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Andrew Stewart: We ARE All Dog Food to the NFL

Mar 6, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of you may remember Andrew Stewart’s long battle to access his earned Disability Benefits from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan. He ended up taking them to court. You can read the earlier posts by clicking HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. All from 2010!
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Hi Dave,
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Here is an update along with some shocking comments from my court case with the NFLPA in Federal Court.
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After many years and delays, we finally reached our court date which was last Monday. My lawyer was there and the Plan sent several lawyers AND their secretaries.
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Their whole argument was not that they were right but that they are and should be afforded discretion under the law. They stated before the judge that Dr. Bach was on “Their Team” and the judge questioned whether they really wanted to say that. Even though Dr. Bach had never examined me, never treated me and didn’t even bother to see any of the X-rays of my injuries, he still decided that in his medical opinion, “It was not even close” as to whether I was disabled or not held more weight than any detailed medical evaluation that their neutral examining doctor could give.
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“Not even close.” Would you trust your doctor if he chose to only write that as his evaluation to any illness or injury you personally suffered? They also stated that they basically did me a favour by putting me on the lower amount and that I should grateful. (!)
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Doug Ell, the lawyer for the Plan, stated in court that one of the reasons they couldn’t pay every player the higher amount was that the Plan has to watch its bottom line since they have to make sure there’s enough money for players such as Brett Favre. It is important to state that during testimony, it was also disclosed that the Plan currently has over a billion dollars in assets. So apparently, we’re valued differently by the NFL: Not for your vested seasons or your injuries but maybe by how many more jerseys you can sell and your commercial appeal!
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In the end, the judge decided that he wanted briefs filed by the end of March and he would then rule.
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Although the NFLPA’s lawyers felt that this judge is not what they call “a plan-friendly judge” as they have stated to my lawyer, I feel that the judge is very fair and is taking this case very seriously because there are just too many instances where they are not following their own rules as laid out by the Plan and – depending on the case – they’re prepared to change them accordingly.
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Sincerely,
Andrew Stewart
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ADDENDUM FROM IRV MUCHNICK MARCH 7th:

Dave Duerson’s Bankruptcy and Andrew Stewart’s Case Against the NFL Retirement Plan

Published March 7th, 2012

Stir into the stew of the second stage of the consideration of Dave Duerson’s suicide this Miami New Times report on the recent posthumous settlement of his bankruptcy:
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Dave Duerson’s Assets Were Worth a Grand Total of $19,500 at Death
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(Deadspin.com first pointed to the Miami New Times story.)
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Also take a look at former pro footballer Andrew Stewart’s progress report on his lawsuit against the Bert Bell / Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan:
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Andrew Stewart: We ARE All Dog Food to the NFL
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These two threads intersect at Duerson’s presence on – and absence from – the board of the retirement plan, which rules on ex-players’ claims for disability benefits. Duerson served on the board and rubber-stamped many rejections. He didn’t pass on Stewart’s file because Duerson was not at the August 2010 board meeting at which the Stewart appeal was heard. The NFL gave Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com, and then me, conflicting and confusing explanations of Duerson’s whereabouts through this period, six months before his February 2011 suicide.
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Irv Muchnick
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8 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    March 7th, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Dave Pear

    NFL disability Dr. Bach is the new “Dr. NO”!

    How can any legitimate doctor make a medical determination without EVER even examining a patient?

    This can only happen in the NFL. In fact, it’s been a way of life for these unethical doctors who either work for free (maybe a couple of Super Bowl tickets and a picture with Commissioner Goodell to hang in their office) or some even actually pay the NFL team to be their so-called doctor!

    But as we can all see, Dr. Bach – also now known to retired players as “Dr. NO” – begs for his $500 fee in a letter that we posted when he writes his medical opinion on Andrew Stuart. “DR. NO” puts on his vocational specialist hat and claims that Andrew Stewart is not totally disabled.

    I have a question for “Dr. NO”: Since you are claiming to be a vocational specialist, please make a list (since you must have training as one) as to what jobs specifically Andrew might perform in order to provide for his family and himself?

    NOTE: Selling pencils on the street corner is not a job even though the owner of the Cardinals (Mr. Bidwell) thinks it is.

    Finally, I just had my 15th surgery since leaving football. On 2/7/2012 I had a total right hip replacement. I AM SURE GLAD THAT THE DOCTOR WHO PERFORMED THE SURGERY EXAMINED ME BEFORE HE OPERATED. Because if Dr. “NO” Bach would have operated on me, he wouldn’t have needed an exam. Just like he didn’t need to examine Andrew Stewart.

    What a bunch of quack doctors! And then naturally, our good friends over at the Groom Law Group stand up and support “Dr. NO”.

    I bet “Dr. NO” received his $500 dollars much, much, much quicker that retired players received their Legacy Fund checks. Oh wait – I forgot. Retired players like Burt Grossman are still waiting because the big shots over at the Bell/Rozelle retirement office (like Sarah Gaunt) refuse to speak to Burt.

