we are on earth, maybe people will treat all humankind with respect and not pick and choose who needs to die without Dignity like the Conglomerate NFLPA.

    Gordon Wright
    Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets
    1967 – 1970

  10. Kenny King
    January 26th, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Kenny King Raiders

    I have tried calling the Legacy Benefits line to ask two questions regarding my Legacy Fund. I started calling two weeks ago and still haven’t gotten a call back.

    Kenny King
    Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders, LA Raiders
    1979 – 1985

  11. Irv Cross
    January 26th, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Irv Cross

    Patsy,

    Sorry to hear of your problems communicating with the NFL Player Benefits office. Put me on your list too; I’m also waiting for several calls to Cynthia Timpson to be returned.

    I’m not sure if they do not care or are simply inefficient. Whatever the problem, communication must be improved: too many lives depend on it.

    God bless,
    Irv Cross

  12. Henry Bradley
    January 26th, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Henry Bradley

    I just wanted Paul Scott to send me the information I needed for my home modification loan. However, it’s almost impossible to talk to him.

    Also, if you get disability your Legacy Fund will be done last.

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1983

  13. Janet & Michael C. McCoy
    January 26th, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Mike C. McCoy

    Patsy,

    I have also had “conversations” with Cynthia. My husband has been trying for years to change his benefit form to include me as his beneficiary as he was not married at the time he signed for his pension. We were also treated as if we were asking for the Plan to commit a criminal act. We’re still unable to make these changes as we have been told “it is written in stone.” Since my husband and I have been married and he became disabled with dementia within the first 6 months of marriage, I will be left with no benefits.

    I would love to hear something in regards to this.

    Janet Brown-McCoy
    for Mike McCoy
    Green Bay Packers
    1976 – 1983

  14. Ellen Morin
    January 26th, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Milt Morin

    Patsy,

    I am the widow of Milton Morin, former Cleveland Browns tight end. I, too, called the Bert Bell office to find out that as Milt’s beneficiary, the Legacy Fund beneficiary clause didn’t include the current widows!

    The NFLPA did take my call but would not answer any questions and were very unpleasant! Milt paid his dues on – and off – the field including his Union dues. To be treated so poorly now is unbelievable.

    Ellen Morin
    Widow of Milton Morin (1942–2010)
    Cleveland Browns
    1966 – 1976

  15. Tom Beer
    January 26th, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Tom Beer

    Patsy –

    You have my empathy regarding your fruitless efforts trying to get questions answered regarding your late husband’s Legacy Fund benefit. Unfortunately, you’re now learning the hard way what many of us pre-’93 retirees have encountered over all these years: Indifference from our own Union.

    That mantra of delay, deny and hope they die has been quite evident for decades. Just ask the countless number of retired players seeking disability for the debilitating injuries they incurred while playing in the NFL.

    In the words of the late Gene Upshaw: “I don’t work for retired players!”

    What more is there to say?

    Tom Beer
    Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
    1967 – 1973

  16. Burt Grossman
    January 26th, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Burt Grossman Cover

    Nobody gets a return call and we’re now going on two months since I sent my first Legacy Benefit letter with no second one still. What a great Union, Association, Pyramid Scheme or whatever it is they’re calling themselves nowadays…

    Burt Grossman
    San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles
    1989 -1994

  17. John Beasley
    January 26th, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    John Beasley

    First to Ellen Morin: Ellen, we don’t know each other but Milt and I played the same position, in the same era, on different teams and against each other several times. I did not know Milt had passed away until your post and I am so sorry to hear about it. I always watched and admired how well Milt played the position and the game. I was a fan of his.

    Patsy: With these posts I hope you now know that you are not alone. These posted testimonials, along with many others from different sites, are powerful. Most times the “Court of Public Opinion” has quicker results than the legal system!

    And I am now forced to make a formal, legal demand just to receive the paperwork to fill out in order to receive my benefits. How BS is that…?

    John Beasley
    Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
    1967 – 1974

  18. Susan Bailey
    January 27th, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Philadelphia Eagles

    I found out from reading this blog that as a widow receiving spousal benefits, my payments would not increase.

    I find it incredible that we were left out of the agreement. Yet I also have read the information on the President of the Player’s Union and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. To think that current players – or whoever selected him – would entrust a man with three bankruptcy filings in fifteen years (I thought there was a seven-year interval between filings but perhaps I’m mistaken) with so much power over so much money such that one has to question the entire premise of the current setup.

    My husband passed away in 2005 at the age of 56 due to a sudden heart attack and somewhere out there he has to be shaking his head over this exclusion. He walked a picket line in 1974 as did many others in his age group and he paid his dues. As one of the wives in this thread, I share their disbelief and disappointment with this organization.

    Susan Bailey
    widow Tom Bailey (1949 – 2005)
    Philadelphia Eagles
    1971 – 1975

  19. Henrietta Watson
    January 29th, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Sid Watson

    Dave,

    Concerning “Widows need not apply,” I do question the legality of excluding widows.

    Has anyone challenged this? Will anyone challenge this?

    Henrietta Watson
    widow Sid Watson (1932 – 2004)
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
    1955 – 1958