NFL: Nonprofit Football League

26 September 2013


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Some mid-week reading as we go into the beginning of the season. Seems like the mainstream media can’t seem to stop picking on the poor NFL these days. More articles are coming out on the NFL’s nonprofit designation as well as the fact that they pay for as little as they possibly can when it comes to… well, just about everything. From refusal to accept responsibility in paying their retired players their earned disability and pension benefits to taxes to publicly-financed stadiums that the teams rent for peanuts while reaping all the rewards from ticket, food, parking and merchandise sales, the Nonprofit Football League manages to generate a $10 billion-a-year revenue stream that would make the Fortune 500 if it weren’t for their nonprofit status.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Here’s Jennifer’s message along with her audio comments:
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Robert,
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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).
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In Def Hell
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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.
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Jennifer
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Click the PLAY button to listen to Jennifer’s personal commentary (13 minutes).
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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 clicking HERE.)
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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.
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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.
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Here’s a list of our Panelists with biographies:
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Bennett OmaluDr. Bennet Omalu
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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].
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In their recent all-but-done NFL Films Settlement Offer, the NFL flashed another possible “benefit” that most players will probably never see or access in their collective lifetimes. The majority of retired players have yet to receive any real benefits from all those slick PR benefits programs offered in the past – why would one more program simply intended to avoid paying any real money to the players be different with this new deal? As part of the ongoing negotiations, perhaps Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith – along with all of their staff at the NFL and the NFLPA – should be asked to switch over their entire medical and retirement benefits to programs exactly like that offered to the men who made their jobs possible. What do you think they’d say about that? If their offer was such a good deal why wouldn’t they take the same benefits over 8 years?
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In one more typical example of life after football, we’re posting another slideshow of what happens to all too many players after they leave the game: Dave went in for his 15th (or was it his 16th?) surgery yesterday. This time it was to widen his spinal canal in a procedure that uses new laser technology. None of this is covered by any NFL disability or healthcare plans – nor has it ever been covered in the past. Just one more work-related injury that my former employer, the NFL, won’t pay for.
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We have a full-color gallery of shots taken before and during the entire operation. (WARNING: Not for the squeamish!) Dr. Mark Freeborn along with his entire team and the staff at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland are to be commended for an overall great surgical experience for Dave and Heidi! Dave made it home yesterday afternoon and is looking at a two-week recovery now.
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[dmalbum path=”/wp-content/uploads/dm-albums/Dave Surgery March 28 2013/”/]
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You can scroll through the pictures by clicking on the left- and right- arrows on the sides of each picture or you can select slideshow at the bottom.
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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.
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YahooSports

Deion Sanders doubts NFL’s concussion problem, says former players are looking for payday

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Even Judge Judy would agree!

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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.
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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.)
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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?
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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):
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Jimmie Giles vs Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan Final Ruling
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You may remember a post we featured last year in July 2011 from Alison Owens, wife of former Charger Terry Owens (click HERE to read that post). Sadly, Terry passed away at home on October 27, 2012 at the age of 68. Terry had only recently been approved for the NFL’s 88 Plan and his wife Alison wasn’t able to find a facility that could give Terry the round-the-clock care he needed in his final years of suffering from dementia. His brain tissue was donated to Sports Legacy Institute to confirm the likelihood of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Our thoughts and prayers go out to Alison and her family.
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Of course, the NFL continues to promote their great new concussion rules even as more and more stories of “undetected” concussions surface every day during the current season. And then you have players like Brady Quinn, who still “think” (for lack of a better word) that they can play through a concussion even after putting on the wrong helmet while sitting on the sidelines.

