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. .
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. .
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 »
Seriously. Most of our readers have no idea about some of the stuff that comes through to us while running this blog. For those of you who post comments, you’ll know that all comments are held for moderation in order to filter out spam (we get lots of them after spammers realized how much traffic we get), bad language and just plain dumb comments. Once in a while (although not much these days, we’ll get a weird one from some strange source or another (remember these two posts from back in 2008HERE andHERE). . Anyway, after posting the piece on the new OSHA study summary on long-term problems from brain injuries pose for football players, we found this strange comment awaiting approval (as always, click on thumbnails to enlarge for easier viewing): .
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 »
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
Someone once said not long ago that George Martin’s ascension to the Executive Directorship of the NFL Alumni was the perfect example of the American Dream. In reality, honesty and integrity will always get you where you need to go in following the real American Dream. The old adage, “The people you pass on the way up the ladder will be the same people you run into on the way down” should hold true here. . We also want to ask Commissioner Goodell if he plans to hold George Martin and Ron George to the same high standard of full accountability that he imposed on the New Orleans Saints players during his bounty investigation? In the real game of life, there is no room for double standards, Mr. Commissioner. But in real life, it’s not going to be game suspensions. People’s lives have been totally disrupted or even destroyed as a consequence of George Martin’s actions – or inactions. Spending money like a drunken sailor – particularly when it’s not yours to spend – is a recipe for disaster. We wonder if brain damage is now going to be the excuse? . Here’s the story from A.J. Perez FOX Sports: .
We have recently read the expose of George Martin and the NFL Alumni Association written by A. J. Perez and Alex Marvez for FOX Sports. We have also read the accounts of the Alumni’s press conference from the Super Bowl; and of their Board of Directors’ support for George Martin. .
I am not a former player and often wonder why and how I got involved in their issues. However, getting to know – and work with – many retired players over the past few years has been a personal and professional highlight of my life and career. I am proud to call many retired players my friends and most of them are a tremendous source of inspiration for me. .
That said, I have thought that I have had something worthwhile to contribute to the cause of retired players and their families – specifically my expertise in disability law. And it is with those thoughts in mind that I became actively involved in helping the NFL Alumni transition from Caring for Kids to a role as the primary advocate for the needs of retired players, their families and their widows. .
You will recall that several years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell visited several cities to meet with RETIRED PLAYERS ONLY to try to learn what was on their minds. Many of you will recall that Dr. Eleanor Perfetto was not allowed to attend a meeting on behalf of her husband, Ralph Wenzel, who suffers from dementia. You may also recall that I was allowed into the meeting in Dallas – but not allowed to speak. I was very skeptical about what Commissioner Goodell and the NFL were up to. .
Not long after, I got a call from Bruce Laird, President of Fourth and Goal – one of the first retired player advocacy organizations who were raising money on behalf of – and advocating for – retired players. He told me that Goodell had called him and asked if Fourth and Goal would work with the NFL Alumni to refocus their efforts towards retired players and become one unified and representative advocacy organization. As we envisioned it, we would have one truly representative group that would speak on behalf of retired players’ issues – from intellectual property rights to significant pension improvements and much needed disability reform – with both the League and the Union. .
It was a tremendous effort on the part of many men to establish the new Alumni Association and hire George Martin as their executive director. Many of us involved in the effort took a lot of heat from all sides. The PA would not have anything to do with this, as they felt (as many others did) that this was a ploy by the NFL to curry favor with retired players as the League and Union moved towards the new CBA. While the men of the PA had little regard for what I had to say about needed disability reforms (which would only have served to help their members), I continued on, hoping that I would have the opportunity to discuss cases, problems, ideas and solutions with the League or various owners. I pressed on, hoping that Bruce Laird, Jeff Nixon and others well-versed in the pension plan, the CBA and all issues facing retired players, would also have the chance to meet face-to-face with the CBA decision makers. .
It never happened. .
Fast forward to where we are today – a CBA that did not come close to adequately addressing the needs of retired players. As all of you know, those failings are the subject of a lawsuit pending in Minnesota against the Union. While the League and Union think they have a 10-year period of “labor peace” to look forward to, they will clearly be kept busy by retired players who continue to feel left out, bruised and abused – in light of what they did to make the game what it is today and in light of the almost unimaginable amount of money the NFL is now generating. .