    Regards,
    Dave Pear

  2. Kamal Salaam-El aka Reggie Harrison
    March 7th, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Reggie Harrison

    Can somebody tell me if anybody has actually received the CBA increase? I thought the holdup was because I’m receiving Disability but I have yet to see an increase in my monthly check. I’m not complaining but I sure am concerned!

    Reggie Harrison
    Kamal Salaam-El
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1974 – 1977

  3. Glenn Bujnoch
    March 7th, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Glenn Bujnoch

    Am I going to have to get a lawyer to find out about my “Legacy Fund” Benefits? Has it worked for any of you without getting a lawyer?

    This thing has gotten way out of hand.

    Glenn Bujnoch
    Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1976 – 1985

  4. Dave Pear
    March 7th, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Dave Pear

    P.S. – ATTENTION: ALL active players - SAVE YOUR MONEY BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO NEED EVERY PENNY AFTER FOOTBALL TO PAY FOR YOUR ONGOING MEDICAL BILLS AND PRESCRIPTIONS.

    Today, I went to get one of my many prescriptions filled as I do every month. Just this one prescription is $472.50 a month! The NFL has never paid one penny towards any of my medications that I need as a direct result of my football injuries.

    The only way for retired players to receive current and retroactive restitution is to join these mass action and class action lawsuits:

    1) Since the lockout last summer, Hausfeld LLP has been suing the NFLPA for having no legal right to represent retired players in the past CBA. In fact, Commissioner Goodell called in Michael Hausfeld along with several retired players and informed them of an addtional $500,000,000 that the NFLPA had withheld from retired players offered by the League in the current CBA. De, just where IS that $500,000,000? Call Jim Mitchell at Hausfeld LLP (202) 540-7148 for more information or e-mail him at jmitchell@hausfeldllp.com

    2) NFL Films: Attorney and fellow retired player, Bob Stein, is suing the NFL for selling and using re-issued footage of all our old games while paying no one a penny in royalties. (And remember when our phony union, the NFLPA, was also found guilty in Federal Court and was ordered to pay over 2,000 retired players $28,100,000 in damages for their breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Some union.) Contact Bob Stein at (952) 829-1043 or e-mail him at bob@nflfilmslawsuit.com

    3) A mass action personal injury suit against the NFL, NFL Properties and Riddell for the concussion cover up. My attorney Jason Luckasevic can be reached at (412) 338-9460 and his e-mail address is jluckasevic@gpwlaw.com. Jason’s group is the only law firm that is including NFL Properties and Riddell in its lawsuit filings.

    We’ll be discussing these lawsuits and more at our upcoming Conference April 20 – 22 in Las Vegas.

    Dave Pear

  5. John Hogan
    March 8th, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    John Hogan

    I hope the Judge hearing Andrew’s case knows the difference between discretion and abuse of discretion! Discretion means that the Plan can choose among medical opinions – but they still have to exercise their fiduciary duty of skill and care towards the player. Seeking another medical opinion just because they don’t like the first one is an abuse of their discretion and a violation of their fiduciary duty.

    The first doctor who examined Andrew gave a very detailed opinion which separated the injuries he incurred in the NFL from those he suffered in the CFL, and then went on to explain exactly why his NFL injuries would render him disabled. Dr. Bach gave no such explanation for his opinion. This abuse has to stop.

    Eliminating the Plan’s “reservation of discretion” is one of the many disability reforms I have long advocated.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  6. John Griffin
    March 8th, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    John Griffin

    I have finally started receiving mine this month. But that was only after I had mailed in all my forms even sending them by Return Receipt Requested and then, after waiting for months with no reply, I called and all I got was transferred to someone’s voicemail. I finally called and demanded to speak to a person and then I was told that they did not have my signed form with my election of payment! So she asked me to fax her the information and I did.

    All of this was just a delay tactic – I knew they had all the paperwork because I also had to send in a copy of my wife’s birth certificate earlier and they never asked me to fax that again. I also had the signed Return Receipt card from the US Postal Service.

    So my suggestion to all my retired buddies is to get on the phone and call the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Pension office at this number 1(800) 638-3186 and ask to speak to either Lashay Rose, Cynthia Timpson or Sarah Gaunt, who is the Plan Director. Just keep calling and demanding to speak to a person. I know the amount is not what we were looking for so at least make them work to get it to you. And be a pain-in-their-butt until you do finally get it.

    Hang in there and fight the good fight because this fight should help us be stronger to fight the heaviest fight of our lives this coming November. Stand united and help each other. Let me know if this is of any help to anyone.

    Good luck and God Bless you all!

    John Griffin
    LA Rams & Denver Broncos
    1963 – 1967

  7. Gordon Wright
    March 8th, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    Sounds like the NFL Lawyers and All the NFL Program workers and secretaries and legal assistants are getting our Retirement monies etc.

    Gordon Wright
    Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets
    1967 – 1970

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