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 »
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 »
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
. 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 »
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the press announcement as released on behalf of the original plaintiffs in the Dryer vs NFL (Films) lawsuit following last Friday’s hearing in Federal Court in Fort Myers FL. Please note that the NFL’s press release last week was intentionally misleading in their implication that the Settlement was already concluded and accepted. This litigation is far from over as some would have you believe. Certain attorneys had already been counting their upfront $8 million bribe – er, payout – from the NFL. We have been informed by a lot of retired players that they’ve already fired the firm(s) who were (mis)representing them in the NFL (Films) lawsuit. And for those of you who have also not already switched to a more ethical firm to represent your best interests in your concussion lawsuit, you may wish to consider changing firms so they don’t throw you under the bus for ten pieces of silver there as well. . And now that the gag order is being officially lifted from the hearings, we will be opening a full dialog on this case and what it really means for all retired players as a group and not to any individual player in particular. This is going to be one of the important panel discussion topics at our upcoming Third Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference in Las Vegas May 3 – 5.Click HERE to read more and to sign up. .
“Original Dryer Plaintiffs” Oppose Proposed NFL Settlement in Retired Players’ Right of Publicity Lawsuit
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).
This is one of the best chronologies of the NFL’s history of denial on the long-term effects of brain injuries and concussions. While it only starts with 1992 following the death of Mike Webster, we’re hoping that The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates will research and develop an earlier timeline to show just how far back this coverup actually goes. .
EDITOR’S NOTE: A long piece well worth the read from Patrick Hruby detailing the long history of denials and worse on the part of the NCAA when it comes to concussions. Many of the retired players may still remember (or not!) how concussions were largely ignored when you played in college and how that culture followed you into the NFL. The parallels to the League’s history of denial is not surprising, right down to their current battles with insurers over litigation coverage. (Patrick did a lot of research for this piece. There are a lot of links within this article that are also well worth clicking and reading.)
Re-posted with permission from Patrick Hruby:
January 16, 2013
Ramogi Huma wasn’t asking for much. Just for a chance to speak. An opportunity to share a few commonsense ideas about how to make college football slightly safer and more humane for its on-field participants, the young men putting their brains and futures at risk, in part, so that credit card companies and fast food taco peddlers can more easily reach potential customers. . continue reading »
. The continuing flood of news coverage and studies has been relentless during this football season with no sign of letting up even as more retired players add their names to the growing list of concussion lawsuits. The results of Junior Seau’s brain study were finally released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) following months of speculation and rumors of a potential coverup following his suicide last May. We lead our latest concussion update post with the breaking ESPN report on the NIH study: . continue reading »
Here’s something a little lighter to start the week. . I was going through more of my old files and ran across my original signing contract with the Baltimore Colts back in 1975. My first NFL contract was for 3 years: 1975 for $30,000; 1976 for $40,000; 1977 for $50,000. They also included a $30,000 signing bonus (!) over 3 years ($20,000 upon signing in 1975 and an additional $5,000 in 1976 and in 1977). I was subsequently traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then Hugh Culverhouse traded me off to the Oakland Raiders in 1979 after I had the nerve to ask for a raise! I played for two years with a broken neck with the Raiders when we won Super Bowl XV as the wild card team against the Eagles (Raiders 27 – Eagles 10). I was released by Al Davis after that year (more like kicked to the curb!). And yes – that’s a Riddell Helmet I’m wearing in my Topps card! . Since then, my family has gone through over $600,000 of our own money for my ongoing football-related medical expenses and surgeries with absolutely no reimbursement from the NFL and its various plans (other than the equivalent of two seat cushions and a $5.00 co-pay they sent me after my first hip surgery as part of their fantastic hip replacement program- clickHEREto read about it.) . We uploaded a copy of my first NFL contract to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close): . Dave Pear 1975 Baltimore Colts Contract .
. Many of you may remember Andrew Stewart’s disability case that took nearly two years to get to court after it was first filed in 2010. They won the case resoundingly in June of this year, topped with a scathing ruling from Judge William Quarles who presided over the entire hearing. You may even recall the doctor the NFL called in to do a second opinion on Andrew’s injuries when they weren’t happy with the first doctor that they also chose. Without so much as seeing Andrew or reviewing his x-rays, he declared Andrew’s injuries to be totally unrelated to football. Then in the last paragraph, he reminds the Plan to send him another $500 check for his additional “review.”(You can read all of our earlier posts covering his case by clickingHERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.) FOX Sports A.J. Perez also covered the ruling in an article from June written right after the case closed: .
Another inside look at how the NFLPA functions at its core particularly when it comes to retired players: Bruce Laird spent many years alongside Sam Havrilak as officers of the local chapter for the NFLPA in Baltimore. And during many of those years, Bruce and his fellow alumni also ran Fourth and Goal, a nonprofit and advocacy group for retired players which managed to provide assistance to those players in need. Now that George Martin’s NFL Alumni has been marginalized, it seems that the NFLPA only recently noticed that Bruce and Sam have been running Fourth and Goal while also working within their Baltimore chapter! Hard to tell if the PA is trying to clean house now that the Alumni is gone or if they only just realized that Bruce and Sam have been voicing their opinions for years about the real plight of retired players. Perhaps Gene Upshaw stopped by to remind them… .continue reading »