Evan Weiner: Junior Seau’s death? Another football statistic?

May 2, 2012

Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Wednesday, 2 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
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I didn’t know Junior Seau although I met him on the day he was drafted into the National Football League in 1990 and probably interviewed him after a football game a few times more. From all accounts, he was a fearsome presence on the football field; a killer who at times could control a game defensively.
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But Junior Seau didn’t live to be a ripe old age and until an autopsy is performed and a police investigation is complete, there is no need to speculate about the circumstances surrounding Seau’s death other than he was found dead of a shotgun wound on the morning of May 2, 2012 about 22 years after the San Diego Chargers football team called his name at the annual National Football League event.
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The gun wound should strike a nerve among former players. It seems that is becoming a way of life and death among NFL alum suffering from life altering injuries that probably came from years and years of absorbing hits on the football field. People do hear about former NFL players but there seems to be no tracking of high school and college players who years after their football careers ended killed themselves.
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Seau is now just another former player who is dead from unnatural circumstances.
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There is either some form or serendipity or karma about Seau’s death because National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell had just announced the suspension of four players who performed with the 2010 New Orleans Saints football team who allegedly put up money to knock out opposing players.
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Football is a sport loaded with violence.
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The sport was nearly banned in the very early part of the 20th century by President Theodore Roosevelt when players were maimed or died on the field during college games. Roosevelt forced football people and college presidents to “clean up the game.”
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The National Football League’s modern day success was partially built on the “Violent World of Sam Huff” in 1960 when the Columbia Broadcasting System or CBS did a news magazine show which featured Huff and the Giants and the way the team played defensive football.
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Huff was the first NFL player ever to appear on the cover of Time Magazine in November 1959.
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The sport is entertainment for fans but there have been tragic consequences for some of Sunday’s grid iron heroes. In April, former Atlanta Falcons player Ray Easterling killed himself. The suicide death of one time Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson in 2011 received plenty of coverage but that didn’t stop former players from ultimately taking their own lives.
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This reporter gets many e-mails and calls from former players. A column on Gene Atkins, a former defensive back with the New Orleans Saints. And Duerson’s suicide lead a former player to contact me.
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“I read the story you did on Gene Atkins,” said the former player who was on a Super Bowl championship team. “In reading this story, I felt that I was reading about myself. I am currently on SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and Non-Degenerative NFL Disability. I have been diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome. I have been in a rehab facility twice to treat my depression, cognitive learning and chronic pain. I have been struggling with my depression, loss of memory and chronic pain for a long time. It was hard – and is still hard – for me to accept. I get really confused when the NFL doesn’t accept me. The NFL don’t even have a number for retired players that are depressed or even suicidal. Dave Duerson was my friend. We talked and played in golf tournaments after we retired. What he did could have easily been me. Look at the number of NFL Safeties that are going through the same problems. We all played around the same time and all were know and trained to be Head Hunters. Seek and Destroy: That’s what (a coach) told me to do. Make people afraid to come in your territory. I had my best game in the Super Bowl and don’t even remember playing in that game. I only know what happened by watching the tapes and talking to the players. I was knocked out during the first series of the game and had my nose broken when (a running back’s) forearm came throw my open face mask.
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“Just wanted to let you know that these bounties didn’t just start. I won’t say under what coach and who directed it. But I received bounty monies and so did a lot of my teammates. We all were excited about going to the early Monday morning meeting. This is when we got our cash for big hits, knockout, roaches and whatever name you wanted to use. We got paid in cash and watched film as a team to make decisions on what hits would qualify.
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“The goal was to knock players out and the easiest way was on special teams. And everyone that was any type of a hitter wanted to be on special teams. This wasn’t for everybody – only the big hitters.”
