Nolan Harrison III Speaks…

Apr 24, 2013

Nolan Harrison Pink Bowtie
Thus spoke Nolan Harrison III in another one of his “Former Players Newsletters” about meetings and conferences earlier this week in Sacramento about a newly proposed State Bill A.B. 1309. In case you hadn’t heard, Bill 1309 “would exempt minor and major league professional athletes from filing workers comp claims in California if their team is based outside of the state, according to the California Legislature website. Currently, California’s “cumulative trauma” provision in its workers comp law allows players to make a claim in California if they have played at least one game in the state.”
“The legislation would apply to professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer players who play temporarily in California.”
This summary was from
We’re wondering what planet Nolan Harrison III was writing from. A contingent of retired players was definitely present on Monday, including Conrad Dobler, Ron Mix, Mel Owens and George Visger among others. In fact, here’s a direct report from George that we received that evening:
George VisgerMel Owens contacted me when a bunch of the players met for dinner the night before. Dobler, Mix, Ickey Woods and several others were in attendance. The next morning, 25 – 30 of us met at the attorney/lobbyists, broke into 5 groups and each team met face-to-face with several Senators, Congress folks and various other legislators at the Capitol.
Then we had a sitdown lunch with all. I sat with Senator Perez who was shocked to hear what was going on. De came striding into the room like a politician. Fake handshakes and “Hi, De Smith” as he went around the room. Shook my hand and his face dropped when I squeezed his and said ‘George Visger!’ Then he started babbling about how I’m doing, etc. Conrad and I caught him in the hall a bit later and ripped him til he slithered away.
All in all, it was a GREAT meeting with all.
And disability attorney John Hogan had a few words to add:
April 24, 2013
An Open Response to Nolan Harrison’s Letter to Stop California Workers Comp Reform
I can’t remember when I have read a more hypocritical or disingenuous piece about retired NFL players.
In your open letter to retired players, you attempted to castigate retired players for not showing up in Sacramento, California to lobby against the Bill pending in that state which might stop or limit retired players from being able to file a worker’s comp claim there. First, as a full time employee of the NFLPA, I assume that your expenses were paid by the PA to travel from the east coast to the west. I know you are a big guy and I have a difficult time imagining you squeezing into a coach airplane seat for a cross-country trek. Are you so out of touch with the real world of pre-’93 retired players that you do not realize few can afford to make that trip? Apart from the unaffordable cost, many of these men are in too much pain to spend the better part of a day in an airplane (or two) even if they had a first class seat.
Second, while I’m delighted that so many guys have been able to obtain benefits through the unique California Workman’s Comp loophole which allows them to file decades after they retired from the NFL, surely you must appreciate the significant administrative costs being borne by the State of California in the adjudication of these claims. (i.e. – It isn’t just the teams and their insurance carriers bearing the costs of adjudicating these claims.) As far as I know, California, like many other states (and unlike the NFL) is in financial crisis.
As you know, the CBA requires that all teams must provide workers’ compensation benefits; and in states where WC claims are barred for professional athletes, they must effectively be self-insured to handle these claims. Unlike many of us “bloggers” and “so-called former player organization leaders” – and despite our best efforts, including major litigation in the Eller case, we do not have a seat at the table in bargaining for retired players’ rights and benefits. In that regard, we are at the whims and mercy of the PA. That being the case, why aren’t you, DeMaurice Smith, Cornelius Bennett, et al lobbying for every state which is home to a professional sports franchise to have a liberal worker’s comp benefit like California’s?
Worker’s Compensation is a creature of state law and each state has various criteria. In general, a worker must file an injury claim while still employed, or very shortly thereafter. Again, I am delighted that many of my friends have been able to obtain money and medical benefits from California, but why should retired football players be treated differently (under state law) than a guy who digs ditches? Or someone who works in a steel mill? Anyone who performs arduous physical labor which takes a toll on their body as they get older? No state should treat retired NFL players differently than other workers who toil in their state and suffer injury. But the NFL should – and it should be up to the PA to make sure that they do!
As you know and as I have learned, the manifestation of injuries suffered during an NFL career – including the sequelae of concussions – often takes place many years after playing days are over. The worker’s compensation systems of the various states are not geared to handle such latent injuries and untimely claims. The disability benefits offered under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan (also a creature of the CBA) contemplate the fact that injuries – or at least total disability – can take up to 15 years after retirement to manifest. That being the case, what has the PA done to advocate a better disability system which would include more generous and longer line of duty benefits? (That is, for guys who have impairment for injury but might still be working; and/or not totally disabled.)
Your letter mentions that one of the most important aspects of workers’ comp benefits is lifetime medical benefits. That is true; and they are invaluable. However, the benefits are only for the particular injured body part, not for unrelated or general medical issues.
If the PA really wanted to show leadership, they would convince today’s players that having lifetime medical benefits is much more valuable in the long run than having a present day multimillion dollar contract. (Oh, you would have to convince Agents like Tom Condon that they would get less money for actually having the best interest of their clients at heart – good luck with that!) If the PA was really concerned about retired players well-being, they would be fighting incessantly for lifetime medical benefits for retired players. They paid their dues. They made the game what it is today. The money is there.
Retired players shouldn’t have to count on a unique loophole in California’s laws to get the benefits they deserve. You should know that.
While I do not handle worker’s compensation claims and am not a member of the California Bar, it would seem to be unconstitutional to extinguish claims which have already been filed – should this bill pass.
John Hogan at the officeSincerely,
John V. Hogan
Disability Attorney
Retired NFL Player Advocate
Member of Fourth and Goal
Proud contributor to Dave Pear’s Blog
Sponsor, Buffalo Bills Alumni Association
And yes – we’ll be covering this topic in detail at our upcoming IFV Conference in Las Vegas May 3 – 5. We’ll also be covering equally important areas of interest to retired football players including the concussion lawsuits and both sides will be presenting their opposing points of view in the NFL Films lawsuit. Not engaged? Maybe Nolan Harrison III might want to spend less of HIS time and YOUR money on golf tournaments and actually start listening to retired players (after he stops talking about himself, of course!).

