After a few e-mail exchanges, Larry Lamade at Akin Gump graciously provided me with a bound copy of the latest Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan that was released in April 2012. . He also sent me a cover letter with attachments that outline a proposed amendment and a new Neuro-Cognitive Disability Benefit that are in the process of being added to the Plan. We’ll be adding comments and observations shortly. If any of our readers find some interesting points, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below. . We uploaded copies of the proposed changes and a full copy of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan to 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): .
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 »
Like most of you, I received an e-mail this morning from Dana at the NFL’s Player Care Foundation announcing their Super Bowl Health Screening Event scheduled for New Orleans at the end of this month just before the big game. We’re attaching a copy of the e-mail and announcement below (just click on the image to enlarge in another window for easier reading). And my response follows: . . Dear Dana, . Will the Player Care Foundation provide transportation and other related travel expenses for retired players? The vast majority of retired players – especially pre-1993 players – are not in any position to pay for the expense of going to your free health screening during Super Bowl. Do you have any idea how much airplane tickets, hotel and food will cost during Super Bowl? . In light of the recent findings in Junior Seau’s brain disease(click here:Junior Seau had brain disease CTE)has the Player Care Foundation ever considered a Neuropsychological evaluation by a licensed Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D.? This test along with a memory assessment evaluation would be very meaningful. I have had both of these tests and they were very revealing for my condition of repeated blows to the head. . As a pre-1993 player, we never made big money(click here:My 1975 Contract with The Colts)and I personally have spent over $600,000 of my own money (my family’s money) on injuries I received from playing football in the NFL). So attending this screening is unrealistic for me personally. . Please feel free to respond. . Best, Dave Pear . .
. The continuing flood of news coverage and studies has been relentless during this football season with no sign of letting up even as more retired players add their names to the growing list of concussion lawsuits. The results of Junior Seau’s brain study were finally released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) following months of speculation and rumors of a potential coverup following his suicide last May. We lead our latest concussion update post with the breaking ESPN report on the NIH study: . continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE:Brandi Winans informed us earlier today that Jeff Winans (Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1973 – 1978) had just passed away late last week. For those of you who might not know about Jeff and Brandi’s long battle with the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retired NFL Players Pension Plan over the years, we posted their story on our Players section earlier -clickHEREto read Jeff and Brandi’s battle with the NFL.The saddest part of Jeff and Brandi’s fight for his earned disability benefits is that it’s more common than fans and the general public realizes. As more and more players and their families continue to come forward to make their stories public, this is now being shown to be standard practice for the NFL and the NFLPA in always finding ways to consistently deny most retirees’ benefits. Here is Brandi’s most recent post: . Once in a while, someone walks into your life who takes your breathe away. Jeff Winans was the one who took mine away from the first time I saw him in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game program. My girlfriend introduced me to him a few weeks later at a local bar. He looked like a “Greek God” with his black curly hair and big smile – and eyes that you could get lost in. He made my heart pitter patter, it was love at first sight. I was Cinderella and he was my Prince Charming. . My Cinderella life ended a few years later when Jeff was disabled from football at 30. I went to work while fighting the NFL for his disability pension. Then after a horrific life-threatening gunshot accident, came the unexpected blessing of finding out I was pregnant with our only son, Travis. . With medical bills piling up and being the sole support of our family, came Bankruptcy, then surviving an earthquake during one of Jeff’s amputations, later surviving a recluse spider bite, another amputation, six back and neck surgeries, a torn patella, too much to go into: All of it made our love grow stronger every day because we had each other. . A few years later, progressive behavior problems – which we realized later were due to multiple NFL head injuries – tore us apart. But separation, an unexpected divorce, and living 3000 miles apart, couldn’t destroy the love we had for each other. He still made my heart pitter, patter. We took things slow, becoming best friends again, rekindling dreams we had left behind. I was still Cinderella and he was still my Prince Charming. With a move planned back here in the next few months, the love of our son and his new-found family, nothing could go wrong. . Then suddenly two days ago, Jeff was taken away from us. . Life is short. Tell your family and loved ones how much you love them every day. Don’t live with regrets. Life happens unexpectedly. . . Brandi Winans . .