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The former player in question has not followed up after his e-mails. But his story is quite similar to many others. Depression, loss of family, living on the government dole because the National Football League Players Association never negotiated a post-career benefit package is common.
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Players Association Executive Directors from Ed Garvey to Gene Upshaw to DeMaurice Smith have traded future benefits for “Money Now” which was the slogan of the players during the 1982 National Football League Players Association walkout. It was up to the players, not the owners, to have negotiated in collective bargaining a retirement benefit package. The players association failed the membership in 1982, 1987 and every subsequent collective bargaining negotiation.
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Goodell, the New Orleans Saints franchise, Saints management, coaches and players are lucky that law enforcement officials are not at initial glance investigating the whole bounty case and that the league is being allowed to handle the situation.
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That’s exactly what sports leagues and organizations want. The ability to impose sport discipline not legal discipline on employees.
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Leagues are all too powerful and reporters covering sports leagues are all too weak in doing their jobs which is reporting. National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern presides over a league which is pretty much free of body to body, head to head contact. Stern now has a National Football League owner in his league. Tom Benson just purchased the New Orleans Hornets franchise which will now be his second active professional sports franchise in the city. Benson had owned an Arena Football League team in New Orleans.
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During the news conference introducing Benson as the new Hornets owner, Stern told the “probing” media that Benson would not answer any questions about his Saints, the bounties, the suspensions imposed on Saints upper management and coaches and that he was there to talk about basketball.
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Sports reporters don’t go after real stories. It is not in their DNA. You ask a tough question, you might lose access and that would hamper you. You might be labeled a troublemaker and become a pariah among your peers. So sports reporters play it safe and whatever David Stern wants, David Stern gets except in one instance when one of his referees was being investigated for gambling.
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Stern gets labeled with titles like “genius” or the “best commissioner in sports” by the writers who almost genuflect before him.
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Was Stern afraid someone might say something offensive?
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“With all due respect Commissioner Stern, Mr. Benson was handed over $186.5 million between 2002-10 as a thank you for keeping the Saints in New Orleans despite having a long-term lease. The state has rebuilt the SuperDome at a cost of many millions of dollars, the state has created a tax-free zone between the Dome and the arena and Mr. Benson bought the Dominion Tower from the state, renovating it and then renting office space to the state. Given that Mr. Benson is getting hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers, it is incumbent upon him to answer questions. Are you, Mr. Stern, afraid of real questions?”
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Benson limited himself to basketball questions because the Grand Master of Mirth Entertainment Stern stared down the media.
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It is time to start making commissioners and owners responsible and force them to answer questions. Sports is taking multi-billion dollars from taxpayers yet reporters are intimidated by sports people.
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Sports leagues do control United States media. Leagues and colleges are partners with CBS, Disney (ESPN), Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Comcast’s NBC Universal and Time Warner. Local newspapers own some teams or have a business relationship with privately owned teams. The “big” names of sports reporting have done relatively little to justify their reputations.
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Bob Costas talked about steroid usage in baseball in the 1990s as did the Washington Post’s Tom Boswell. That is about the extent of reporting in sports. The Lupicas, the Alboms and the rest of the big city sports columnists fall flat on their collective faces when reporting on sports real issues. There is an awful lot of hype surrounding Bryant Gumbel’s HBO show but there is little substance in the program.
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Will the media wake up and really cover sports like a business? Doubtful unless you count Mike Lupica’s Madison Square Garden experience as better when the Knicks win so they better sign the right stars to make the Garden rock like it did in 1994.
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Junior Seau will be lauded in death and remembered as a great player. But to some, he is just another statistic. Another young man, 43, who died prematurely after a spectacular career. There are newer and younger stars who will provide Sunday entertainment or Monday night entertainment or Thursday night entertainment and Friday night high school football is still revered as is Saturday college football. The players are interchangeable and disposable. The games will go on.
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Evan Weiner

Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on “The Politics of Sports Business.” His book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at www.bickley.com or amazonkindle. He can be reached at evanjweiner@yahoo.com
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21 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Kamal Ali Salaam-El
    May 2nd, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Reggie Harrison

    Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we may never know what was going through Junior Seau’s mind. I have yet to entertain the thought of taking my life but I can relate to the pain that a lot of us are going through. I take 10 methadone, 4 oxycodone and 2ml of liquid oxycodone daily and sometimes the pain still overtakes me.

    I just pray that I can hold on and lean on my fellow alumni if I feel that I can’t go on. My heart goes out to Junior and his family and I hope he has found Peace. I sure haven’t found it.

    May Allah bless us all.

    Kamal Ali Salaam-El
    Reggie Harrison
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1974 – 1977

  2. RobertinSeattle
    May 2nd, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    RobertinSeattle

    And another piece from the Star Tribune‘s Jim Souhan: NFL games go on despite fragile players

  3. Rick Hayes
    May 2nd, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    Rick Hayes

    Aloha Kamal Ali Salaam-El:

    Kamal, I believe we played against each other in the L.A. Coliseum during our Rookie Year in 1974 Pre-Season. I, too, have been in pain today following the news of Junior Seau and I find myself wondering about the possibility of CTE being the cause.

    For the last month, I have missed two Brain Scans and MRI’s because of fear and pain. Several months ago, I finally detoxed from a daily dose of over 1000mg of oxycodone via the Subuxone method. I think of suicide almost daily. There were other pills too. I feel much better now but still question the pain and sleep disturbances.

    In your note, I found the realization that these medications treat and cover our emotional traumas as much as our physical pain. And eventually, they stop working due to our Opioid Tolerance.

    I wish you, our fellow Former Players, and myself, a path through all this confusion. We are all one, but unfortunately the NFLPA is failing in providing us guidance and assistance. They are aware of our PAIN and ADDICTIONS. Now they are having SUICIDES thrown in their faces. When will they act truthfully and completely? The BLOOD is on the OWNERS and NFLPA’s hands.

    Rick Hayes
    L.A. Rams 1974
    UW Huskies 1969-1973
    UW Huskies

  4. George Visger
    May 2nd, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    George Visger

    I received a phone call yesterday from an ex-NFL player who played in the mid 90’s. I had met him a few times over the years in my circle of hunting associates. Good guy, successful business man, good family man. He called me yesterday afraid he was developing CTE, as things were spiraling out of control. Major drinking issues, marital problems, thoughts of suicide, business problems etc. Said he had never been depressed before in his life and recently took a shotgun to bed with him to end it all. I told him he needed to get down to Dr Amen’s clinic for a neuro/psych evaluation, which includes microcognitive memory tests and SPECT scans. I also told him he needed to meet me at the Sacramento Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment center and start on HBOT (I offered to let him slide in with me), then I lined him up to start taking large doses of Dr. Barry Sears Omega 3 fish oil and Barry’s SeaHealth Plus antioxidants. Then I directed him to quit drinking and start listening to his wife and others around him as to what he’s really like. It’s ingrained in what’s left of our football brains that we’re always OK and it’s everyone around us who has problems. I think anyone who played the game and is honest with himself can appreciate what I meant.

    On my way into the HBOT clinic to meet the player today, my good friend Dr. Bennett Omalu called to inform me of Junior Seau’s suicide 2 1/2 hours earlier. It just so happens I was a teammate and roommate with Junior’s cousin, Terry Tautolo, during my second year with the 49ers. Then before I arrived at the HBOT clinic, Mark Emmons from the San Jose Mercury News called. Mark wrote an article on me last year and wanted to get my take on Junior’s death. Mike Greenhaulgh, co-owner and director of the HBOT clinic and on my board at the Visger Group, met with my NFL friend and me for an hour and we lined him out. He had already booked a 3-day evaluation at Dr. Amen’s Clinic that morning. Shortly after our meeting, Channel 13 News came in and filmed an interview with me regarding Junior’s death as I took my HBOT treatment. Later this afternoon, Good Day Sacramento called, and wants to do a live interview with me in the station at 8:00 am tomorrow.

    Why is it that so many media groups want information on what’s happening to these players, yet not one peep from De Smith, our spineless talking head, and Roger Goodell, stooge and yes man to the NFL owners? I’ll answer my own question: Both of these crooks are knocking down 8-figure salaries on the blood and brain cells of these young NFL employees and they would each hate to see Congressional oversight on their cash cow. Of course, 8-figure salaries for these punks is nothing compared to the $9.5 BILLION NFL industry. Where in the hell is Congress, allowing the NFL to operate under an antitrust protection?