The Legacy Fund (anyone get their checks yet?) is but a drop in the bucket of what was needed. The League and Union are now scrambling to decide what to do about the disaster of leaving widows out of the picture. .
Which brings me back to the Alumni Association. What have they done for retired players and their families? Were they a significant role-player in the CBA as we had hoped? Are retired players happy with what they are doing? Has the membership grown or decreased since George Martin was hired? (We hear from a former employee that membership was down significantly but we really don’t know.) I do know that there are a number of NFL cities where there is no longer an Alumni chapter – including here in Atlanta – where there are between 700 and 800 retired players. .
The Alumni has had three major programs – all highly touted: the Satcher Leadership Institute of Morehouse School of Medicine and their mental health awareness program; their partnership with the Gay Culverhouse Player Outreach Program; and the Long-Term Care Insurance program. All of them great, helpful programs. But they weren’t really the Alumni’s – they were the League’s and the Alumni’s role in them appears to be little more than lip-service. .
I am sure that Commissioner Goodell and the League expected the Alumni to be self-sustaining by now. At least when we started down this path, that is what those of us at Fourth and Goal had expected. To the best of my knowledge, they are not. They have been the beneficiary of millions of dollars in “interest-free loans” from the League. .
The point of this letter is that at this point in time, I don’t think it really matters what I think of the Alumni or George Martin’s leadership. I don’t think it really matters what the majority of retired players think about them. And although the Board of Directors is supposed to be in charge, I don’t think it really matters what they think, or how much confidence they have in George Martin and the Alumni’s direction. .
The only one who really matters is Roger Goodell. Is he willing to continue to invest multiple millions of dollars to try to prop them up on their feet – or is it time to close the checkbook and see if they can stand on their own feet? .
Retired Player Advocate . . .
The Super Bowl show is now in full swing and today, George Martin and the NFL Alumni Board showed up for a full-court press conference to show unity behind their beloved leader. FOX Sports was in attendance and A.J. Perez covered it (comic book version at the bottom of the post) : . .
NFL alumni board defends director
by A.J. Perez Feb. 2, 2012 . Members of the NFL Alumni Association board of directors voiced their support for executive director George Martin at a news conference Thursday, a week after a FOXSports.com report revealed possible mismanagement of the financially strapped organization. . “People can write whatever they want to write,” said Harry Carson, a former teammate of Martin’s on the New York Giants who pushed vigorously for Martin’s appointment in 2009. “You see all the individuals sitting here. We are backing this man 150 percent. We are his teammates and we are doing everything that we can to help our team, the retired players community, be successful.” . FOXSports.com reported that the NFL Alumni Association — which began to advocate for retired players in conjunction with Martin’s hiring — has slid deeper into financial disarray and has been propped up by NFL loans totaling more than $4 million over the past two years. Martin also funneled contracts to family members, according to the report, and the charity he founded received free Super Bowl tickets. . Five board members spoke on Martin’s behalf when asked about the report during the news conference. Afterward, one of the board members, former Baltimore Colts running back Tom Nowatzke, told FOXSports.com that the NFLAA ethics board addressed one of the conflict-of-interest claims made in the article: Martin’s use of his wife and daughter-in-law’s catering firm. . continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of NFL Alumni COO Ron George’s Memo to Chapter Presidents arrived in our Inboxes this morning. Here it is in its entirety: . From: Ronald George Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 To: Chapter Presidents Cc: George Martin; Joe Pisarcik; Randy Minniear Subject: FoxSports Article . .
Dear Chapter Presidents, . .
Below you will find links to two articles written by FoxSports.com that were posted today. . continue reading »
FOX Sports‘ A.J. Perez and Alex Marvez kick off Super Bowl week with a scathing exposé on the inner workings of the NFL Alumni and its Executive Director, George Martin. .
