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). .
We wrapped Friday up with a discussion on Workers Compensation. Workmans Comp may be in for some serious changes shortly with Bill AB 1309 coming up for a vote in the California State capitol later this year. This bill will block professional athletes from filing Workers Compensation claims in the State of California and each of us needs to let your local representatives know that you disapprove of this bill. Many who have been navigating the system for a few years with their applications have already found their pending cases suspended while awaiting the vote. Workers Comp attorney Ron Mix (Chargers & Raiders 1960 – 1971) and George Visger (49ers 1980 – 1981) have been outspoken advocates lobbying against this Bill in Sacramento and discuss the details of what the legislators are trying to do with one more benefit you were actually paying for out of your paychecks. (And in case there of some of you who are unaware, George has already gotten the short end of the stick from the NFL: Even though he’s a pre-’93 player with a Super Bowl ring (49ers in Super Bowl XVI), George doesn’t qualify for any disability benefits from the NFL. Why? Because he didn’t play four full seasons to qualify under the NFL’s Plan rules! . Don’t think these politicians are only going to target professional athletes – who do you think they’ll target next? Long distance truck drivers? Farm workers? And just how much does the NFL and its insurers think they’ll be saving by quietly supporting this bill? This bill will affect everyone. (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 »
. 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).
EDITOR’S NOTE:Well, you know it’s definitely Super Bowl time when the NFL keeps trying to roll out as many new PR programs as they can leading up to the big game. And by now, most of you retired players have received the fancy new announcement for the NFL’s Training for Life program. A very expensive-looking package with a personal invitation from Troy Vincent (wonder how much they spent on that?). We thought there were Super Bowl tickets enclosed so Dave could go to that Free Health Screening Program they announced last week. Here’s that fancy envelope and a personal note from Troy Vincent!Click on the thumbnails to enlarge for your entertainment pleasure! . . . Retired Bronco Larry Kaminski didn’t waste any time – or mince any words – in sending a response to Troy Vincent back at the NFL’s Player Engagement Dept.: .
EDITOR’S NOTE: A long piece well worth the read from Patrick Hruby detailing the long history of denials and worse on the part of the NCAA when it comes to concussions. Many of the retired players may still remember (or not!) how concussions were largely ignored when you played in college and how that culture followed you into the NFL. The parallels to the League’s history of denial is not surprising, right down to their current battles with insurers over litigation coverage. (Patrick did a lot of research for this piece. There are a lot of links within this article that are also well worth clicking and reading.)
Re-posted with permission from Patrick Hruby:
January 16, 2013
Ramogi Huma wasn’t asking for much. Just for a chance to speak. An opportunity to share a few commonsense ideas about how to make college football slightly safer and more humane for its on-field participants, the young men putting their brains and futures at risk, in part, so that credit card companies and fast food taco peddlers can more easily reach potential customers. . continue reading »
Many of you readers probably remember that Riddell (the OFFICIAL Helmet of the NFL!) saw most of their insurance companies bail on them this Spring as concussion lawsuits mounted (well over 3,000 so far). This escalated into strained relations between the NFL and Riddell as the helmet manufacturer scrambles to limit their risks and liability. And now, earlier this week, Alterra America Insurance went to court in New York to have their liability limited in covering the NFL, both with defending them in court as well as in the payout should the retired players ultimately succeed in their litigation. . Everyone knows that insurance companies run on numbers and statistics so they can make money by taking calculated risks. What have they learned recently that has them bailing like rats off a sinking ship? We suspect that as the insurance companies’ litigation moves forward, there may well be a lot of information disclosed and exposed that should affirm much of what retired players have also been asserting in their lawsuits against the NFL. BTW – It’s also interesting to note that the ESPN article seems to indicate that Alterra has only been covering the NFL for the past year (?!!). Does this mean that they just came on board after other insurers jumped ship? Inquiring minds want to know! . Here’s the story on Alterra as reported on ESPN followed by a terrific summary from our friend (and hopefully new law school grad!), Paul Anderson, over atNFL Concussion Litigation: .
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. . 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): . 2012 NFLPA LM-2 . 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?): . 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. .
On Sunday, the Denver Post published an article and interview I did last week with sports journalist, Terry Frei. Over the course of our conversation which mostly covered the issues of injuries and concussions and the subsequent consequences of the League’s general attitude of denial at all levels. (A link to that article is at the bottom of this post.) At one point in our conversation, I told Terry, “The concussion issue, if not handled right, has the potential to end football.” (My emphasis.) What I did NOT say was that the concussion issue would end football. No sooner than Terry’s article was posted, then the other media and bloggers immediately re-wrote the story and started to misquote me. The worst misquote? NFL.com with this headline: Ex-player Dave Pear says concussion issue could end NFL. Not really what I said at all. . Most of our readers know that my long battle has always been about legal and open access to OUR earned pension and disability benefits. And any resolution on concussions will need to address three separate groups of players: Past, Present and Future. (By the way, you might remember that this slogan used to be on all our NFLPA membership cards.) Each of the retired players who played will need to have direct access to their benefits that should include testing and treatments from their football-related concussions and brain damage, as well as access to assisted care and monitoring in later years. There is no doubt that most of the earlier players from the 50′s and 60′s were not given the safest equipment during their playing careers. It was even more about the money back then than it is today – just ask the men who played on the original hard surfaces of Astro Turf about the toll it took on their bodies and their heads. All for the savings the owners made from not having to maintain real turf. And they went on strike in the late 50′s and early 60′s not for more money but to make the owners pay for their uniforms and equipment. . For the present-day players, the addition of independent neurologists on the sidelines certainly helps, along with better-defined rules to ensure that concussed players don’t return to the game unless cleared by experts (no more Dr. No’s). Many of the new rules are a good step in the right direction. Newer treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) are being shown to shorten recovery while helping with healing to the damage that concussions leave behind. Even if owners are more concerned about profits, the ROI on getting a million-dollar-a-year asset back on the field in half the normal time makes pure business sense. And while the League is at it, a great PR move would be to allow retired players free access to these hyperbaric chambers when they’re not being used by the team. . For future players, any improvements in the rules and knowledge gained from players past and present can only serve to provide them with a much safer game while still preserving the game of football as we know and love it. But if we’re going to save football, players from the past, present and future will need to work together in order to help protect each other first. Current and future players owe the retired players a priceless debt for the sacrifices they paid with their bodies and brains – as well as the long years of denial – to get to this point where there is finally a serious discussion on something that affects us all. The players of the future will surely also benefit from the way the game is shaped for today’s players. .
