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. .
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!). .
. 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 »
. 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).
We just received a copy of the NFL Neuro-Cognitive Benefit application form. Attorney John Hogan had discussed some of the issues and problems with this plan at our 2012 Independent Football Players Conference last April (we’ve attached his video to the bottom of this post). John’s early observations on the new Plan and programs are in the first half of his discussion. . NOTE: Be sure to look at Pages 2, 4 and 5 in this application. Here’s a clip from Page 2(click to enlarge for easier viewing): . . You can read our earlier post that includes an outline of the new Planby clickingHERE.
And a fresh observation from disability attorney John Hogan: . I now have an additional comment or two: If you seek the counsel of an attorney regarding this and he or she thinks you fully understand it, and they recommend you sign it, please send me their name and address so I might look into a legal malpractice claim! Assuming a guy might be eligible for this benefit, I would want the medical opinion of a Board-certified mental health professional indicating that the guy understands it! If you don’t seek the opinion of an attorney, and sign it, and qualify for the benefit because you have a significant cognitive impairment, I would think you could later assert that you did not have the required mental capacity to knowingly and intelligently waiving your right to sue for other benefits. . Also, will the examination they send you to evaluate whether they think you understand the waiver of rights? (Another possible malpractice action – or even a crime: A doctor giving legal advice or a lawyer giving medical advice?) This is all rather incredible to me. . We uploaded a copy of this Application to Scribd for easy viewing on our Blog 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): .continue reading »
. In one of the most public displays of just how far the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan and its overpaid NFL lawyers will go after a retired player during the process to access his earned disability benefits, US District Court Judge Ellen Hollander (District of Maryland) submitted her final 39-page ruling that very clearly details the many violations and fuzzy interpretations that the Plan and its lawyers have used over the years. Jimmie Giles (1977 – 1989: Oilers, Buccaneers, Lions, Eagles) had originally been awarded his Inactive Total & Permanent benefits (now called Inactive B) and the Plan and the NFL’s lawyers chose to aggressively deny his claim for Football Degenerative Total & Permanent benefits (now called Inactive A – got that?), leading to disability attorney John Hogan’s appeal on Jimmie’s behalf. The NFL’s law firm, Groom Law Group, publicly displayed some of the most egregious abuses of power and personal attacks on behalf of the Plan – all in their normal course of business-as-usual. At one point, they even tried to use the fact that Jimmie was “overweight” and it was pointed out to them that Jimmie’s teams had certainly never considered him overweight in his position as a tight end during his entire career! The Plan had been amended a few years ago to automatically accept an applicant’s Social Security designation as being Disabled, yet they continued to question and argue Jimmie’s actual “disability” going so far as to declare him still able to do “sedentary work” – as was also the case in Dave’s (and many others’) disability applications over the years. And their own Plan (the lawyers’) Questionnaire to their “neutral doctors” also continues to ask if a player was totally disabled as the Judge noted in her ruling. . It’s been a long wait for Jimmie and his family as they struggled to make ends meet during this drawn-out appeals process that dragged on through the summer after a lockout, a new CBA and everything else that went by over the past two years. But Judge Hollander appears to have taken a very thorough approach to address each of the arguments posed against Jimmie’s already well-documented case. (We uploaded a copy of this final ruling below as soon as it was available.) . One interesting observation: Jimmie Giles’ so-called Union, the NFLPA, has been nowhere to be seen at any time during Jimmie’s entire application process. No offers of assistance – legal or financial – during what has probably been the most difficult period of his life. In fact, the three alleged “retired players representatives” on the Disability Board had to have voted unanimously against Jimmie’s claim in lockstep with the three owners’ representatives in order for this case to drag out this far. Why has each member of the Board never been held accountable or sued for their ill-informed rulings? Would any AFL/CIO retiree in a REAL Union ever expect to be subjected to such an abuse of employees’ rights? . The ruling is posted on 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): . Jimmie Giles vs Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan Final Ruling .
Some bits-and-pieces of information that have come in, starting with an interesting observation from disability attorney John Hogan (if anyone has heard anything about these reps on disability improvements, please feel free to let us know): . Article 61, Sec. 5 of the new CBA, which became effective over a year ago, provided for “further disability improvements” and that each side would appoint representatives not later than October 31, 2011 to consider these further improvements. I have no idea who was appointed and I have no idea if they have even met. Perhaps more importantly, no one we know has heard from ANY retired player who might have been consulted on what further improvements are needed. .
======================================== . At Sean Pamphilon’s movie preview in Pittsburgh last week, Dave also had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Leonard Marshall (1983 – 1994: New York Giants, New York Jets, Washington Redskins). Leonard’s book When the Cheering Stops: Bill Parcells, the 1990 New York Giants, and the Price of Greatness (co-authored with journalist William Bendetson) was released this past spring and provides a unique inside view of football from his days on the field interwoven with intimate stories about life after the game off the field. Here are two of Leonard’s interviews from last spring: .
