EDITOR’S NOTE: Is there a pattern here? As always, nothing ever really changes with the NFL (and the NFLPA by association). After years of propaganda and misinformation, the League announced that Dr. No Ira Casson and Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman would no longer be running the MTBI Committee (that’s the MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Committee – LoL!). Just like when he was first brought on board to replace Gene Upshaw in 2009, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith announced that he was firing the Groom Law Group because it was a conflict of interest. (But according to their latest tax returns, it turns out the NFLPA still managed to pay Groom Law Group over $1 million in fees last year.) And just like the San Diego Chargers’ controversial Dr. DWI Chao lobbied on the NFL’s behalf to ensure that Junior Seau’s brain did NOT get into the hands of pathologist and CTE scientist Dr. Bennet Omalu. It seems clear that none of these people have any intention of real change – it’s all about how much less it costs to hire PR spin doctors to change public perceptions instead. We were debating which title would be more appropriate for this post: Different Day, Same Crap! or You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! . So now comes this latest piece from Patrick Hruby that finds Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman still working deep inside the NFL. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick. .
Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner: . . THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS . BY EVAN WEINER COMMENTARY . The NFL job audition includes making the “suicide squad” rather than the special teams squad .
May 11, 2013
Examiner . The National Football League is open for business again. Players are on the field showing coaches that they can indeed play football even though the season is months away. The players showcasing their talents aren’t the normal, everyday players. No – these guys on the field are young guys trying to catch the eye of a coach and make a team and it doesn’t matter if they are first round draft picks or free agents hoping to just get to a training camp in July. . Not much is said about the long term health of these guys; they are just anxious to play football. Another one-time former football player, George Sauer, Jr. passed away at 69 years of age this week from congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease. There may be some unintentional irony in Sauer’s passing from Alzheimer’s disease as he walked away from the New York Jets and the National Football League after the 1970 season because he found pro football dehumanizing and it “both glorifies and destroys bodies” as he described in a 1983 article in the New York Times. . Sauer was a wide receiver. . The young guys trying to impress the coaches in all likelihood never heard of George Sauer. But they probably know Tedy Bruschi who played for the New England Patriots (1996 – 2008) and is now a football commentator on ESPN. .continue reading »
Brain concussions. CTE. Alcohol and drugs. Take these issues that have only recently become more openly discussed along with 101 more ingredients in family life and you have a very complicated recipe for making a family work (or not). Family life isn’t easy at times as it is but when you stir in all these other layers from a career in professional football, life off the field becomes incredibly complex for most families. Watch as Brandi Winans (formerly married to the recently departed Jeff Winans – Bills, Saints, Buccaneers, Raiders 1973 – 1980; Jeff played with teammates Dave Pear and Gene Upshaw on the winning Super Bowl XV Raiders in 1980) and John Houser (LA Rams, Cowboys, Cardinals 1957 – 1963) share personal stories of family survival with the audience of their very different lives after football. . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
. Our good friend, Jennifer Thibeaux, (who can never be acknowledged enough for all of her advocacy work on behalf of retired players and who has managed to help us film each of our three Conferences so we can share them with the community at large) had declined our invitation to be up on stage with Brandi and John. But as she worked through the post-Conference task of editing and uploading all of this footage, her thoughts kept taking her back to her personal family experiences of having lived through the football life. Late last night, I received a personal message from Jennifer about how this has affected her own family and why she continues to help us get the message out to the other families in particular and to the fans in general. . Here’s Jennifer’s message along with her audio comments: . Robert, . I took some time and collected my thoughts about my football experiences. This is by no means the end of my sharing…but it is my way to begin the process of getting it out of my head and into the universe properly. I have tried to characterize my own experiences so that I could give it the proper brand. The best I can come up with is, “Indefinite Hell“. While I was designing new bling tees for my Tee business, I was compelled to design this brand into a Tee (below – click image to enlarge). . . Has an interesting meaning both verbally and visually. After I made the tee, it was officially time to speak. I hope you can share these beginning thoughts with the DavePear.com family – my family – as we fight for human rights and against injustices..Love you all with every ounce of my being …and I’m in this to win. . Jennifer .
. Click the PLAY button to listen to Jennifer’s personal commentary (13 minutes). .
