Brain concussions. CTE. Alcohol and drugs. Take these issues that have only recently become more openly discussed along with 101 more ingredients in family life and you have a very complicated recipe for making a family work (or not). Family life isn’t easy at times as it is but when you stir in all these other layers from a career in professional football, life off the field becomes incredibly complex for most families. Watch as Brandi Winans (formerly married to the recently departed Jeff Winans – Bills, Saints, Buccaneers, Raiders 1973 – 1980; Jeff played with teammates Dave Pear and Gene Upshaw on the winning Super Bowl XV Raiders in 1980) and John Houser (LA Rams, Cowboys, Cardinals 1957 – 1963) share personal stories of family survival with the audience of their very different lives after football. . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
. Our good friend, Jennifer Thibeaux, (who can never be acknowledged enough for all of her advocacy work on behalf of retired players and who has managed to help us film each of our three Conferences so we can share them with the community at large) had declined our invitation to be up on stage with Brandi and John. But as she worked through the post-Conference task of editing and uploading all of this footage, her thoughts kept taking her back to her personal family experiences of having lived through the football life. Late last night, I received a personal message from Jennifer about how this has affected her own family and why she continues to help us get the message out to the other families in particular and to the fans in general. . Here’s Jennifer’s message along with her audio comments: . Robert, . I took some time and collected my thoughts about my football experiences. This is by no means the end of my sharing…but it is my way to begin the process of getting it out of my head and into the universe properly. I have tried to characterize my own experiences so that I could give it the proper brand. The best I can come up with is, “Indefinite Hell“. While I was designing new bling tees for my Tee business, I was compelled to design this brand into a Tee (below – click image to enlarge). . . Has an interesting meaning both verbally and visually. After I made the tee, it was officially time to speak. I hope you can share these beginning thoughts with the DavePear.com family – my family – as we fight for human rights and against injustices..Love you all with every ounce of my being …and I’m in this to win. . Jennifer .
. Click the PLAY button to listen to Jennifer’s personal commentary (13 minutes). .
The 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is going into its third year. How has it worked out for you and your families? How will some of the most recent disability rulings affect future cases? And just how did that Legacy Fund work out for each of you? John Hogan has been advocating for a total reform of the current NFL/NFLPA Disability Plan and has been successful in many of his cases representing retired NFL players in their Disability and Social Security Disability cases. In this session, John discusses some of the most recent cases and their impact on all retired players. We were hoping to have Jimmie Giles join John on stage but his health and upcoming surgeries kept him at home. John discusses some of the strange details of how the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan and its Board actually runs under the dominant hand of The Groom Law Group with absolutely no checks and balances nor oversight from a so-called Board. If you have never had to apply for disability benefits from the NFL, this discussion is an eye-opener. And if you’ve applied for benefits, most of this information will sound eerily familiar. (You can read all Panelist biographies by clickingHERE.) . YouTube Hints: You can enlarge the video to Full Screen mode simply by clicking on that Full Screen icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. You can also watch videos in HD (if available) by clicking that gear icon in the lower right and then selecting the highest resolution available. And each YouTube video can actually be paused or stopped at any point and you can also jump to any spot where you may have left earlier so there’s no need to watch through an entire video. .
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 »
. 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!). .
First of all, best of luck to Deion Sanders, who is such a brilliant genius that he doesn’t expect any cognitive problems in his future. Good luck with the child support, hope you don’t tell your next wife about the divorce in a text message – all the best in your stellar career and perfect NFL life. .
Deion Sanders doubts NFL’s concussion problem, says former players are looking for payday
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:Fourth & Goal’s Bruce Laird sent in his comments and observations after reading the recent ESPN article from last Friday, Mixed Messages on Brain Injuries.(Click HERE to read the post that includes a link to the article.)Bruce and Sam Havrilak were also unceremoniously kicked out of the Baltimore chapter of the NFLPA for their outspoken and proactive activities for retired players. Here are some comments and observations from Bruce:
Here are the most recently finalized briefs submitted for filing this week. They were written in response to the latest series of motions made by both the NFL and Riddell in the collective concussion lawsuits filed over this past year against the NFL and Riddell. . We uploaded copies of three briefs 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). . Brief in Opposition to Riddell Motion to Dismiss LMRA 301 Preemption .continue reading »
This breaking story was just too good not to post and follow. As many of us already know, the NFL and its owners have taken advantage of any and every opportunity to rake in the money. Whether it’s by not paying people (from denying retired players their earned benefits to all of their Super Bowl half-time acts to perform for free) or just good old-fashioned tax evasion, they continue to exploit every single loophole to make sure not one dollar goes to anyone else. So it was no shock to see this detailed article on the recent disclosure that the NFL is… A CHARITY! An official nonprofit charity actually written into Federal Law that makes them completely exempt from Federal taxes! Are we even surprised? .continue reading »
A short note to go along with this letter we just received from Gordon Wright (Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets1967 – 1970) early this morning. Gordon’s attorneys have written a letter to the NFLPA requesting all information on Gordon’s career in the NFL. Over the years, the Eagles seem to have lost any record of Gordon’s 1968 season. Maybe this is one for the IRS and a look at the Eagles bank records? Are there any old teammates from the Eagles out there who may have played with Gordon in 1968? (We posted more details about Gordon’s situation back in 2010 and still nothing two years later – not even any clarification. Read that 2010 post by clickingHERE. . EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve uploaded of Gordon’s letter 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): . Gordon Wright Letter to NFLPA .
Last Friday, the NFLPA wrote a sanctimonious letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding their indignation over the League’s use of replacement referees in this new season. The NFLPA has continued to whittle away at retirees’ benefits and rights with each passing agreement all while trying to point out what a great job they did for retirees – and let’s not forget overlooking the widows – in the new CBA. Their hypocrisy deserves a cynical and sarcastic response for all the Union’s whining after the CBA was signed (and let’s not forget that DeMaurice Smith was bragging about what a terrific deal he had cut right after it was signed last year; it earned him a new multimillion dollar contract and bonus). . So we’ve reproduced the NFLPA’s letter below (on the left) and written a similar letter back to him – and the NFL – on behalf of retired players (on the right). Enjoy!Click on each image to enlarge for easier reading and printing. . . . .
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. .