    We need Congress to show some organs and prosecute these NFL criminals for directly causing the death of countless numbers of their employees, and destroying Lord knows how many families. And the NFL needs to deep-six their Delay, Deny and Hope They Die program.

    How high must we stack the corpses before De Smith and the invisible NFL Players Association and the NFL show some male organs and do what’s right?

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49ers
    1980 & 1981
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  5. Henry Bradley
    May 3rd, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Henry Bradley

    I thank God that I am still alive. I take a lot of medication to get by every day so I can be there for my family and friends. I never sleep more than three hours at a time because of nightmares and falling out of the bed. This happens every night and I am worn down mentally and physically.

    I need to get away but I’m waiting on my Legacy Fund check to pay for it. I’m at a point where even little things make me angry. Junior, I know you couldn’t share your pain because we are taught to be strong men from the time we are born. However, this is more prevalent when we become NFL players.

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1983

  6. Henrietta Watson
    May 3rd, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Sid Watson

    Who is taking moral responsibility?

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

  7. Janet & Michael C. McCoy
    May 3rd, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Mike C. McCoy

    I received a call from my husband yesterday when he received the news of another player’s death. Since Mike is in assisted living for his dememtia all he could do was weep when I answered the phone. I knew why he was crying even before he spoke.

    How many tears do the players, wives and families have to shed before the NFL takes notice? I would like to suggest that the NFL have a plan payment for mental health therapy after this. Most men are not able to express themselves when this tragic diagnosis is received.

    Blessings to all our families.

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

  8. Dave Pear
    May 3rd, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Dave & Heidi.jpg

    There are so many injured and disabled retired players (especially pre-1993) to whom the League has denied their EARNED disability benefits for either brain injuries or broken necks, backs, knees, etc.

    This current disability debacle in the NFL is broken and CANNOT be fixed because it is essentially illegal and violates ERISA Law.

    Just ask disability attorney John Hogan – 35 years of practice and counting! – who has literally rewritten the Plan. But neither the League nor the NFLPA will listen even as they continue to deny disability claims or pay the lowest level in an effort to protect the plan. Watch for John Hogan’s discussion on the disability plan next week as we finalize our shows from the recent Conference.

    I made a careful decision to work with attorney Jason Luckasevic for my concussion lawsuit and with Michael Hausfeld’s firm for my fight with the NFLPA to regain our rights as retired football players that our Union has stolen from us over the years. I’ve personally found them to be of the highest integrity and they share our passion in this battle. They’ve graciously agreed to answer any questions our readers may have on these issues.

    Feel free to call Jason or Rich directly with any questions you may have regarding your own concussion and litigation concerns:

    Jason Luckasevic • Goldberg Persky White (412) 338-9460

    Richard Lewis • Hausfeld LLP (202) 540-7200

    There are only three ways that retired players will ever receive justice (not lip service) from the NFL: Lawsuits, Court of Public Opinion and Congress.

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  9. Gordon Wright
    May 3rd, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    To my mind, the clear challenge of wanting to play in my youth and accepting the pain is tempered by fighting meds today. At 68, I try to take half the meds because I hate the fog of meds more than the pain of life! My family and I pray for All our NFL Brothers and their families because that is all we have left as an NFL Family, whatever your belief.

    May it strengthen us All as we struggle in living our daily lives during and after football.

    Gordon Wright
    Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets
    1967 – 1970

  10. Bruce Maher
    May 3rd, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Bruce Maher

    Nobody has been forced to play NFL football. It is one’s choice. To blame the game itself is not fair, especially (1) if you choose to play many years past the average NFL player and (2) at a position that encourages physical contact more than any other position.

    A person should realize that football is a part-time fleeting experience to enjoy while you can then get a real job and get on with your life.

    Bruce Maher
    Corner back & safety, all the special teams
    Detroit Lions 1960 – 1967
    New York Giants 1968 & 1969

  11. Shannon Jordan
    May 4th, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    Shannon Jordan

    Players and families of players –

    If you need a former player to speak with to discuss privately and confidentially what you are going through, please call our Gridiron Greats office (847) 509-3086. We have lots of players who want to help and can relate to what you are feeling. We will coordinate that and we also can assist medically.