9 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Chris Bober
    April 24th, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Chris Bober

    Please keep us up to date about the California Workman’s Comp situation. I filed a claim and I was all set to request a settlement and go to hearing or trial when I received a notice that all the cases have been “stayed”! I could really use that money and also the lifetime medical coverage will help me get insurance when I go off the NFL’s plan this year.

    I have been at it for almost 4 years with several doctors’ visits, MRI’s, x-rays, etc.

    Thanks for the updates.

    Chris Bober
    New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs
    2001 – 2006

  2. Conrad Dobler
    April 24th, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Conrad Dobler

    I was in California and the difference between Nolan Harrison and the rest of us was once again, it was the retired Players pulling the wagon for a benefit that will also help the current players. WHERE WERE THEY?!! NOT ONE OF THEM WAS PRESENT! They continue to sit in the wagon as we pull it.

    I asked De Smith where they were and all he could do was yell and repeat, “We got you the Legacy Fund! We got you the Legacy Fund!” His fat lip was bouncing out of control. Where does he get off talking to me in such a manner? That is how much respect that man has for us. I even saw Dick Berthelson there in California. He is still sucking on the teet of the PA. As for Nolan, he shows up wearing a pink bow tie in a $1,000 outfit that made him look like an overpaid current player. I saw no purpose for him being there other than to get more free miles from the airlines.

    I have lost what the little respect I did have for De Smith after he couldn’t even form an entire statement without spit coming out of his mouth. I suppose my questions just didn’t sit well with him.

    Conrad Dobler
    St. Louis Cardinals, New Orleans Saints
    Buffalo Bills
    1972 – 1981

  3. Lou Piccone
    April 24th, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Lou Piccone

    This post is so right on the money. Oooops… Should I say “Phoney”? – that I just gave my computer a Standing Ovation!

    There are names and phone numbers of the Representatives in California that can help with this cause…..The one thing we all can do is pick up the phone and dial that number…6,3,4,5,7,8,9……that’s my number…in case nobody recognizes that line, it’s from an “oldie but goodie”. All ya gotta do is PICK! UP! THE TEL-E-PHONE AND DIAL…..THOSE REPRESENTATIVES…

    JUST ASK DAVE FOR THOSE NUMBERS – I’M PRETTY SURE HE HAS THEM. Let’s get after it and keep the “one and only” door open to us for QUALITY OF LIFE CARE AND FUTURE MEDICAL.


