Yesterday, we posted an update on the NFL concussion coverup with ESPN and mentioned the unintended consequences of The Streisand Effect. (Click HERE to read the entry on Wikipedia.) Well, you know it’s becoming a major embarrassment and a joke when it starts to get attention on the other side of the world where they don’t even watch American football. This morning, the Taiwanese television network that produces those funny NMA animations on YouTube have already done their take on the NFL/ESPN coverup.
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This isn’t going away any time soon – thanks, NFL. We couldn’t have done a better job ourselves!
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Most retired players and fans remember Fred Dryer (NY Giants, LA Rams 1969 – 1981). As the original lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the NFL and NFL Films, Fred and the other five co-plaintiffs have watched as the lawsuit was diverted from their original goal of finally getting back visual and image rights for ALL retired players after decades of unauthorized and uncompensated use by the League. Fred did a recent interview on SBNation’s Uffsides with host Matt Ufford.
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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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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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The original lawsuit against NFL Films was filed with Fred Dryer as the original lead plaintiff with Elvin Bethea, Jim Marshall, Joe Senser, Dan Pastorini and Ed White joining him early in the process. Bob Stein and Tom Ward were the original attorneys working with Fred Dryer. Naturally, Bob Stein and Tom Ward are excluded from any attorney fees (as are the original six plaintiffs) by the NFL group that includes Hausfeld LLP, Zimmerman & Reed and Gustafson Gluek, all for having the gall to ask for what the NFL really owes ALL NFL players: Money.
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In this third part of our discussion. Fred makes a strong and passionate argument against the current Settlement Offer as presented and endorsed by the NFL and a separate group of retired players as recruited by Hausfeld and Zimmerman and the NFL. Questions were allowed during the discussion and you will hear the overwhelming objections from the audience to the NFL’s “final” Offer. And the Original Six Plaintiffs were all present or represented at our Conference (Jim Marshall’s wife managed to attend on his behalf and you can see her asking one of the questions from the audience). And as we pointed out earlier, it’s interesting that the so-called solid majority of other players and attorneys on the side of the NFL Settlement Offer could not muster one single lawyer or even one other player aside from Ron Mix to stand up for their wonderful deal.
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Attorney Michael Ciresi (Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi) is one of the attorneys representing the Original Six Plaintiffs in the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit. Ciresi was the attorney who made the case against the Settlement Offer in Minnesota Federal Court while Dan Gustafson made the arguments for the Settlement Offer on behalf of a new group of added plaintiffs. In this second of three segments from our Dryer vs NFL Films discussion, you will hear Mike Ciresi give his legal arguments to retired players in the audience on why this is a one-sided offer made in bad faith. (You can read all Panelist biographies by clicking HERE.)
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As we were planning our Conference over the last few weeks leading up to this past weekend, we had many discussions on the best way to present both sides of the Settlement Offer to the retired football player community so each one of you can make an informed decision. We finally decided to invite each attorney who made the final presentations in Federal Court to Judge Magnuson in Minnesota: attorney Dan Gustafson from the firm Gustafson Gluek PLLC accepted on behalf of the players whose names were listed in the Settlement Offer (you can review a copy of that offer by clicking HERE) and attorney Michael Ciresi of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi accepted on behalf of the original six plaintiffs. Of the six original plaintiffs, five of them managed to show up for the Conference. Ron Mix graciously accepted to present his reasons for accepting the offer while Fred Dryer – the original named plaintiff in Dryer vs NFL Films – joined Mike Ciresi to present their opposing position.
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Unfortunately, by late Friday, we received confirmation that attorney Dan Gustafson would not be attending because of a family matter and no replacement would be sent to replace him, leaving Ron Mix to make the case for accepting the Settlement as well as answering questions from the audience. This Settlement Offer has been promoted as the best deal retired players can expect from the NFL while also declaring that only a very tiny but vocal minority of retirees were opposed to it. Quite frankly, we were surprised that those parties with their overwhelming majority didn’t manage to find one single replacement for attorney Gustafson to present their claim of a done deal. Ron Mix managed to maintain a dignified and professional approach in explaining many of the still-unanswered details of this 160+ page Settlement Offer while plaintiffs’ attorney Mike Ciresi and Fred Dryer each made their presentations of opposing what they believed to be a very one-sided and typically worthless Offer which included punitive expenses to be taken out of the Offer to fight those who would oppose it. While many in the audience vented their anger and frustration with the Offer towards Ron Mix personally, we truly believe that Ron sincerely felt that this was the best deal possible from a pragmatic point of view and as such, we need to respect Ron for being there to present his opinions in a very dignified manner. Our reasoning is that even with all their resources, no one else was sent to back Ron up was perhaps a way to damage Ron’s standing with retired players as a strong advocate for Workers Compensation rights, specifically in the State of California. Ron has successfully fought for Workers Comp benefits over many years for hundreds of professional athletes and now continues to personally carry on the battle to oppose California Bill AB 1309 which will eliminate Workers Comp claims for professional athletes in California. The League certainly benefits by eliminating these claims and damaging Ron’s standing in the retiree community would certainly be a side benefit of leaving him to defend their Settlement Offer on his own this past weekend.
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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!
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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 clicking HERE.)
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Yakub Hazzard from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi spent over an hour explaining and answering questions about basic visual rights, how they work and what others can – and can’t – do with them. This is the basic primer that neither the NFL nor the NFLPA nor your agent EVER wanted football players to understand. (You can read all biographies by clicking HERE.)
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EDITOR’S NOTE – MAY 8 2013: We just uploaded Yakub’s slideshow so you can follow along with the video. You can view each slideshow full screen by clicking on the FullScreen icon in the lower right corner of each slide screen (press ESC to close the slideshow).
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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.)
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Dr. Bennet Omalu was the first pathologist to uncover the presence of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in the brains of retired football players. It all started when Mike Webster’s body ended up on his examination table in Pittsburgh in 2002. As assistant coroner in Pittsburgh at the time, Dr. Omalu sought permission to examine Webster’s brain. In the years following, several more retired football players bodies arrived in their morgue including Andree Waters. Since then, Dr. Omalu has become the chief coroner in San Joaquin and has continued his work on CTE and advancing the study of brain trauma in society in general and football in particular. The NFL has been trying to discredit Dr. Omalu for over 10 years. Dr. Omalu is probably on the NFL’s Top 10 Most Hated List with the NFL. You can read his biography by clicking HERE.
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rubber-glovesWe just received a copy of the NFL Neuro-Cognitive Benefit application form. Attorney John Hogan had discussed some of the issues and problems with this plan at our 2012 Independent Football Players Conference last April (we’ve attached his video to the bottom of this post). John’s early observations on the new Plan and programs are in the first half of his discussion.
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NOTE: Be sure to look at Pages 2, 4 and 5 in this application. Here’s a clip from Page 2 (click to enlarge for easier viewing):
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NFL Player Cognitive Plan Waiver
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You can read our earlier post that includes an outline of the new Plan by clicking HERE.