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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).
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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.
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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:
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Dear NFL Player,
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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)
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Bob Kuechenberg 2012 - credit Jennifer Thibeaux

Bob Kuechenberg 2012 – credit Jennifer Thibeaux

Herb Adderley, John Mackey, Mike Webster, Andre Waters. And the carnage goes on and on and on.
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Unless and until the 21st Century NFL undergoes a sea change – a total paradigm shift toward actually caring for their beloved 20th Century warriors – I have no interest in being associated with the NFL in any way, including the erstwhile noble idea of its Hall of Fame
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I am, however, keenly interested in contributing to bring into the American public’s consciousness the unbelievably shameful travesty known as the “NFL Retired Players Pension.
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I want to bring lasting attention to the deplorable and deliberate manner in which the NFL owners have set up a “maze” of red tape designed to prevent the hundreds – if not thousands – of living former NFL warriors from “having a life after football.
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Here’s a copy of the just-released 2012 LM-2 filed by the NFLPA with the Dept. of Labor. We’ll be posting more later about what we find in this latest LM-2 but we wanted to get it posted in time for your weekend entertainment. If any of you find some interesting tidbits, please post them in the Comments section. To get you started, Jeffrey Kessler’s former law firm Dewey LaBoeuf was paid around $2.5 million for their CBA and general legal work (before filing for bankruptcy protection, Latham & Watkins was paid $3.1 million and Patton Boggs was paid almost $950,000. So at least $6.5 million went to these three law firms alone last year.
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We uploaded the entire report 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):
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2012 NFLPA LM-2
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Oh – one more interesting observation: Here’s the answer provided for Question 17 tucked away at the very end of this document (Is there something they know that no one else seems to know yet or is it just arrogance?):
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Question 17: The NFLPA and NFL PLAYERS have been named defendant or co-defendant in a number of other legal actions. In the opinion of the General Counsel and management, these lawsuits will be resolved with no material impact on the NFLPA or its subsidiaries.
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First, some news and the intro: Retired players lost Round 1 in their battle to wrest control of their pensions and benefits away from the NFLPA. In her final motion filed last week in Minnesota court, Judge Nelson dismissed the Eller et al lawsuit brought against the NFLPA, Tom Brady and Mike Vrabel. That said, much of the motion left several issues open that will allow Hausfeld LLP and Zelle Hofmann to file an appeal shortly. What continues to be unclear is how the NFLPA could actually declare that they had negotiated retired players benefits when they were decertified as Union during the lockout last year. Magically, retired players benefits were negotiated in the short period after the Union recertified and then announced the shiny new CBA they had finalized. Got that? More analysis on this development in a future post.
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Tuesday, 15 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
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Steve Bartkowski wikipedia

