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). .
As we were planning our Conference over the last few weeks leading up to this past weekend, we had many discussions on the best way to present both sides of the Settlement Offer to the retired football player community so each one of you can make an informed decision. We finally decided to invite each attorney who made the final presentations in Federal Court to Judge Magnuson in Minnesota: attorney Dan Gustafson from the firm Gustafson Gluek PLLC accepted on behalf of the players whose names were listed in the Settlement Offer (you can review a copy of that offer by clicking HERE) and attorney Michael Ciresi of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi accepted on behalf of the original six plaintiffs. Of the six original plaintiffs, five of them managed to show up for the Conference. Ron Mix graciously accepted to present his reasons for accepting the offer while Fred Dryer – the original named plaintiff in Dryer vs NFL Films – joined Mike Ciresi to present their opposing position. . Unfortunately, by late Friday, we received confirmation that attorney Dan Gustafson would not be attending because of a family matter and no replacement would be sent to replace him, leaving Ron Mix to make the case for accepting the Settlement as well as answering questions from the audience. This Settlement Offer has been promoted as the best deal retired players can expect from the NFL while also declaring that only a very tiny but vocal minority of retirees were opposed to it. Quite frankly, we were surprised that those parties with their overwhelming majority didn’t manage to find one single replacement for attorney Gustafson to present their claim of a done deal. Ron Mix managed to maintain a dignified and professional approach in explaining many of the still-unanswered details of this 160+ page Settlement Offer while plaintiffs’ attorney Mike Ciresi and Fred Dryer each made their presentations of opposing what they believed to be a very one-sided and typically worthless Offer which included punitive expenses to be taken out of the Offer to fight those who would oppose it. While many in the audience vented their anger and frustration with the Offer towards Ron Mix personally, we truly believe that Ron sincerely felt that this was the best deal possible from a pragmatic point of view and as such, we need to respect Ron for being there to present his opinions in a very dignified manner. Our reasoning is that even with all their resources, no one else was sent to back Ron up was perhaps a way to damage Ron’s standing with retired players as a strong advocate for Workers Compensation rights, specifically in the State of California. Ron has successfully fought for Workers Comp benefits over many years for hundreds of professional athletes and now continues to personally carry on the battle to oppose California Bill AB 1309 which will eliminate Workers Comp claims for professional athletes in California. The League certainly benefits by eliminating these claims and damaging Ron’s standing in the retiree community would certainly be a side benefit of leaving him to defend their Settlement Offer on his own this past weekend. . We’ve decided to agree to disagree with Ron on a personal level while still holding him in high regard for his years of dedication in fighting for your Workers Compensation rights and benefits. As you will also see during this often-heated two+ hour discussion/debate, contrary to what the true minority who are attempting to paint the rest of you as a a loud minority, there didn’t seem to be anyone in the audience who supported the Settlement Agreement. Because of the length of this final discussion, we’ve decide to break it up into three separate videos beginning with Ron Mix on behalf of the group supporting the Settlement. Next, we’ll have attorney Michael Ciresi posing his legal position on why the Settlement Offer is clearly not even close to a good deal. Then last – but certainly not least – we’ll have Fred Dryer giving a very passionate point of view on why he’s personally opposed to the NFL’s final best offer, both from a retired football player’s perspective as well as from his very unique position as a Hollywood actor and producer who continues to receive royalties for his work.(Once again, you can read all Panelist biographies by clickingHERE.)