    Lou Piccone
    NY Jets – 1974 – 1976
    Buffalo Bills – 1977 – 1983

  4. Angelo F. Coniglio
    April 24th, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Ange Coniglio

    Much as I support the right of former Professional Football players to receive aid for their football-induced ailments, I have to give the NFLPA a big razzberry. This “Union” acts ‘holier than thou’ in trying to assure that SOMEONE ELSE pay these deserving men what THEY, THEMSELVES – and the League that it’s in bed with – should be paying. If Nolan is truly so concerned about retired players, why doesn’t he lead his “Union” in making changes that will allow retired players from all eras to receive the care they deserve for conditions they developed while building the game that today’s millionaire players feed from?

    Angelo F. Coniglio
    Lifelong Fan
    Remember the AFL

  5. George Visger
    April 24th, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    George Visger Brain Scans

    As I stood on the steps of the Capitol building and looked at all the former players on canes, walkers, with replaced joints and plumbing in their brain, I could only wonder where the other so-called former player leaders were? Could it be they were in worse shape than those attending? Could they too have lost their jobs, their homes and most of their minds from brain injuries sustained while playing like I have? I could only attend due to the fact I sleep at the Hyperbaric Oxygen clinic on weekends in order to visit my family and rotate with a few friends in So Cal during the week.

    Over the years, the NFLPA has TALKED about fighting for former players. They like to take credit for things they did not accomplish such as benefits for pre-’93 players. They DID accomplish landing a $2 Million bonus for De Smith while tossing $1 Million into the Legacy Fund. If an estimated 15,000 former players are still surviving, that works out to $666 each. They like to take credit for supporting former players, yet where were they when I turned to them while still playing in ’81? I was worried I was headed for a fall PRIOR to even knowing my shunt would fail. Where were they when I repeatedly called during the next 3 years while I fought off creditors and continued to pay my union dues for several more years? Where were they when I was forced to hire an attorney and be subjected to questioning on stand by the 49’ers attorney about what I did my last day of playing over 3 years prior? I literally cannot remember what I did 3 hours ago most days, much less 3 years ago.

    Where was the NFLPA to notify former players about this important bill? I received a text at 8:00 pm Sunday night from Justin Hairston just as I was driving to So Cal to stay with a friend. Justin happened to next to Mel Owens on a plane that afternoon as Mel was on his way to Sacramento for the meetings. Why didn’t Justin know?

    I live in Sacramento on weekends. My office has been here for 15 years. I read the Sacramento Bee nearly daily, yet had no idea of this important bill or meeting. Why is it now that the NFLPA mouthpieces show up on the Capitol steps but I’ve never seen them here before? Could it have been the fact that there were several media groups there filming De deliver his oracle? There are a lot of former and active players in the Sacramento area. Why did none of my associates know of the meeting? Dan Bunz, Jason Hairston, Doug Cosbie, Dean Miraldi: All of them live in the area, are good friends of mine, and would have attended in a heartbeat. Yet none of them knew about it. No tweets, no letters, no articles, no blogs. No Union protecting their rights.

    Workers Compensation is the only lifetime medical benefit I receive and only because I was forced to sue for it in ’84. Why have we not heard nothin’ (won’t touch the grammar) from these supposed former players activists? You have big balls to ask me that question. Until fairly recently, I was one of the only players to have ever won a Workers Comp claim against the NFL. And with NO help from my “Union.”

    You want an activist? Last year my teammate Dan Bunz and I received awards on the CA Senate Floor for our work with all Traumatic Brain Injury survivors and former players benefits. I’ve met with Senator Ted Gaines three times, Congressman Tom McClintock and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. Where in the hell is my “Union”? Why do I – a broke, mentally impaired former player – have to battle my way into legislators’ offices to fight for my earned rights? Where is that big-shot-corporate-attorney-head-of-my-Union?