Here’s something a little lighter to start the week. . I was going through more of my old files and ran across my original signing contract with the Baltimore Colts back in 1975. My first NFL contract was for 3 years: 1975 for $30,000; 1976 for $40,000; 1977 for $50,000. They also included a $30,000 signing bonus (!) over 3 years ($20,000 upon signing in 1975 and an additional $5,000 in 1976 and in 1977). I was subsequently traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then Hugh Culverhouse traded me off to the Oakland Raiders in 1979 after I had the nerve to ask for a raise! I played for two years with a broken neck with the Raiders when we won Super Bowl XV as the wild card team against the Eagles (Raiders 27 – Eagles 10). I was released by Al Davis after that year (more like kicked to the curb!). And yes – that’s a Riddell Helmet I’m wearing in my Topps card! . Since then, my family has gone through over $600,000 of our own money for my ongoing football-related medical expenses and surgeries with absolutely no reimbursement from the NFL and its various plans (other than the equivalent of two seat cushions and a $5.00 co-pay they sent me after my first hip surgery as part of their fantastic hip replacement program- clickHEREto read about it.) . We uploaded a copy of my first NFL contract to 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): . Dave Pear 1975 Baltimore Colts Contract .
Apparently, Hausfeld LLP has formally filed to withdraw from representing SOME of the lead plaintiffs in a class but he still wants to stay directly involved by representing the other plaintiffs (can you actually do that?!!). Then the presiding judge issued a Scheduling Order that appoints Dan Gustafson of Gustafson Gluek PLLC as Lead Settlement Counsel to represent the “class” without a further hearing or discussion. So if there is a class of retired football players being acknowledged, then why is there a gag order? Does this mean that your case can be settled without your approval? . We’ve just uploaded a copy of a new Notice of Withdrawal filed on Wednesday by Hausfeld LLP along with the Judge’s latest order to 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): . Hausfeld Notice of Withdrawal . USDC Minnesota Dec 12 2012 Scheduling Order – Dryer vs NFL .
So it all started last week with a letter we received from Bob Lurtsema that basically outlined his understanding of what had happened in a Settlement Conference on the NFL Films lawsuit that included: Several retired football players (and a few guys who weren’t), a whole lot of lawyers from the NFL and Hausfeld LLP, along with the original Plaintiff Attorneys Bob Stein, Tom Ward and several of the original Plaintiffs who hadn’t even been invited or flown in to the meeting by some of the attorneys.Thanks to the First Amendment that guarantees our right to Freedom of Speech, you can still read that original letter from Bob Lurtsema by clickingHERE. . We were happy to post Bob’s views online as we have generally done in the past with communications from so many other retired players; especially since it was an update that a lot of our readers have been trying to follow since the NFL Films lawsuit began last year. Well, 24 hours after we posted Bob’s overview, it seems that certain attorneys including the NFL’s lawyers decided they didn’t think the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) applied to our Blog. First, Dave received an e-mail from Hausfeld LLP with a copy of a gag order and a “DRAFT” copy of a letter warning all parties to the suit, signed by Michael Hausfeld and Charles Zimmerman from September. (Has anyone actually received a real copy of this letter or was it simply nothing more than a ‘DRAFT‘ that was circulated to intimidate or stop outsiders from talking about the case? Nothing – NOTHING – in the gag order even infers that the media or blogs are prohibited from gathering information on this case and publishing it.) Would some of you please read the very short gag order and tell us if you see anything specifically banning the media or outside parties from writing about any of this, as Hausfeld’s ‘DRAFT‘ warning seems to infer? PLEASE NOTE: Dave Pear is currently NOT a named Plaintiff in the NFL Films lawsuit and has NOT been invited to attend any of the discussions. .continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE:We received this first-hand report from retired player, Bob Lurtsema, who was one of the “uninvited players” who showed up last week along with Bob Stein and many of the Plaintiffs in the NFL Films lawsuit Status Conference. Each and every retired player needs to read Bob’s words of caution closely and send in their comments. . Fellow retired players - . I attended the court-ordered Status Conference in the Dryer v. NFL case on November 27 in Minneapolis to see what was up. What I saw was an attempted sell-out and ambush by the NFL and Michael Hausfeld to force Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs to accept the NFL’s offer. The NFL and Hausfeld tried to pit players against players. . Hausfeld brought along 10 or so non-Plaintiff retired players to support him. They were part of a secret group he organized to try to control the Dryer