A year later, we’re still learning more about the Legacy Fund every day and most of it isn’t coming from the NFL or the NFLPA. Disability Attorney John Hogan recently came across the one retired player receiving disability benefits who actually also qualified for some Legacy Benefits. Will wonders never cease? We’re passing along John’s observations to keep retirees informed. . Also attached is a copy of another document that Dave received last week actually detailing the ins-and-outs of adding Medicare Prescription Benefits. Seems they’re better at communicating how to get on the government dole than sending better instructions for navigating their own benefits system and process. Unbelievable! . Here’s John Hogan’s latest information on the Legacy Fund first: . A lot of guys on NFL disability have been asking questions about whether they’re entitled to receive any additional benefit from the Legacy Fund. The simple answer appears to be that most will not. Unless a player had a long career AND the amount of his benefit credits PLUS the Legacy Fund benefits is greater than the monthly amount he receives on disability, will that player get an increase. The only case where I have seen this happen is where the player is on the lowest-paying classification of Total and Permanent Disability – formerly known as “Inactive” – and has had his benefit permanently reduced by 25% for taking a one-time early pension draw AND if that player had a lengthy career (i.e. – 12 years in one case). . Also, if the Legacy Benefit calculation comes to more than the amount of the monthly disability benefit, the player will only receive the additional difference – the total Legacy Benefit is not paid IN ADDITION TO the disability benefit. . And here’s a copy of the NFL’s instruction sheet on Medicare Prescription Plan.We’ve uploaded this 6-pager to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it downloadable for 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): . NFL on Medicare & SSI .
Here’s the broadcast on Disability Issues from our Independent Football Veterans Conference this past April in Las Vegas at the South Point. This is definitely the other topic that generates the most questions from retired players. . Disability attorney and retired player advocate John Hogan has been in practice for 35 years after also having worked inside the Social Security system. In this 54-minute open panel discussion, John discusses a wide range of topics regarding covering disability benefits, your rights, Social Security Disability, as well as the serious flaws within the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan. . Dave joins John as a typical example of what most retired players have encountered in their battle to get access to their earned benefits that the NFL and NFLPA continue to deny. . There are a lot of questions from retired players. .
We’re all for great customer service and constructive feedback but if a survey’s not going to accomplish anything, why bother? Last week, Dave received this request to participate in a new survey from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan Office in Baltimore: . Dear NFL Player, . In hopes of learning more about your experience with the Plan Office in Baltimore, we are conducting a brief survey. Your responses will help us determine areas the Plan Office in Baltimore has shown exceptional service as well as areas where there is room for improvement. We encourage you to click on the link below and provide candid feedback on the questions asked. The survey should only take 5 – 10 minutes to complete, and your responses will be greatly valued. The survey opens today, and will remain open for until the end of next week, closing Friday, July 6th at 5PM PST. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact our survey administrator (information provided below) .continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: Now that some of the dust has settled from the fallout of George Martin’s 2-year tenure as Executive Director of the NFL Alumni, there are a lot of questions still left unanswered. Attorney John Hogan was an active advocate from the earliest stages of what started with the best of intentions. We’re also going ahead with including John Hogan and Dave’s discussion on Disability from the recent IFV Conference held in April in Vegas. The video is at the bottom of this post.
An Open Letter to the NFL and Retired Players Regarding the Alumni
Thanks to our friend, Jennifer Thibeaux, we have a great collection of photographs from our well-attended Second Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference held April 20 – 22 2012 at The South Point Resort in Las Vegas. Videos and PowerPoints to follow shortly! .
Here’s the slideshow from flickr (there’s an enlarge button in the lower right hand corner of the slideshow screen if you want to view our slideshow fullscreen; just hit ESC to close fullscreen mode): .
With so many areas to cover this year at our Second Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference, we’ve adopted a broadcast format and assembled discussion panels with audience participation instead of individual speakers for the most part. Each panel will be broadcast as a separate topic covering the most important issues and questions retired players want to know. . Each panelist will be given an opportunity to talk approximately 5 – 10 minutes about their particular areas of expertise and interest after which 30 – 45 minutes will then be devoted to general discussions and questions from our studio audience and our online viewers. For a list of our panelists and speakers,clickHERE. We’ll be posting our Panelists’ Bios shortly. . All retired players welcome to participate in this live event but be sure to register for your entry pass today -clickHERE – and book you flight and room(s) at the South Point as soon as possible! The Conference is open to all retired football players by simply registering to attend. Media and other guests are limited and by invitation only –clickHEREto contact us. .
Each panelist will be given an opportunity to talk for approximately 5 – 10 minutes about their particular areas of expertise and interest, after which 30 – 45 minutes will then be devoted to general discussions and questions from our studio audience and our online viewers. For a list of our panelists and speakers, clickHERE. We’ll be posting our Panelists’ Bios shortly. .