Ex-NFL player Dave Pear seeks to change league policy on concussions
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. .
EDITOR’S NOTE:Some of you may remember Andrew Stewart’s long battle to access his earned Disability Benefits from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan. He ended up taking them to court. You can read the earlier posts by clickingHERE, HERE, HEREandHERE. All from 2010! .
Hi Dave, .
Here is an update along with some shocking comments from my court case with the NFLPA in Federal Court. .
After many years and delays, we finally reached our court date which was last Monday. My lawyer was there and the Plan sent several lawyers AND their secretaries. .
Their whole argument was not that they were right but that they are and should be afforded discretion under the law. They stated before the judge that Dr. Bach was on “Their Team” and the judge questioned whether they really wanted to say that. Even though Dr. Bach had never examined me, never treated me and didn’t even bother to see any of the X-rays of my injuries, he still decided that in his medical opinion, “It was not even close” as to whether I was disabled or not held more weight than any detailed medical evaluation that their neutral examining doctor could give. . “Not even close.” Would you trust your doctor if he chose to only write that as his evaluation to any illness or injury you personally suffered? They also stated that they basically did me a favour by putting me on the lower amount and that I should grateful. (!) .
Doug Ell, the lawyer for the Plan, stated in court that one of the reasons they couldn’t pay every player the higher amount was that the Plan has to watch its bottom line since they have to make sure there’s enough money for players such as Brett Favre. It is important to state that during testimony, it was also disclosed that the Plan currently has over a billion dollars in assets. So apparently, we’re valued differently by the NFL: Not for your vested seasons or your injuries but maybe by how many more jerseys you can sell and your commercial appeal! .
In the end, the judge decided that he wanted briefs filed by the end of March and he would then rule. .
Although the NFLPA’s lawyers felt that this judge is not what they call “a plan-friendly judge” as they have stated to my lawyer, I feel that the judge is very fair and is taking this case very seriously because there are just too many instances where they are not following their own rules as laid out by the Plan and – depending on the case – they’re prepared to change them accordingly. .
Andrew Stewart . . . ADDENDUM FROM IRV MUCHNICK MARCH 7th:
March 4, 2012 .
On January 6, 2012, I met with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez at her southern California office with Mr. Mike Greenhaulgh, part owner/operator of the Sacramento Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment center where I have been receiving treatments for the last two years, and Dr. William Duncan, President of the Hyperbaric Medical Association and Capital lobbyist. My 49ers teammate, Dan Bunz, and I also met with Senator Ted Gaines on December 27 and February 22, 2012. All the meetings were to address the legality of the NFL’s lack of benefits for its injured employees. Both Congresswoman Sanchez and Senator Gaines are looking into additional Congressional hearings on this matter. .
We are trying to gather solid information to ascertain the status of former employees/players of the NFL. For many years, we have been inundated with mixed information regarding the percentage of former employees/players who actually qualify for NFL retirement benefits, the percentage of former employee/players forced to draw SSI and life expectancy of former employee/players. With you being the President of the NFL Players Association, in charge of securing and overseeing the player’s/employee’s benefits, I am requesting data on the following:
What is the average life expectancy of a former NFL employee/player? Many years ago a letter was issued from the NFL encouraging players to take their retirement benefits early as most would not live to retirement age. This was followed up with a recent survey letters asking if we were still alive. I had been told for years that the average life expectancy of a former NFL employee/player was his late 50’s.
What percentage of all pre-93 employees/players who played in the NFL actually played long enough to reach the 4-year vesting threshold? From what I am reading now, the average NFL career is only 3.2 years. The numbers I was given when I played in 1980 and 1981 was 2-½ years. Surely the NFLPA maintains a roster of all players who were on active rosters at one time or another.
What percentage of employee/players have successfully been approved for SSI? After my 3rd evaluation at Dr. Amen’s clinic January, 2012, I was given a referral to file for SSI as Dr. Amen had me rated at 100% disabled due to frontal lobe dementia and damage to my temporal lobes of my brain.
If a player qualifies for SSI disability, how can he be denied NFL disability? How can the NFL’s disability requirements be higher than those of the general public?
What percentage of employee/players have successfully been approved for Medicare?
How many of Tom Condon’s clients were approved for NFL benefits as opposed to the general number of players who were approved (or declined)?
When did NFL employee/players begin filing for Workers Compensation?
What percentage of NFL employee/players have been approved for Workers Compensation?
. Larry Kaminski has been keeping us updated on his battle against the Denver Broncos filed in California under their Workers Compensation laws. The Broncos current ownership is trying to have their case heard and dismissed in Federal Court based on their claim that when they bought the team, they only acquired the assets and not the liabilities (yes, just when you don’t think it can get any dumber).Read the earlier post – clickHERE. . Here’s a short update from Larry for those of you also going through Workers Compensation cases or considering that as an option: .
Fellow Independent Retired Players: .continue reading »