And a fresh observation from disability attorney John Hogan:
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I now have an additional comment or two: If you seek the counsel of an attorney regarding  this and he or she thinks you fully understand it, and they recommend you sign it, please send me their name and address so I might look into a legal malpractice claim! Assuming a guy might be eligible for this benefit, I would want the medical opinion of a Board-certified mental health professional indicating that the guy understands it! If you don’t seek the opinion of an attorney, and sign it, and qualify for the benefit because you have a significant cognitive impairment, I would think you could later assert that you did not have the required mental capacity to knowingly and intelligently waiving your right to sue for other benefits.
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Also, will the examination they send you to evaluate whether they think you understand the waiver of rights?  (Another possible malpractice action – or even a crime: A  doctor giving legal advice or a lawyer giving medical advice?) This is all rather incredible to me.
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We uploaded a copy of this Application to Scribd for easy viewing on our Blog and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close):
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Concussion coverage continues to take center stage in mid-season as ESPN keeps digging deeper into the contradictory position the League continued to take on the long-term damages of brain injuries from a career in football. Mark Fainaru-Wada reports on the findings of a joint ESPN Outside the Lines and PBS Frontline investigation. Dave’s concussion lawsuit attorney Jason Luckasevic was part of a discussion panel with ESPN’s Outside the Lines this past Friday – here’s the audio:
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And here’s an earlier OTL video from back in February 2012 with background on the growing concussion lawsuits being filed:
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Then there’s a very recent clip from ESPN discussing the “smoking gun” that could damage the NFL’s claims of ignorance about concussions even as the Disability Board unanimously approved three disability claims based on concussion injuries suffered by players – all while denying the majority of similar claims by publicly disavowing any connection of long-term damages from concussions and brain injuries. Hall of Famer Mike Webster is the most prominent of those three approved claims with a $1.8 million settlement to his estate after giving the NFL and its Disability Plan a sound beating in the appeals process.
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And the article from Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada at ESPN:
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Mixed messages on brain injuries

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A 2009 Sports Illustrated article reported that 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. And after two years of retirement, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress. (You can read Pablo Torre‘s piece from the SI Archives – click HERE.)

From the new ESPN Series “30 For 30,” here’s director Billy Corben’s contribution ‘Broke: How Millionaire Athletes End Up Broke.’ (This is the entire 1:27 film so when you start the video, click the Full Screen icon in the lower right corner of the video screen to take it all in.)
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We understand the NFLPA is objecting to some statements made by reporter Darren Rovell in the movie. (Read about their statement on B&C – click HERE.)
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EDITOR’S NOTE (Oct. 10, 2012): We just added an interview to the end of this post from radio program Sports Unplugged with Broke director Billy Corben discussing more background on what he learned during the making of his film.
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As a final teaser in the wake of the end of the referee lockout, here’s an old interview from 1989 with Dan Moldea, author of Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football. But it’s all cleaned up today, right? Interview by a VERY young Pat Sajak!
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(P.S. – Bonus Trivia – Dan Moldea also happens to be co-author of Evidence Dismissed: The Inside Story of the Police Investigation of O.J. Simpson.)
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