Steve Bartkowski wikipedia


Steve Bartkowski, a newly elected member of the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame, is one of hundreds of former National Football League players who are suing their former employers for what best can be described as negligence for allegedly not telling league employees, the players, of the possible long time impact on the body of playing football. Bartkowski, who played with the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams between 1975 and 1985, has an assortment of ailments that came from playing.
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Bartkowski “signed up” for the lawsuit for family reasons although the suicide of a former teammate Ray Easterling in April may have played a role.
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“I signed up basically for my wife,” said Bartkowski. “I just don’t want her having to wheel my chair towards the sunset so I can watch it set. I am more concerned about her and her quality of life if things should take a turn for the worst. I mean I got dinged as many times probably a lot of these other guys.”
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Bartkowski looks physically good for a man of about 60. But he has many scars from playing the game.
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“I think for the first time we are starting to see some of the effects, the long term effects. The game. I don’t know if we tracked injuries like they are tracking them now. And I think we have some evidence that people can point to and say this is what has happened,” said Bartkowski. “I am all for trying to make the game safer for guys who are playing or at least make them aware of what some of the long-term sort of debilitating effects can be.
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“What have I got? Well, I got two knees replaced after nine operations. I am sure there are some other things that are approaching. I have a bad hip, I got a left elbow that doesn’t work very good anymore. But I think we know what we sign up for. It is a physical game. You are in a car wreck every weekend that you play in and sometimes multiple car wrecks, so it’s part of the issue. I hope it doesn’t end up shaping the game going forward but I do hope the guys who need help get it from the appropriate sources.”
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The “appropriate sources” should start with the National Football League Players Association since benefits are collectively bargained between the owners and players. The NFLPA did a rotten job protecting the membership’s long-term future by asking for “Money Now” in 1982 and has always been more concerned about money than long time health issues. The players played games on awful surfaces in places like Philadelphia and Houston yet that didn’t seem to be a concern of the NFLPA.
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“I think so (referring to both the NFL owners and the NFLPA), those are the guys that are driving the bus on this,” said Bartkowski. “I think the NFL has acknowledged that there are some long tern effects from the game and I think that is the reason for some of the safety measures that Commissioner (Roger) Goodell is trying to implement and sort of evolved the game.”
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Players from Bartkowski’s era got as much as five years of medical benefits after they were cut or retired. Some of the Bartkowski era players are now living in the United States safety net and receive Social Security Disability Insurance and are on Medicare long before their 65th birthday.
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“I don’t think we even got five (years) when I was playing, it may be that now,” he recalled.
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“The new collective bargaining agreement, I think, covers a lot more than what the old one did.”
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So who is responsible for the care of the discarded players?
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“That’s a great question,” said Bartkowski. “I think the major thing in the (law)suit was how much did the NFL know about the concussion issue and when did they know it? I think that to me is really the issue. If there were guys out there doing the head banging and didn’t know the long term effects could cause early onset dementia and some of the other things that we are seeing out there in the retired player community, I think somebody is liable for that I would think. Not only the player when he signs his contract, when he signs up for that sort of a violent sport but at the same time the issue is what did they know and when did they know it?”
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Bartkowski played with Ray Easterling for three years in Atlanta between 1975 and 1977. Eastlerling shot himself to death in April. Two former NFL players Easterling and Junior Seau committed suicide within a month of one another.
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Easterling was 62 and seemed to have the same physical and mental health issues that face many former players. Reportedly he suffered from depression and insomnia. He underwent 25 different surgeries and had a hip replacement. In March 2011, Easterling was diagnosed with dementia in March 2011.
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“I had a former teammate of mine who was in the early stages of dementia, Ray Easterling. He just decided he wasn’t going to put his family through it and he ended up taking his own life” said Bartkowski. “I watched Ray going downhill. He was one of the hardest hitting guys. He never backed down on a drill and never backed down on a Sunday afternoon. He was a great teammate but I don’t think he had any idea what he was sacrificing later on in the latter stages of his life.
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“I talked to him, he asked me to write a letter in support of his case and I just looked at his chronology of his slide down the hill and was happy to write the letter and say what I saw. Ray was one of the smartest, sharpest guys that I ever teed it up with so to speak and to watch him where he couldn’t carry on a conversation was very difficult.”
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Memory loss is a common thread in the discarded players’ community.
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“I’ve got some of that too,” said Bartkowski. “It is hard for me to remember a lot of things.”
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The lawsuits have been filed, consolidated and will eventually go to court. Nothing is going to be settled anytime soon but the game of football figures to be put on trail.
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“I’m sure it will,” said Bartkowski of how long the lawsuit may take before it is finally settled. “There are extenuating circumstances in all these different cases. But I think if it does nothing more than move the game to safer turf and safer territory for the guys who love it and would have played it if they didn’t get paid to play it. I was one of those guys, I loved the thrill of Sunday afternoon and being out there and playing with the boys. I didn’t know what the long term effects might be and didn’t really care about them at that point in time.
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“If we can make the game safer and make it a little more easier on you in your twilight years then I am all for that.”
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Evan Weiner


Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on “The Politics of Sports Business.” His book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at www.bickley.com or amazonkindle. He can be reached at evanjweiner@yahoo.com
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Wednesday, 2 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
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I didn’t know Junior Seau although I met him on the day he was drafted into the National Football League in 1990 and probably interviewed him after a football game a few times more. From all accounts, he was a fearsome presence on the football field; a killer who at times could control a game defensively.
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But Junior Seau didn’t live to be a ripe old age and until an autopsy is performed and a police investigation is complete, there is no need to speculate about the circumstances surrounding Seau’s death other than he was found dead of a shotgun wound on the morning of May 2, 2012 about 22 years after the San Diego Chargers football team called his name at the annual National Football League event.
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The gun wound should strike a nerve among former players. It seems that is becoming a way of life and death among NFL alum suffering from life altering injuries that probably came from years and years of absorbing hits on the football field. People do hear about former NFL players but there seems to be no tracking of high school and college players who years after their football careers ended killed themselves.
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