lawsuit payments. We discovered that one guy they brought in had never even been an NFL player! He paid for their travel but refused to pay for the original Plaintiffs’ travel as required by his retainer agreements with them. . The original Plaintiffs who started the case were not even allowed in Hausfeld’s player meeting. When all the plaintiff attorneys met with all the players there, I was surprised the Magistrate openly pushed for the NFL deal (a very low offer of $50 million total), cut off Bob Stein who pointed out major shortcomings to the deal and then let Hausfeld ramble on to try and sell it. Right after that meeting, Hausfeld rushed out to confer with the NFL lawyers. . The NFL-Hausfeld proposal, opposed by all original Plaintiffs (Fred Dryer, Jim Marshall, Joe Senser, Dan Pastorini, Elvin Bethea, Ed White) and Bob Stein, stunk to me. Under the NFL-Hausfeld proposal, NO player would be paid for using his rights …ever! Each retired player would give up all his NFL-related publicity rights forever and any money would only go to the neediest of player charity programs. The only ones getting paid are the lawyers! . The proposal didn’t even have a guaranteed payment amount since all costs of opt-out player lawsuits against the NFL will be paid out of the settlement money! A very small group of players (Hausfeld’s?) would also be put in control of where the money goes. All of us would have to release our publicity rights (pictures, film of play, autographs) forever – and except for possible charity payments – will get paid nothing in the future. The Licensing Agency it set up looks just like the NFL Alumni Program – which LOST $5 million. So I don’t see what we’re getting for giving up claims to what Stein described as “the multi-billion dollar NFL Films vault” and over $150 million/year the NFL makes from using us in NFL Films. . The NFL-Hausfeld proposal will pay $42 million (after $8 million in legal fees are paid) over 12 years, with all of it going only to charity programs. That amounts to under $15/month for each of the 20,000+ players whose rights would also be signed away. Of course, the lawyers would get paid $8 million up front immediately. Looks to me like each of us will gain absolutely nothing from the NFL-Hausfeld settlement and only the NFL and the lawyers win. No wonder Bob Stein and all the original Plaintiffs think it’s an inadequate deal. After all, over those 12 years when the NFL would be paying out about $3.5 million a year, they would make over $1.8 billion using us in NFL Films! After that, they would then pay nothing more and use our rights forever! . Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs all want a deal where every player who gives up his rights forever knows in advance what he would personally get for it, either in dollars or health care benefits …and that it should be enough to mean something. . I didn’t know why other players besides the Plaintiffs were there but it seemed they were trying to set up the illusion of a “support vote” from guys who were not even Plaintiffs, all without opening the meeting to ALL retired players, just to pressure the original Plaintiffs to go along. Other retired players did not even know about this Status Conference and I only heard about it at the last minute. Hausfeld’s guys were mostly for the deal but ALL the original Plaintiffs and Stein opposed it. I still don’t see the point of the Status Conference but I do see the NFL-Hausfeld deal as bogus and completely one-sided. . I am against accepting it and wanted all of you to know why. But it should be your own call to make. . Bob Lurtsema Baltimore Colts, New York Giants Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks 1967 – 1977 . .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Evan Weiner submitted a new piece from Grenada today discussing some of the NFL’s global expansion plans to continue the growth of their lucrative franchise outside of its monopolized American markets. Evan covers many of the reasons why there may be several hurdles the game itself needs to overcome but there’s also an Unintended Consequence from expanding to other countries where the NFL way of doing business won’t work. Our comments are at the bottom of this post. . Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner: THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS . BY EVAN WEINER COMMENTARY
We were just informed of a lawsuit/complaint recently filed by Dan Pastorini (1971 – 1983: Oilers, Raiders, Rams, Eagles) in Minnesota (requesting to be heard in Texas) against attorney Michael Hausfeld and his firm, Hausfeld LLP, for “breach of contract, legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” We obtained a copy of the suit from public records. . We’ve uploaded a copy of the lawsuit to 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): . Pastorini Breach of Contract and Malpractice Suit vs Hausfeld LLP .
. 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. . 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.) . 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? . 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): . Jimmie Giles vs Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan Final Ruling .