The 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is going into its third year. How has it worked out for you and your families? How will some of the most recent disability rulings affect future cases? And just how did that Legacy Fund work out for each of you? John Hogan has been advocating for a total reform of the current NFL/NFLPA Disability Plan and has been successful in many of his cases representing retired NFL players in their Disability and Social Security Disability cases. In this session, John discusses some of the most recent cases and their impact on all retired players. We were hoping to have Jimmie Giles join John on stage but his health and upcoming surgeries kept him at home. John discusses some of the strange details of how the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan and its Board actually runs under the dominant hand of The Groom Law Group with absolutely no checks and balances nor oversight from a so-called Board. If you have never had to apply for disability benefits from the NFL, this discussion is an eye-opener. And if you’ve applied for benefits, most of this information will sound eerily familiar. (You can read all Panelist biographies by clickingHERE.) . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
Yakub Hazzard from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi spent over an hour explaining and answering questions about basic visual rights, how they work and what others can – and can’t – do with them. This is the basic primer that neither the NFL nor the NFLPA nor your agent EVER wanted football players to understand.(You can read all biographies by clickingHERE.) . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
. EDITOR’S NOTE – MAY 8 2013: We just uploaded Yakub’s slideshow so you can follow along with the video. You can view each slideshow full screen by clicking on the FullScreen icon in the lower right corner of each slide screen (press ESC to close the slideshow). .
Dr. Bennet Omalu was the first pathologist to uncover the presence of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in the brains of retired football players. It all started when Mike Webster’s body ended up on his examination table in Pittsburgh in 2002. As assistant coroner in Pittsburgh at the time, Dr. Omalu sought permission to examine Webster’s brain. In the years following, several more retired football players bodies arrived in their morgue including Andree Waters. Since then, Dr. Omalu has become the chief coroner in San Joaquin and has continued his work on CTE and advancing the study of brain trauma in society in general and football in particular. The NFL has been trying to discredit Dr. Omalu for over 10 years. Dr. Omalu is probably on the NFL’s Top 10 Most Hated List with the NFL. You can read his biography by clicking HERE. . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
We kicked off the first day of our Conference with a great overview of the concussion lawsuits with two of the top attorneys in this litigation: Jason Luckasevic from Goldberg Persky White filed the first lawsuit against the NFL and was also to include Riddell in his filings. One of their two partners in the suits was Tom Girardi of Girardi & Keese (they were joined by Russomanno and Borrello, P.A.). (You can read all biographies by clicking HERE.) This was an incredible hour+ to kick off what’s shaping up to be our best Conference yet. You’ll understand the reasons why so many of the retired players have chosen to sign up with these firms to represent them. . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
With last-minute itinerary changes and arrivals, we’ve been juggling our Conference schedule to accommodate everything. And we’ve also made some minor additions to our schedule as well in order to cover some very recent events that we believe most of the retired player community will want to hear about. . Here’s a list of our Panelists with biographies: . Dr. Bennet Omalu . Dr. Omalu received his MB, BS [M.D.] degree from the University of Nigeria in 1991. He received his MPH [Masters in Public Health] degree in Epidemiology from University of Pittsburgh in 2004. He also received his MBA [Masters in Business Administration] degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. Dr. Omalu holds four board certifications in Anatomic Pathology, Clinical Pathology, Forensic Pathology and Neuropathology. Dr. Omalu is also board certified in Medical Management and is a Certified Physician Executive [CPE]. .continue reading »
Wow! A lot has happened in the past week as we’ve been preparing for our upcoming Conference! We’re edging closer to the vote on AB 1309 in California which will disqualify most professional athletes from Workers Compensation claims in the state.(ClickHEREto read the actual bill that’s coming up for a vote as early as next week.) . More news is coming out about Riddell’s prior knowledge about helmet safety and real their lack of protection from concussions.(ClickHEREto read the latest piece from PBS Frontline.) . And the behind-the-scenes story is also now emerging about the fight for Junior Seau’s brain after he committed suicide.(ClickHEREto read that article also on PBS Frontline.) . Then we have the NFL Alumni pushing a wide press release about a new miracle drug that will not only be an antidepressant but also possibly heal your brain with new stem cells. Only problem is that this drug is from a relatively new company that’s only beginning early-stage trials that only require a few participants and not the thousands that the Alumni (NFL) seems to be wanting to enlist for some strange reason. Retired players will need all the information they can get if they’re to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate in this – or any drug trial – as we continue to move forward with the concussion lawsuits. . And the NFL Films lawsuit will now be moving into the notification stage to all players involved in the class. We’ll be having representatives from both sides of the Settlement Offer to present their arguments on Saturday so you can make an informed decision. . We’ll be covering each of these new topics with experts from their fields at our IFV Conference. Watch for live posts and videos during the two days of discussions. And if you can make it down to Las Vegas, we can promise this will be the most informative two days that retired football players won’t want to miss. . Watch this Blog for more details. .