. We’re going to remind all retired players that the NFL’s standard play has always been divide-and-conquer. By putting Ron out there alone on the front line at the last minute to defend their Offer, they can accomplish two things: Continue their failing attempts to show that their Offer is supported by a so-called “majority” of retirees and is being defended by one of your own. And at the same time, they can alienate Ron with retired players so they can damage his long years of work on behalf of retired players’ Workers Compensation benefits, as well as his current efforts to stop California’s Bill AB 1309. They get to kill two birds with one stone. We hope you’ll keep all this in mind when you make your own decision in the NFL Films lawsuit and don’t hold it against Ron for his personal opinion on this single issue. The fact that even with all their resources, neither the NFL nor Hausfeld nor Zimmerman nor Gustafson managed to send a legal spokesperson to argue their case with retired players in an open forum should speak volumes and give you more to think about. . 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: We just uploaded a copy of the slide deck that Dan Gustafson sent to Ron Mix for presentation to attendees at our Conference. Ron arrived with a FedEx package of printed copies and we managed to scan it in time to put up on the screen for easier viewing and for posterity. You can view this slideshow full screen by clicking on the FullScreen icon in the lower right corner of each slide screen (press ESC to close the slideshow). . continue reading »
We wrapped Friday up with a discussion on Workers Compensation. Workmans Comp may be in for some serious changes shortly with Bill AB 1309 coming up for a vote in the California State capitol later this year. This bill will block professional athletes from filing Workers Compensation claims in the State of California and each of us needs to let your local representatives know that you disapprove of this bill. Many who have been navigating the system for a few years with their applications have already found their pending cases suspended while awaiting the vote. Workers Comp attorney Ron Mix (Chargers & Raiders 1960 – 1971) and George Visger (49ers 1980 – 1981) have been outspoken advocates lobbying against this Bill in Sacramento and discuss the details of what the legislators are trying to do with one more benefit you were actually paying for out of your paychecks. (And in case there of some of you who are unaware, George has already gotten the short end of the stick from the NFL: Even though he’s a pre-’93 player with a Super Bowl ring (49ers in Super Bowl XVI), George doesn’t qualify for any disability benefits from the NFL. Why? Because he didn’t play four full seasons to qualify under the NFL’s Plan rules! . Don’t think these politicians are only going to target professional athletes – who do you think they’ll target next? Long distance truck drivers? Farm workers? And just how much does the NFL and its insurers think they’ll be saving by quietly supporting this bill? This bill will affect everyone. (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. .
In the past week, we’ve been flooded with a large-scale press campaign from the long-quiet NFL Alumni about a new drug trial that has an incredible range of claims ranging from antidepressant benefits to new brain stem cell generation. The problem we noticed was that this is a completely new drug in its earliest trial stages. In other words, it’s one more untested new drug in a large new flood of drugs that come into the marketplace on an almost daily basis. With all the players still joining the flood of concussion lawsuits, we decided to consult to some experts who have a background on conducting drug trials as well as with Jason Luckasevic (from Goldberg Persky & White) for some thoughts from a legal perspective. Dr. Xavier Figueroa and Jason Luckasevic rendered some thoughts that all retired players may want to consider before participating in ANY drug trial.(You can read all biographies 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. .
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. .
With all the chest-thumping going on out there, many of you may not know that my attorney, Jason Luckasevic, from Goldberg Persky & White was not only the first attorney to file a concussion lawsuit on behalf of retired NFL football players after several years of research and lobbying with his senior partners (all you need to do is check the dates on the suits that have been filed) but his litigation also included helmet manufacturer Riddell from the outset. Over the years, we’ve written about Riddell’s ongoing paid sponsorship to the NFL as “The Official Helmet of the NFL.” While their sponsorship was worth millions in revenue to the League, the illusion of helmet safety helped Riddell to dominate the helmet market in amateur sports from Pee Wee through high school and on to college football. You’ll also recall that Riddell has been in a court battle with their insurance carriers who have been quickly jumping ship in an effort to avoid the ensuing megamillion dollar settlements sure to follow a successful round of liability lawsuits. Wonder who’s going to have to pay this one?(Click HERE to read that earlier post.) . We have news from last week of an $11.5 million award out of Colorado in a suit initiated by the family of a young man brain damaged and partially paralyzed in a high school football game. Riddell was held responsible for $3.1 million of that award. . . April 14, 2013, 11:08 PM
Colo. court finds Riddell negligent in helmet suit
