In their recent all-but-done NFL Films Settlement Offer, the NFL flashed another possible “benefit” that most players will probably never see or access in their collective lifetimes. The majority of retired players have yet to receive any real benefits from all those slick PR benefits programs offered in the past – why would one more program simply intended to avoid paying any real money to the players be different with this new deal? As part of the ongoing negotiations, perhaps Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith – along with all of their staff at the NFL and the NFLPA – should be asked to switch over their entire medical and retirement benefits to programs exactly like that offered to the men who made their jobs possible. What do you think they’d say about that? If their offer was such a good deal why wouldn’t they take the same benefits over 8 years? . In one more typical example of life after football, we’re posting another slideshow of what happens to all too many players after they leave the game: Dave went in for his 15th (or was it his 16th?) surgery yesterday. This time it was to widen his spinal canal in a procedure that uses new laser technology. None of this is covered by any NFL disability or healthcare plans – nor has it ever been covered in the past. Just one more work-related injury that my former employer, the NFL, won’t pay for. . We have a full-color gallery of shots taken before and during the entire operation. (WARNING: Not for the squeamish!) Dr. Mark Freeborn along with his entire team and the staff at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland are to be commended for an overall great surgical experience for Dave and Heidi! Dave made it home yesterday afternoon and is looking at a two-week recovery now. .
. You can scroll through the pictures by clicking on the left- and right- arrows on the sides of each picture or you can select slideshow at the bottom. .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave has still been included in this ongoing local (Seattle) e-mail chain from yesterday as he’s still a dues-paying member of the NFLPA. We’re posting these four latest e-mail exchanges here in unedited format for viewing and we’re also posting a separate rebuttal in a second post (click HERE). .
. From: Harrison, Nolan [mailto:Nolan.HarrisonIII@nflplayers.com] Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:35 PM Subject: RE: Former Player’s Benefit Increase? .
There will be an official benefits statement coming from both parties. A couple of things that were accidentally left out of the CBA summary (sorry, everyone is rushing to meet the memberships demand for information) was the improvements to Plan 88 more on workers comp and long term care. . continue reading »
. EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday afternoon, NFLPA Disability Board Representative Sam McCullum wrote back to disability attorney John Hogan as part of our heated discussion on retired players’ Disability Benefits and their rights under ERISA law. (Click HERE to go back to that earlier post and be sure to read all the comments that are still coming in on that post.) We’re posting both of their letters here to continue an open review of how disability decisions are currently being made for retired players and how ERISA guidelines are not being applied. This is a must-read for any of you who have applied or plan on applying for your earned Disability Benefits. .
And before a few of you go off on us again for bringing the ghost of Gene Upshaw back into this fray, this is a direct reference to his original quote from an interview with The Washington Post’s Micheal Leahy in 2008. All too many retired players (even the late Johnny Unitas) lost their benefits because of this long-standing misinterpretation of the law. And that, my friends, is NOT bitterness – it’s reciting History. Those who do not follow or understand History are bound to make the same mistakes over and over again. .
When I played football for the University of Washington Huskies and then went into the NFL first through the Baltimore Colts, on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and eventually with the Raiders, we all wore Riddell helmets. Little did I know that Riddell was an official paying sponsor of the NFL and was the supplier of choice for each of the teams for many years. This relationship made a lot of money for Riddell because kids playing Pee Wee, high school and college football were led to believe that Riddell was the best protection money could buy. And why not? All their heroes in the NFL were wearing them. .
Here’s one of my Topp Raiders cards with that older 70′s helmet – definitely not close to anything like the young players have today. (And the older guys from the 50′s and 60′s played with those leather “helmets”!) We were all coached to use our heads and helmets as part of our play and most of the older players still talk about stingers and having their bells rung several times in every game. And the League even went so far as to create their MTBI (MILD Traumatic Brain Injury) Committee headed for years by their own appointed Dr. No: Dr. Ira Casson who continued to spew their propaganda all the way up to Congress as recently as a couple of years ago. .
Our friend, George Visger, played for two years with the 49ers, ending his short career with a Super Bowl ring and 9 subsequent, life-changing brain surgeries that followed. And no disability or pension benefits because he only played for two years so he didn’t even meet the Disability Plan’s 4-year hurdle that all pre-93 players needed to qualify! Do you think his helmet was good protection? . Bowing to heavy pressure in recent years, the League has been making changes to the rules to protect its players from the effects of concussions. They also fired Dr. No and replaced him with a real expert and advocate in the field: Dr. Rich Ellenbogen. But what about all those decades of denial while continuing to misinform its employees with fake studies? And they did that while also sending a false sense of security to school and college players making it all look and sound eerily like the long era when the tobacco industry was telling the public that cigarette smoking was harmless. .
And that is why Heidi and I decided to join a lawsuit that holds the League and Riddell responsible for hiding and perpetuating the long-term damages from concussions. The suit was officially filed this week and we’ve just uploaded a full copy to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it downloadable for printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the center of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close): . Full Concussion and Helmet Lawsuit Filing Aug 3 2011 . NOTE: I’m not a lawyer and I am not here to solicit your business. But if you want more information, my contact person on this lawsuit is: .
Jason Luckasevic Goldberg, Persky & White
1030 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (412) 338-9460 – direct .
