Even More on the Legacy Benefits

May 8, 2012

We just received another note from retired player and attorney Bob Stein with more clarification on the Legacy Fund Benefits. Many of you will already be familiar with Bob as one of the lead attorneys for the Dryer vs. NFL (Films) lawsuit. Dave also received a memo from Joe Browne out of the NFL offices that contains an interesting note about your Legacy Fund benefits as well as a proposal for widows that has apparently been on the table awaiting an answer from… yes – you guessed it: Your Union. Please call or write your Union to let them know they need to get off their collective butts and DO THE RIGHT THING! Pay the widows NOW!
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We’ll start off with Bob Stein’s notes:
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May 8, 2012
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To: Fellow Retired NFL Players
From: Bob Stein
RE: Legacy Benefit
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Men,
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I spoke to the NFL Player Benefits (“Plan”) office yesterday and got what I think is some clarity on two more issues regarding the Legacy Benefit which have many retired players confused. I am passing the conversation notees along in hopes of helping.
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Bob Stein
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LEGACY BENEFIT INFORMATION
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While I cannot provide legal advice on this matter, I would like to pass along the information I received by telephone on May 7, 2012 from the NFL Player Benefits Office for other retired players waiting for Legacy Benefit payments or wondering about their status.
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1. Players currently receiving NFL Disability payments – I was told these players would receive only THE GREATER OF:
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a) the amount of monthly disability payment they currently receive; OR
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b) the total of monthly pension payment they would now qualify for based on years of service, etc. plus the monthly Legacy Benefit they would qualify for under the 2011 CBA.
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They made it clear you only receive whichever monthly amount is greater. So players whose current disability payment is greater than the total of (b) would receive NO additional payment from the Legacy Benefit in the new CBA.
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2. Players who assigned all or part of their pension benefits to an ex-spouse in their divorce:
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I was told each of these situations would be reviewed individually by Plan attorneys and actuaries to see what payment rights that individual player’s divorce decree language assigned to his ex-spouse. Since the language on what divorce obligations are continuing can be different for every decree, based on what was agreed to or awarded by the court, the Plan advisors must go through them individually to see what should go to each ex-spouse and each player.
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I hope this information helps clarify some remaining Legacy Benefit issues. The number of the NFL Player Benefits Office is (800) 638-3186.
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And some of what was relayed to retirees from the NFL Offices today:
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Dear Retired Player:
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The following items may interest you:
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1. Attached is a four-page summary of the recent record-based study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of all retirees who played in the NFL for at least five seasons from 1959 through 1988. We previewed this study in the most recent NFL RETIRED PLAYER NEWS that was emailed to you on April 24. NIOSH also sent via regular mail a copy of this same information to the 3,439 players whose records were used for the study.
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2. More than 250 retirees who had been waiting to hear from the Pension Benefit office in Baltimore regarding their Legacy payments were mailed information on their individual cases in recent weeks. One of the last group of retirees to receive information will be those players who have QDROs and also receive Disability Benefits. Also, the 320 widows and other beneficiaries of vested pre-93 players who died prior to the 2011 CBA being signed still are awaiting word from the NFLPA regarding those Legacy benefits. The league is on record as stating it will pay 51% of the costs for the widows benefit if the NFLPA pays the balance.
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3. The NFL Alumni Association announced over this past weekend at a Board meeting in Arizona the resignation of Executive Director George Martin, who had served in that post since October, 2009. Ex-Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik, who serves as the non-salaried President of the Alumni Association, also will act as interim Executive Director until a full time successor is named.
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Incidentally, the Association’s annual Super Bowl of Golf, which matches winning teams from all local Alumni chapters, was held in conjunction with the Board meeting and was won by a team led by ex-Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. Congratulations.
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4. All of us in the NFL family mourn the death of NFL great Junior Seau last week. There will be a private memorial service and burial this Friday, May 11 in Oceanside, California followed by a public memorial that same night at QualComm Stadium, the home of the Chargers and site for many of Junior’s on-the field heroics.
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Joe Browne
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Senior Advisor to the Commissioner

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13 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    May 8th, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Dave at Home

    Joe Browne,

    Some questions:

    What about concussions and brain injuries? (All concussions are brain injuries.) Has the NFL kept records on brain injuries? If not, why not?

    Has there been a study of the long- and short-term effects of repeated hits to the head?

    Why does the current Bell/Rozelle disability plan not recognize brain injuries when a retired player applies for disability?

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  2. Henry Bradley
    May 8th, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Henry Bradley

    I’ve been telling former players all along that the NFLPA would not give us the Legacy Benefits. The fund was supposed to be set up so every former player would get a share according to their years played. However, it was actually lumped in with all other benefits so the money could stay in-house to be shared by others.

    I’m angry because they waited 10 months just to tell me they were going to keep my money. But I can’t say what really needs to be said because your website forbids it!

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1983

  3. Glenn Bujnoch
    May 9th, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Glenn Bujnoch

    Why were we told from the beginning that this would be separate from the Pension Plan?!!

    Once again the early retirement benefit (25%) has come back again to bite me. Does this ever end? What makes it worse is that since I am under disability, I can’t work.

    The legend of Big Gene lives on! No money for you!