    Please feel free to reach out to us!

    Shannon Jordan
    Gridiron Greats
    Gridiron Greats

  12. RobertinSeattle
    May 4th, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    RobertinSeattle

    To Bruce and many fans who feel the same way –

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and pass along your opinions. We’ve tried our best to keep an open forum of ideas and voices to show the many sides of all the issues that continue affect the retired football player community over the years. Our primary goal has always been to inform and educate as many people as possible – fans and the public in general as well – on as many of these issues as we can.

    When Dave and I first started out doing this nearly 5 years ago, it took a while to finally get more retired players to come forward with their own stories of their mistreatment and abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to be watching out for them after they retired from the game. But over time, as more players came forward with similar stories of their own, it revealed a consistent and long-term pattern and policy of egregious – and I daresay illegal – behavior on the part of both the League AND the Union against the majority of retired players.

    The hardest part was politely answering a mostly uneducated fan base, many of whom still continue to believe that all football players – past and present – made small fortunes to retire comfortably and needed to shut up and go away. We continue to school anyone and everyone that this has never truly been the case nor will it probably ever be the case. While a few stars walk away with the big contracts, all too many actually receive what amounts to be a minimum wage salary when spread out over the years of playing in Pee Wee through high school and then into college before finally making it in to the Big Leagues where many typically last around 3 – 4 years. So many of the men from the 50’s and 60’s informed me that they did indeed truly play for the love of the game back then; when they went on strike in the late 50’s and early 60’s, it shocked me to hear that they were striking to force the owners to finally pay for their uniforms and equipment and not about more pay!

    But let me ask a few questions here: If it turned out that the owners found another new way to make money from showing your picture or a game you played in from your playing days and they decided it was their right to keep all the money without paying one single penny to each of you while sharing all that revenue with the teams, the owners and NFL Films, why wouldn’t you be angry for not getting your fair share? Everyone else is carving out a piece of that pie and you’re not even given a seat at that table anywhere. Does anyone actually still believe today that every time a Beatles’ CD is sold or one of their songs is played in a commercial, each of the Beatles is simply happy to have had the privilege to have played their songs once way back when?

    And if it turned out that the majority of team doctors either offered the owner free medical care – or in some cases, some of them even paid the team to be the “official” team doctor – and then they did everything they could to convince a player to go back in the game after multiple concussions because that’s what they were told to do, would that make you angry? How about setting up phony Committees to “study” concussions ad nauseum for years while denying that concussions cause long-term brain damage?

    And how about finding out that Riddell has actually been paying the NFL an annual licensing fee for decades to be the “Official Helmet of the NFL” and it turns out that you could have been wearing a better helmet to protect you but you weren’t informed about that because it was “just business”? And Pee Wee and high school and college teams have been convinced to buy millions of dollars of Riddell helmets every year because they believed that if it was good enough for the NFL, it must be good enough for us?

    Maybe it’s just me, but my blood boils each time when I hear more about how so many men trusted these people to look after your best interests while also already taking the lion’s share of the profits from a game where the product is actually made up of the men who play the game. And then they still want to steal even more from mismanaging your rightfully EARNED disability and pension funds as well!

    Without each and every one of you, there is no football.

    And my personal condolences go out to Junior Seau and his family in this time of grief. My hope is that something good will come of this sad story.

    Robert

  13. John Hogan
    May 4th, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    John Hogan

    Bruce,

    Yes, almost all NFL players realized that their football career would be short and that afterwards they would get a real job and move on with their lives.

    However, they found that their bodies – and brains – were so damaged in the NFL, it prevented them from being able to do just that.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  14. Bruce Maher
    May 5th, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Bruce Maher

    John –

    Are you stating that the pre-NFL days (high school & college football) did not contribute in any way to our physical and mental health issues when each player enters into the after-football phases of our lives? Do you contend that the NFL consciously adjusted the game to make it more violent and/or has reduced safety measures (changed equipment, technique, rules) to promote the game further for economic reasons? We all are aware the risks you take when stepping on a football field, starting with the first scrimmage you experience. If you are good at it, it can pay for your education, and even for a very select few, provide some startup money (now even your retirement funds, before you even have to play one down in a seasonal game) …all voluntary personal decisions with all the risks very apparent before you go forward. The NFL and/or the game of football – unless it has been cheating us as referenced above or in any other matter – is not the problem.