As retired football players, we’re all sick and tired of everyone trying to tell us what’s best while not giving us a voice or a vote in how it’s done. With the CBA close to being finalized, the so-called Union, the NFLPA, is once again trying to walk away with our retirement and disability benefits as an afterthought to what they’ve negotiated for their active players. And with the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies coming up, a large group of Hall of Famers have signed a Retired Football Players Declaration of Independence (click on any images below to enlarge for easier reading and printing): . . We’re asking all retired players to read and sign on as well – I have already (PLEASE pass this along to all the other players you know): . .
And if you know retired players who don’t have Internet access or e-mail, you can also download a copy of the Declaration by right-clicking HERE and saving the PDF version that you can then print out and distribute to fax in or send by snail-mail. Thanks for all your support! .
A quick update from Shannon Jordan on Gordon and Dora Wright in Florida: . Thank you to Joe Muley, Keith Ledford and Greg Deardorff at Carrier Enterprises for donating the HVAC unit. Thank you to George at Frank Gay Plumbing for installing and thank you to Kevin Worthy on our Gridiron Greats team for getting us in contact with Carrier. We were able to get this new unit for Gordon and Dora in less than a week after waiting for a full year! Attached is a video from Dora Wright getting her unit installed right now.
God Bless you all! . Shannon Jordan
President Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund
(847) 509-3086 office . Dora used her cell phone to show their old air conditioner being removed and the new one being installed by the good folks at Frank Gay Plumbing from Orlando. We wish it was this easy to change things out at the NFL and the NFLPA! .
We haven’t been posting as much the past couple of weeks (Thanks for picking up the slack, Evan!) because we’ve been getting things ready for our upcoming Conference later this month at The South Point in Las Vegas. If you haven’t signed up yet, time’s running out to book your trip.
First Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference
We’re finally ready to announce our new nonprofit as well as our First Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference! We’ll be meeting in Las Vegas at the South Point Resort & Casino March 24 – 27, 2011.This Conference will provide an open platform for retired players to attend and participate in discussions on important topics ranging from benefits to the latest information on brain health and concussions, as well as social events that will allow our attendees to catch up on the old days.
. BY EVAN WEINER .
For New York Giants backers, this Sunday’s contest against the Washington Redskins could be the team’s final game for a long, long time. The National Football League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement ends on March 3 and should the owners and players not reach an agreement, the NFL’s off-season will be silent except for the annual draft which will take place as scheduled. .
There will be no free agency, no mini-camps, no organized team activities, no overlooked-in-the-draft college kids signing up with teams and no training camp until the owners and players reach an accord. Meanwhile the players will challenge the legitimacy of the owners’ war chest, which is being stuffed with money from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (FOX), General Electric’s NBC, Summer Redstone’s CBS, Disney’s ESPN and DirecTV. The players filed a complaint to Special Master of the National Football League Stephen Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor. Burbank was appointed by a federal court in 2002 to handle disputes between the owners and players. .
The players could decertify the association, which means that the NFLPA could go to court and ask for an injunction to end the lockout. The argument would be that the players are independent contractors and not part of the association. The owners plan to end players’ benefits as soon as the lockout starts. .
The dispute comes down to money. The NFL owners want to cut back revenues given to the players from 59 to 48 percent and cut salaries by 18 percent. But there are some other issues such as pensions and health benefits. Health benefits should emerge as a major issue, but it hasn’t. .
Week after week, National Football League players are getting hurt in alarming numbers. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers, who was cleared to play against the Giants last Sunday, has had two concussions this year. A concussion is a brain injury. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie is done for the season after getting his “bell rung” again. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is on the field because 2010 Eagles starting quarterback Kevin Kolb went down with a head injury. .
If there is a fortunate part of all the head injuries that have occurred is that the NFL is somewhat more diligent in taking care of head injuries than the League was saying back in 1980. The League is now urging players who have suffered head injuries to come forward and if a teammate notices something awry with a player he suspects has suffered a head injury to speak up. .
But football players, being tough, macho guys who succumb to peer pressure get on the field as soon as they are “well enough” to perform. .
Football players have “sucked it up” since the game was invented and suffered life changing injuries as a result of their actions on the field. A lot of NFL players are now getting government assistance through Social Security Disability and Medicare because they have pre-existing conditions and cannot get health benefits. The issue of our government taking care of discarded players is something that the news media has ignored for reasons known only to those who decide what “news” to cover.
Slowly but surely, Congress is getting their heads and hands wrapped around the issue of concussions and their long-term damage. On Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, Congressman George Miller (D-CA) held a House Education and Labor Committee hearing to begin to work out legislation to address the issue of concussions in school athletic programs. Did we even know that an estimated 400,000 concussions happened in high school sports just in the years 2005 – 2008 alone?
With all the recent coverage on drugs in the NFL – both “legal” and illegal – I’ve been getting a lot of media inquiries coming in about my personal experiences from playing back in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Like a lot of things from the past, many have now come to roost as part of NFL culture today. Painkillers and Novocaine shots were accepted treatments in the locker rooms of my day and it’s a small wonder that the young players today seem to feel that they’re expected to do whatever it takes to make themselves worth those big salaries they get from the NFL. You reap what you sow and the steroid problem is at least as much a consequence of the NFL’s drug culture over the decades as it is the product of the competitiveness among today’s players themselves. What did they think would happen?