    Glenn Bujnoch
    Cincinnati Bengals 76 – 83
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 83 – 84

  4. Susan Bailey
    May 9th, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Philadelphia Eagles

    I am one of those 320 widows and the fact that we have been pushed “to the back of the shelf,” so to speak, is somehow not surprising. Yet it’s so wrong!

    I hope that Joe Pisarcik will step up and address this during his interim tenure, however long that may be. If he does a good job, perhaps it will become permanent. Joe, if you read this, it’s on your shoulders!

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

  5. Henry Bradley
    May 10th, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Henry Bradley

    Sarah,

    I hope you’re enjoying spending my money. Dave, what are we going to do about this injustice? I am so tired of these people who believe they can keep getting away with stealing from us.

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1982

  6. Henrietta Watson
    May 10th, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    Sid Watson

    Thanks, Dave and Bob. Keep chipping away and maybe someone will have the moral decency and do the right thing. I cannot believe that all players have the attitude that ‘I have mine, the heck with you.’

    My husband did so love the game of football.

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

  7. John Tavaglione
    May 13th, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Way tired of hearing about all of this. I was injured on my job in 78′ and had to live without total use of one of my hands. Workers Comp. gave me a few thousand dollars and sent me on my way. How many other carpenters/construction get injured and get nothing for the rest of their lives? A heck of a lot more than the football players. They picked their occupation/sport. Live with it like the rest of us poor people out there.

    John Tavaglione

  8. RobertinSeattle
    May 13th, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    RobertinSeattle

    John -

    Thanks for posting a comment. Your thoughts are not uncommon from a lot of fans and non-fans alike. And it would be advice well-taken if only it was as simple as many often tend to see this situation. Unfortunately, as in many segments of corporate America, there’s a lot more under the surface that we continue to clarify for people willing to listen, even of we have to do it one ear at a time.

    What all too many people never realize is that there have been pension and disability benefit funds that have been in place for decades containing well over a billion dollars under the management and control of the wrong people. If it were simply a case of ‘you-knew-what-you-were-getting-into-so-go-away-now,’ we wouldn’t need to continue educating everyone and holding those accountable for their broken contracts and promises.

    These men were told over the years that there were pension and disability benefits that would be available for them to fall back on when they retired and/or needed it. Unfortunately, both the League and the very Union that’s supposed to be representing these retirees continue to deny 95% of the applicants their due using a Byzantine and stacked process intended to make it both difficult to apply and virtually impossible to qualify. When even the greatest quarterback of all time, Johnny Unitas, was cheated out of his earned disability benefits, you KNOW there’s a problem. Most fans don’t know that little fact.

    Even worse, the NFL has used doctors on the sideline who work for the team for free – and some even pay them to be the official doctor – to tell players they can go back into the game without any real neurological tests (until they started adding neurologists recently). Then the helmet company Riddell gets to be the “Official helmet of the NFL” by paying them millions in sponsorship fees year-in-and-year-out to create the illusion that everyone was using the best protective equipment (and putting Pee Wee, high school and college players at the same high risk because they also believed “If it’s good enough for NFL players, guess it’s good enough for us!”).

    It’s not a matter of asking for something that’s not there, John. These guys are finally demanding something that they were PROMISED by their employers and their so-called Union. These guys are finally holding the very people accountable who told them they were given the best medical care and equipment available. NOT!

    And now the NFL is trying to circumvent the Workers Compensation process as well now that more of the players are finally realizing that it may be an option AFTER being cheated of their disability benefits that they’ve actually earned and paid for.

    And BTW – keep this in mind: When a huge Fortune 500 employer like the NFL continues to disavow their responsibilities and obligations to their employees, who do you think ends up footing that bill when these guys need their knee and hip surgeries and long-term dementia care? Social Security and Medicare. In other words, YOUR wallet and MINE. If nothing else makes fans mad, I hope that does. Call your Congressman. Call your Senator. Tell them to make the NFL pay their own bills!

    Hope that helps make it clearer.

    Robert

  9. Joanie Hardy
    May 15th, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Joanie Hardy

    When you state that 250 retired players have been sent information, do you mean since August, 2011? If that’s the case, it will be years before they finish at that rate.

    Great job security for those involved I suppose.

    Joanie Hardy

  10. Marilyn Bishop
    May 23rd, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Bill Bishop

    Has anything more been done regarding the 320 widows’ benefits?

    Marilyn Bishop
    widow Bill Bishop (1931 – 1998)
    Chicago Bears 1952 – 1961
    Minnesota Vikings 1962

  11. RobertinSeattle
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    RobertinSeattle

    Marilyn -

    Unfortunately, lots of talk on the part of the NFLPA but no real action other than hot air. And now their big boost to the widows is a “Petition” they want everyone to sign to send to the NFL? We’ll be putting up a new post shortly on this subject.

    Robert

  12. Henrietta Watson
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Sid Watson

    UNBELIEVABLE!!!

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

  13. Laurel Ayers
    May 24th, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    John Ayers

    Mrs. Bishop,

    I hope this information might help: I read a transcript of the 2012 Spring League Meeting where I interpreted Jeff Pash, EVP, as saying that the ownership was willing to go ahead and provide 51% of the benefit for widows/survivors retroactive to last August and were hoping the NFLPA would fund the 49% that they pay for the Legacy Fund. The source was nflcommunications.com.

    Laurel Ayers
    Widow of John Ayers
    1953 – 1995
    San Francisco 49ers 1976 – 1986
    Denver Broncos 1987