One question we keep wondering about: Just exactly how many retired football player members does the NFL Alumni actually have? The one thing even the NFLPA manages to be transparent about is its membership roster and they even provide an online list for all to see. But George Martin and his management team continue to cite numbers in the thousands, claiming that their membership is the largest collective group of retired players. But this article cites around $80,000 collected from May through September 2011. At $100 per member, simple arithmetic tells you that’s 800 members. But when you factor in the $5,000 fees from the remaining chapters who may have sent in their dues during that same period, one has to wonder how much of that $80,000 actually comes from individual memberships? We’ve heard from all too many sources that the membership has dropped to below 500 actual dues-paying retired players, with the remaining members classified as “Associate Members” that include fans and other non-retirees. Heck, if the NFL has given the Alumni $4 million in interest-free loans since George Martin took over, maybe it might have been cheaper to just pay each of the estimated 15,000+ retired players (just one estimate) $100 apiece to be members of the Alumni? continue reading »
OK – so here we go again. We posted Dan Pastorini’s story about wanting to opt out of the NFL Alumni’s Group Licensing Agreement (click HERE to read that earlier post). On their membership page online, the GLA was automatically attached as a part of the membership process with no option to opt-out of the agreement in order to join the Alumni. Dan pointed that out to the rest of us. And that’s when the knives came out. .
Look, we don’t care who said what and exactly what the details may have been between Dan Pastorini and George Martin. And quite frankly, like most people, WHO REALLY CARES?!! But then two Alumni members, David Carter, President of the Houston Chapter, and Rod Smith, Carolinas Chapter President – both members on the Alumni Board of Directors apparently – decided to give a detailed He-Said-He-Said version of what transpired between Pastorini and Martin. And then Jeff Nixon decided to jump in on the Alumni blog and make it personal with Dave and me. Again. We only hope they’re paying you well over at the Alumni now, Jeff… . Here’s the real issue and this is what we’re absolutely 110% in agreement with Dan Pastorini: Attaching a completely unrelated and unsolicited Licensing Agreement to what’s supposed to be nothing more than a simple membership enrollment is just plain wrong! In fact, it’s downright sneaky, unethical and it actually violates consumer law! . Jeff Nixon decided to call Dan Thursday and Dan shared that conversation with us on Friday: . “Jeff Nixon told me that George had admitted ‘He may have made a mistake’ in tying the GLA to their membership enrollment.” . “If I almost missed it when I was signing up, then I wonder how many other players had already missed that GLA footnote? And that was my point! It was all a matter of principle.” Dan said. “As a matter of fact, if George is finally coming out and admitting that it was a mistake in adding the contract and they’re now planning on removing that hook, what about all the guys who have already inadvertently signed their GLA? I think the Alumni needs to invalidate all those copies of the GLA that they’ve acquired through their membership forms and then offer their GLA to its members separately. It’s not me I’m concerned about now. It’s any of the other guys who have already been locked into this GLA without their full knowledge or consent.”
Dave - . After reading over the NFL Alumni’s Group Licensing Agreement, I decided to notify them that I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – accept their GLA which has developed virtually no revenue whatsoever for retired players. In fact, it looks to be clearly designed to impact and damage the Dryer v. NFL lawsuit on behalf of all retired players. Next thing you know, I’m being told by George Martin himself that I could no longer be a member of the NFL Alumni! . I’d like to suggest that other retired players might not want to be NFL Alumni members …unless they want to support the NFL’s ongoing poor treatment of retired players. We don’t want to be paying for George’s new Escalade and we sure don’t want another repeat of Gene Upshaw’s GLA “One-for-You-and-One-Million-for-Me” deals.(Click on Dan’s membership cancellation to enlarge for easier reading.) . . Dan Pastorini Oilers, Rams, Raiders & Eagles 1971 – 1984 . EDITOR’S NOTE: Dan sent us some additional clarification on his Alumni membership: .
I tried to pay my dues online but it wouldn’t let me unless I checked the GLA box! I then e-mailed them and asked why I couldn’t join without agreeing to the GLA. They informed me I could send a check. Then I got George’s e-mail stating I was no longer a member. .
Dan . We uploaded a copy of the NFL Alumni GLA to Scribd for viewing and printing and to make it downloadable. You can also click the Fullscreen button on the left side of the menu to enlarge it for easier navigation (hit the ESC key to close) . NFL Alumni Group Licensing Agreement .
Hall-of-Famer Ron Mix attended and spoke at our first Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference last week, held at the South Point Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. We received Ron’s overview and editorial letter this morning and we’re posting it in its entirety below. Thanks, Ron! .
You can view and read more of the entire event by going to the site by clicking HERE. (We will be updating the site constantly all week long as we finalize sound enhancements on all our videos as well as add more commentary and PowerPoints from our speakers.) And if you would like to help advance our cause by being a founding donor, please feel free to go to our Donation page by clicking HERE. . continue reading »