    Possibly, the actual contracts that we decided to sign is the problem.

    Thanks
    Bruce Maher
    Corner back & safety, all the special teams
    Detroit Lions 1960 – 1967
    New York Giants 1968 & 1969

  15. John Hogan
    May 5th, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    John Hogan

    Bruce,

    You may be smarter than most NFL players – who did NOT know what playing the game would do to their brains – and how the various aches and pains they experienced would only get worse (degenerate) with advancing age. As for high school and college, they provide the “Minor Leagues” at no cost to the NFL – so that those select few who can make it can help the owners make billions.

    But I am delighted to hear that you survived it all and are apparently well – and doing well.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  16. Woody Bennett
    May 5th, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Woody Bennett

    Forgive me for changing the subject but I just received a letter from the Retirement Plan stating that they made changes to the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan and now I no longer qualify for the Legacy Fund because I have been receiving the minimum from the Plan B disability – $3300 – so my Benefits credits have been adjusted. I should be receiving $1080 per month for Legacy Benefits which according to the new amendment to the Plan, I no longer qualify. The letter from the Plan office was not even able to provide any specifics prior to the recent amendment to the Retirement Plan; it took them 10 months to figure out how to take away our Legacy Benefit! Is there anyone else who has found themselves in the same position?

    Maybe attorney John Hogan can give us some insight on what has transpired and if there is anything that can be done about this?

    I also want to add that we are all praying for Junior’s family and so sad about this tragic loss to our family.

    Woody Bennett
    New York Jets, Miami Dolphins
    1979 – 1988

  17. Tony Davis
    May 5th, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Tony Davis

    Bruce,

    I noticed that you played from 1960 to 1969. Congratulations on a great career. There were many players who played during the same time frame as you and for as many years as you. Research will tell you that once Astro Turf came into the League, as a prominent field of choice, that careers were cut nearly 40%. The NFL loves former players like you. Players who say, “We knew the risk” …then you say that we were aware and it was “all voluntary personal decisions with all the risks very apparent before you go forward.”

    Well, brother, not me. The NFL is a job. The NFL is the richest Professional Sport in the history of professional sports. The players who have made the League wealthy beyond what they could ever have imagined were and are paid employees with rights under the Labor Laws of this country. What separates us, the NFL Player is the fact that the majority of us are assured to have crippling damage to our bodies 15 to 18 years after our employment with this company, the NFL. Now we are witnessing the neurological damage and its effects on many former players.

    If you work for someone and you suffer debilitating damage to your body that not only limits your ability to function normally but threatens your life, then I would suggest something is wrong with this particular system. To suggest no liability by the employer is irresponsible to those employees who suffer daily. I am a former employee. I am the NFL Alumni Chapter President for the Rocky Mountain region. For over a decade, I have been an Advocate for NFL Retired Players and their families. I stand with great men like Attorney John Hogan, Bruce Laird, Jack Thompson, Ben Lynch, Mike Haynes, Joe DeLamielleure, Jeff Nixon, Rod Smith, Dave Pear, Robert Lee and literally thousands of other NFL Retired Players and I say: Enough is enough. We will bring this fight right to their doorstep. We will never stand down.

    Lastly, to the NFLPA: We hoped against hope that you would do what is right and stand with the men who stood on picket lines so you could have the jobs you now enjoy. You may be the most reprehensible organization in the history of US Labor. We have to fight this fight ourselves.

    Tony Davis
    Cincinnati Bengals & Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1976 – 1982

  18. Bruce Maher
    May 6th, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Bruce Maher

    John –

    Your perception that I’m smarter and doing well, because I am attempting to be realistic about who is really at fault for the current after-football life facing NFL players, I take as both sarcastic and condescending.