    Just over a year ago, the 49ers work comp carrier, The Travelers, tried to buy me out and close my case. They offered me $73,000 cash and $1,160/mo for 15 years. $73,000 might cover about 8-9 days in intensive care after a brain surgery. I’ve been in intensive care up to 14 days on more than one occasion when my brain surgeries went south. Keep in mind, I have never EVER received any type of disability payment from the NFL since my original injury in ’81 (other than for a few weeks of temporary disability after a brain surgery) – not one penny. And I don’t receive a penny in monthly payments. Never have. When I finally won, I felt lucky to have even gotten my medical left open. Are you now accusing me of being paid by the NFL? Who’s brain-damaged here? Me or you?

    Who is fighting the unselfish fight and who is being opportunistic when it’s something they will benefit from personally? Great question. Other than taking advantage of an opportunity for you and De to parade around with your typical charades in front of media and California legislators, I didn’t see anyone else benefiting from this. Former players standing up for benefits they have not only earned but paid for through the CBA is not something they will benefit from personally. These are their EARNED and PAID-for rights. (How many of you actually even knew that the players pay the owners Work Comp premiums through the CBA?). These are EARNED benefits, due ALL injured employees.

    Having stood next to you on the Capitol steps and listening to De spew his lies, I witnessed you were the only former player clapping after De’s deliveries. Who’s benefiting from that personally?

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49ers 80 & 81 Super Bowl XVI
    Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused brain surgeries
    (As I was forced to prove in a 1984 Work Comp court of law)
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  6. Jim Kovach
    April 24th, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Jim Kovach

    I was reading John Hogan’s excellent comment and one word struck me – ‘latency.’

    For 5 years, I ran a federally-funded, national center of excellence conducting basic research in aging and its association with chronic diseases.

    Research has now proven conclusively that with chronic diseases, the clinical course is early life trauma, latency and later life disease (e.g. – neurological, orthopedic, cardiovascular).

    In other words, the Parkinson’s disease a former NFL player manifests has its origin in head trauma suffered decades earlier and no one disputes that by the time a former NFL player manifests a tremor, he has lost 90% of his substantia nigra.

    Its as simple as A (NFL experience) + B (living as a former NFL player) = C (later life physical issues that should be embraced by NFLPA et al as a part of service for the cause).

    I hope and trust that the NFLPA, Workers’ Comp and others will read and learn the basic ABCs of what science has proven.

    Jim Kovach
    New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49’ers
    1979 – 1985

  7. Tony Davis
    April 24th, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    Tony Davis

    It has been a while since we heard from Nolan and he is way overdue in making one of his legendary stupid and amazingly ignorant statements. Consider the source: Employed by the NFLPA and has never done one thing in advocacy for NFL Retired Players.

    Go away, Nolan…

    Tony Davis
    Cincinnati Bengals & Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    1976 – 1982

  8. Doug Beaudoin
    April 25th, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Doug Beaudoin

    Another shot to the gut by the almighty NFL.

    It looks as though Workmans Comp in California may be going away with an 11-0 vote in committee vote yesterday. God willing, somebody fights for our rights that we are losing piece-by-piece.

    As John Hogan said, it seems unconstitutional that cases pending from 2- 3- 4 years ago are now also in jeopardy of being extinguished. If California needs to close a loophole, then fine. But set a fixed date in the future that your claim needs to be filed. It seems unlawful to act like the claims filed years ago don’t exist.

    Doug Beaudoin
    NFL: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers
    1976 – 1982
    USFL: Tampa Bay Bandits
    1983 – 1986

  9. Lou Piccone
    April 25th, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Lou Piccone

    I spoke with Mel Owens from Namanny Byrne and Owens today. He alerted me that this Bill AB 1309 could be passed in a very short period (as soon as two weeks) so it is incumbent for everyone to write, call and tell someone else in the Former Player Ranks, because this committee has no idea what they’re doing. They need to hear from our ranks that have been “left out” with no medical and the ramification to us and the illegally gotten gains of the Owners by closing this last window of Future Medical Salvation for all of us!

    Hopefully in the very near future, there will be a post regarding the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why ….made simple so that we can get our collective voice out immediately!

    Just Do It! And call somebody else to Just Do It too! Let’s keep one of the most important benefits left to those of us still alive!

    Lou Piccone #89
    New York Jets 1974 – 1976
    Buffalo Bills 1977 – 1983