. 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 BusinessInsurance.com. . 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: . Mel 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. . George . 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 . Nolan, . 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. . Sincerely, 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!). .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend, Spencer Kopf, called in and was miffed to read an e-mail from Jeff Nixon that described the NFLPA’s great historical contributions to advancing the livelihood of its players. The story was just that: A story. The real history and events during the negotiations of the 1982 strike were well-documented and supported by many of the players who were actually there when it all went down. Here’s Spencer’s letter: . Dear Jeff, . I have been asked by the undersigned former players to address your most recent communication to the NFL Alumni. In your March 2, 2013 post, you wrote: .
“In 1982, our NFL Players Association demanded, among other things, that its members receive 55% of the league’s gross revenues. The owners told us to take a hike. So we did, and we didn’t return until seven regular-season games had been lost. The owners were forced to return $50 million to the networks. Although we were not successful in getting 55% of League revenues, we did accomplish some things that are still having a lasting impact on current players.” . If by “we” you mean the NFLPA itself, you could not be wider off the mark. The players of the past certainly deserve credit for accomplishments that have benefited players of the present. However, by juxtaposing “our NFL Players Association” with “we” you have created (perhaps unintentionally) a false sense of equivalence. If the history of the NFLPA has anything to teach us, it’s that the NFLPA has never acted as if it and its past constituents were one and the same. .continue reading »
. Our Third Annual Independent Football Vets Conference is set for May 3 – 5 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas! When you book your Conference weekend, please follow these steps: .
Book your room using the South Point Reservation link (clickHERE) or by calling them Toll Free at (866) 791-7626 and use Group Discount Code INDO0502;
Book your flight as soon as possible to get the best advance ticket rates;
Then sign in with that information on our Registration Page(clickHERE) so we can have your admission badges ready when you arrive (all retired players and families, panelists and invited media are welcome but you will need an admission badge to be admitted to all events).
Like the old saying goes, “Charity Begins at Home.” Americans are among the most generous people in the world. Recently, a list was published that actually listed some of the top nonprofits in America and the compensation that their respective CEO’s collected for leading those organizations. It was an eye-opener to see that the CEO’s of certain so-called nonprofits were paid in the millions annually, while others only collected token salaries more in line with their charitable missions. For example, the former head of the Boy Scouts of America was paid over $1 million while the COO of the American Cancer Society almost made $1 million last year. In contrast, the head of the Salvation Army took home a relatively paltry $130,000. . Here’s a snapshot from Charity Watch showing some of their Top 25 Nonprofit CEO Salaries: . . The top salary on this list from 2012 was $2 million+ to Peter Cordeiro who heads the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.You can view the rest of the chart by clicking HERE. . And how much closer to home than Roger Goodell and the NFL? It’s only becoming more widely known that the NFL operates as a 501 (c) 6 nonprofit, with all the special benefits that a nonprofit enjoys. And keep in mind that many years ago, they also received an antitrust exemption from Congress. .continue reading »
Our friend Patrick Hruby has been busy of late. Patrick spent some one-on-one time with George Visger a few weeks ago to pull together one of the most detailed stories of George’s life in the NFL and after the NFL. During the NFL’s (and the NFLPA’s) PR run to this year’s Super Bowl, we’ve done our best to show the other side of football: The REAL side of what happens to many of their older players of the past. George has been one of the best examples of everything that the League and the Union can do to a retired player after he leaves the game damaged. While the League can toss aside a lot of other players more easily, George has a lot going for AND against him: He played in Super Bowl XVI for the winning San Francisco 49ers (he only got the ring to show for it) and left the season with severe brain injuries as a direct (and documented) result of playing for the NFL. He qualified for California Workers Compensation (in fact, George was probably one of the first and more prominent football cases back in the early 80′s) even though they fought him for several years before he finally won his case. But once again on the NFL side – even though George proved his case to Workers Comp and recently to Social Security Disability – George will still never receive one penny of direct disability or pension benefits from the League because according to their ridiculous rules, he didn’t play long enough. As a pre-1993 retired player, George had to have played for four seasons to be fully vested (post-1993 players “only” need to have three seasons to be vested for benefits). . And on and on it goes. For better and for worse.continue reading »
First of all, best of luck to Deion Sanders, who is such a brilliant genius that he doesn’t expect any cognitive problems in his future. Good luck with the child support, hope you don’t tell your next wife about the divorce in a text message – all the best in your stellar career and perfect NFL life. .
Deion Sanders doubts NFL’s concussion problem, says former players are looking for payday