EDITOR’S NOTE April 16, 2013: As many of you may have noticed, the original audio we posted was cut short to around 49 minutes. We’ve just added the second portion of 23 minutes and now have the entire 1 hour-13 minute hearing in one file below. . For those of you who couldn’t make your way into a VERY crowded courtroom, we have an audio transcript of most of the arguments presented to US District Court Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia PA last Tuesday, April 9, 2013. Presenting on behalf of the Players/Plaintiffs is attorney David Frederick and presenting for the NFL is attorney Paul Clement. (Just click the PLAY arrow to start the 49-minute recording. You can also download a copy of the MP3 file for listening later simply by right-clicking ‘Download‘ under the player and saving a copy to your computer.) . It will be weeks – if not months – before Judge Brody makes a ruling on whether the lawsuits can proceed to the next stage or be dismissed. But based on what both sides presented in this key hearing and some of the judge’s remarks and questions, we think the players’ attorney hit it out of the park! . You can also read an overview of the hearing from Associated Press by clickingHERE. . Our 2013 IFV Conference Concussion Lawsuit Panel will bring everyone up to date on the latest developments in the suit and will be answering any questions our audience will have for them! You don’t want to miss it! Make your reservations today so you can get the best airfare and room rates before the discounts expire this Tuesday - click HERE! .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today, we’re announcing two more of our Concussion Lawsuit panelists. A reminder: There is NO attendance fee for retired players and their guests and approved media (and we still won’t be playing golf either!). But you have to book your travel arrangements NOW and register for your admission badges before rates go up. Links to signing up are at the end of this post. . By way of introduction, most retired players know that for decades, the NFL has not only been denying the connection between concussions and long-term brain damage but they went so far as to aggressively put up a campaign to not only discredit scientific papers by professionals like Dr. Omalu but they also funded their own phony MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Committee with co-chairs that included the infamous Ira Dr. No Casson. Then a couple of years ago, the NFL funded Sports Legacy Institute’s long-term study of CTE (after denying it) with a $1 million grant with the caveat that “But we won’t have complete studies for many years because no one can detect CTE in a live brain.” Of course, the game changer is that earlier this year, a new CAT scan technique was announced that could detect CTE in live subjects (Dr. Omalu will be addressing this at our Conference). But not to be outdone by the NFL throwing $30 million at the NIH after Junior Seau’s tragic suicide, the NFLPA announced a $100 MILLION grant for further brain studies at Harvard (all with money that could have gone to retired players, of course). With this kind of collusion, it’s small wonder that the NFL is doing another slow reverse to once again deny the link between concussions and long-term brain damage. Worse still, with all the flip-flops, the NFL is going to use a last-ditch effort in the courts to argue that this issue was covered under the current – and past – Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) and their fraud and coverups shouldn’t even be tried in a court of law in front of a judge and a jury! Yeah right – like long-term fraud and deception on your former employees are covered under a CBA! . Now it comes out that two of the people who recently did consulting work with one of the Philadelphia law firms involved with the NFL concussion litigation have also been working with the NFL. . Are any of you still convinced that the NFL has players’ best interests on their minds? (Well, maybe Deion Sanders and Herschel Walker…) .continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re completing our schedule for our upcoming Third Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference once again at the South Point Resort in Las Vegas next month May 3 – 5. We’re going to start posting announcements about our list of prominent panelists who will be flying in to speak and interact with our attendees. Today, we’re very excited to officially announce one of our Brain Injury panelists. As always, there is no attendance fee for retired players and their guests and approved media (and we won’t be playing golf either!). But you have to book your travel arrangements NOW and register for your admission badges before rates go up. Links to signing up are at the end of this post. . The term most used today in football brain injuries is CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. More and more of you retired players have been reading and hearing this term used in the concussion lawsuits and sports reporting as it continues to make its way into our daily conversations. For those of you still unfamiliar with the terms CTE and tau protein, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: . “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease, which can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. It has also been found in soldiers exposed to a blast or a concussive injury, in both cases resulting in characteristic degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Individuals with CTE may show symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, which generally appear years or many decades after the trauma. .continue reading »
. Here’s a more detailed overview of the Discussion Panels we’re planning out for our upcoming IFV Conference at the South Point Resort in Las Vegas May 3- 5. You really don’t want to miss this Conference – book your flight and hotel room today while the rates are still low and then register for your free admission passes by clickingHERE. . FOOTBALL: THE LONG-TERM IMPACT ON NFL FAMILIES . Our Football Family Panel will include retired players and their families in an open discussion on how football has affected your lives off the field. All too many players and their families have gone through divorces and financial difficulties after their football careers ended and only now are we beginning to realize the impact that concussion issues may have played. .continue reading »