    I have several health issues that I am currently and have been from the beginning, dealing with since I hung up my cleats, including numbness in my fingers, loss of memory, periodic headaches and many places in my body that have prematurely degenerated. Plus an existing bout with cancer. My point of view is that these problems should have been dealt with contractually from the first year of our Union’s formulation, under Garvey, then Upshaw, who both decided to take care of a select few – namely themselves – instead of dealing with players’ after-football lives. Written contracts are what is needed, not “poor me’s” after the fact.

    FYI – I am part of a class action lawsuit claiming the owners held back the findings from independent studies on the results of playing in the NFL which could have helped us all decide if and how long to play.

    Finally, I am not an attorney that could represent any side of these issues with the hope of making some more money.

    Good luck,
    thanks,
    Bruce Maher
    Corner back & safety, all the special teams
    Detroit Lions 1960 – 1967
    New York Giants 1968 & 1969

  19. RobertinSeattle
    May 6th, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    RobertinSeattle

    Bruce –

    Thanks for your clarification. And before this escalates the wrong way because of simple misunderstandings, I can honestly also say that if you intended cynicism in your original comment, it never came through. Now that you’ve shared your personal issues as well as your participation in a lawsuit, it certainly becomes clearer to all of us.

    Many are now comparing the lawsuits to big tobacco in many ways: “What did they know and when did they know it?” While most would agree that there is always the concept of free choice, each of us makes those choices based on what we’ve learned or been told as fact. Both the League and the Union choose to tell its players that you’ve been given the best equipment and the best medical expertise on the sidelines, even as people like Upshaw also helped perpetuate nonexistent laws and faked actuarial studies on your life expectancies generated by an insurance company that’s tied to the owners of the Chicago bears. When you take all of this as a grand plan to deceive each of you men over the years even as they put over a billion dollars into disability plans that they continue to mismanage and deny to 95% of the retired players, that’s what makes most people mad – and I’m not even a football player!

    As for John Hogan, in the long time we’ve known and worked with him, John has proven himself time and again to be an attorney – and human being – of the highest integrity. Much of his work for retired players has been done with little or no reward other than the satisfaction of helping others and righting a great wrong. While John will never say so publicly, most will never know how many people he has helped who have then turned around and refused to pay him for his work! Dave and I can honestly stand up for his integrity and commitment to helping retired football players in their fight to get access to their earned benefits. We can assure you – no sarcasm even intended from this man.

    All the best
    Robert

  20. Bruce Maher
    May 6th, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Bruce Maher

    John –

    (and to all other concerned ex-players’ NFL player associations: NFLPAA, NFL Alumni, “live” area chapters, and any other organization that claims an affiliation representing vested ex-NFL players)

    We can now add George Martin to the list of the obnoxious “clique-connected” people who have represented our after-football lives to the team owners for their personal gain only through an entitlement. This latest ass had experienced 3 bankruptcies before being hired and still passed “muster” with the Board of Directors to take our organization to the next possible level! 2 of my ex-teammates, Randy Minnear (Giants) and Tom Nowatzke (Lions) expressed additional support for him while he was funding his relatives with our association’s money. And now our association may have to file bankruptcy as well.

    We have to be organized into ONE collective organization and treat our existence as you would a business. Until then, who will be the next “entitlement popular” crony representing me?

    Bruce Maher
    Detroit Lions 1960 – 1967
    New York Giants 1968 & 1969

  21. John Hogan
    May 6th, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    John Hogan

    Bruce,

    Thanks for joining the conversation (and I’m not being sarcastic). In fact, after reading several of your posts, it seems rather clear that we have common interests and are not on opposite sides. I agree with you 100% that the PA should have been properly taking care of retired players interests all along – but they haven’t – and that is a big part of our fight!

    “We” nailed them a couple of years ago over the GLAs. We have a pending lawsuit against them in Minnesota (perhaps our best chance for a well-funded and well-organized organization that only represents retired players.) Our complaints are not just lawsuits against the NFL. And I certainly was not being sarcastic when I presumed that you were doing well. I see so many guys so beat up mentally and physically that I am happy when a guy with a good career like yours is doing OK.

    Stay tuned, bring in some of your old teammates, and let’s keep fighting until we get what we deserve!

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate