I have some more questions about the narrowing slate of NFLPA Executive Director candidates: What law school or business school did any of the 3 or 4 former NFLPA presidents graduate from? What do they know about disability Law? What union management experience do they have?
Here we are coming in to a New Year and looking behind us at how much has happened in the past year. We’ve seen a recent flurry of comments and e-mails among a lot of the retired players discussing the current state of affairs within the NFLPA, not the least of which has been the disability benefits and the ongoing selection process for a new Executive Director. And the Commissioner keeps on rolling from city-to-city attempting to put on his dog-and-pony show about his compassionate concern for the disabled players. Wow! It’s been quite a year.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Traveling Snow Job – er, Snow Show – will be arriving in Newport Beach CA on Jan. 14th, 2009. And, of course, even after major media coverage and objections by the majority of retired players and their families, it’s still a closed meeting. No spouses, no caregivers, no representatives and no media once again. However, traveling along with the Commissioner will be his lawyer, Harold Henderson, and probably a couple of his PR flaks to make sure no one misspeaks.
Michael-Louis Ingram over at Black Athlete Sports Network just wrote an excellent piece titled, The Greatest GAME Ever Played? The story starts with ESPN’s recent replay of the legendary 1958 National Football League game between Baltimore Colts and New York Giants (digitally-enhanced AND colorized from black-and-white!).
Ingram’s article recognizes the contribution that those early players made to the game in getting it to where it is today. In fact, he compares the NFL’s phenomenal growth to IBM. Ingram’s story goes on to provide a good, short overview on that recent NFLPA/Players Inc. trial. His closing paragraphs pretty much sum things up and we’re looking forward to BASN’s ongoing investigation:
More keeps coming out on the touchy-feely meetings that Commissioner Goodell has been conducting with the “Alliance” in league cities across the country. The first meeting held in Dallas ended with Disability Attorney being invited – and then uninvited – by John Wooten (read about that HERE) and as revealed in a series of interesting e-mails that followed the meeting (read about that HERE). Then a dull second meeting in Chicago and a more interesting one last week in Baltimore. The spouses of several players with dementia confronted the Commissioner outside of the meeting room about being denied a voice in the process. And then the New York Times backed it up with the revelation that it was the Alliance who decided to close the meetings to everyone except retired players (read about that HERE and HERE).
Behind the scenes, there’s been a flurry of e-mails and phone calls between the retired players and some members of the “Alliance,” discussing and rationalizing the secret decision to keep the meetings closed. And lots and lots of backpedaling and finger-pointing. We’ve got one interesting exchange that came from Alliance member John Wooten trying once again to explain his way out of another ridiculous situation. Tony Davis’ response is first and Wooten’s e-mail follows at the end. Tony is expressing an opinion that the majority of retired players all seem to share. So why weren’t the other players even consulted before the Big Brother Alliance decided for them?
A quick note on this Monday morning just to let our readers know that there’s been a huge offline discussion among the retired players over the weekend regarding who can or can’t attend those meetings that Commissioner Goodell has been announcing in various NFL cities.
With all due respect to Stan and Jan Berenstain, this classic children’s book pretty much sums it up:
Most people probably don’t even remember the cartoon strip Pogo from the 40s through the 80s but that little cartoon possum from Walt Kelly had some of the best lines ever written. My favorite Pogo line?
Dave sure gets some interesting phone calls. Remember the gunshot call just before Gene Upshaw left the scene? (Read that post by clicking HERE.) We’re happy to say those kinds of calls have stopped.
But with the letter-writing campaign to AON Corp. and its CEO Gregory Case, it’s been lots and lots of correspondence. (Click HERE to read the original letter that started it all.) We’ve probably been responsible for killing a small forest. Dave’s been getting letters from pretty much everyone EXCEPT Mr. Case and their attorneys; instead, they’ve taken to writing everyone else except Dave, including the Attorneys General of Washington, New York and Connecticut, among others. Why, Dave even got a letter from Larry Lamade of Akin Gump, the NFL’s attorneys. Everyone writes letters and it creates a great paper trail so everyone knows what’s going on.
Disability Attorney John Hogan has gone above and beyond in his efforts to help the retired disabled players. John has recently helped several players with their re-applications under this year’s disability plan. (You can read more about John by visiting his website by clicking HERE.) In case anyone doesn’t understand fiduciary responsibility and the legal and moral responsibility it carries with it:
As most of you now know, Bernie Parrish played a key role in the successful players’ litigation against the NFLPA and Players Inc. in San Francisco. Around the same time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced what appeared to be a groundbreaking tour to NFL host cities to hear about what the retired players truly want to see happen for them. Unfortunately, as we soon discovered, it’s been nothing more than a transparent PR scam to generate the illusion that they’re actually doing something. While Goodell shows up dragging along his personal entourage that includes the like of Harold Henderson (general counsel) and the NFL PR flaks, the players themselves are told that they can’t bring anyone to the meetings. No counsel, no doctors, not even caregivers or spouses. So disability experts like John Hogan were not even allowed to attend that first meeting in Dallas (he was uninvited by the likes of Harold Henderson AFTER he was invited and flew there at his own expense). (Click HERE and HERE and HERE to read about that first meeting and the fallout after.) And it goes on. The second meeting in Chicago was even worse; it was announced with short notice, few retired players showed up and their stories were all the same. And oh yes – no one was allowed into the “meeting” except retired players.
Now there’s another meeting scheduled for Baltimore on December 11th at 6:30 at the Doubletree Hotel. And yep – absolutely no one allowed to attend except retired players. So if you’re a retired player – dead or alive – you’re invited to show up and speak your mind!
Wow! What’s a poor guy have to do just to get one straight answer around here?
When Dave sent of that letter to AON Corp. President/CEO Gregory Case (click HERE to read that post), we also made sure to CC: copies to several state Attorneys General as well as state Insurance Commissioners who may have direct or indirect jurisdiction over such matters. The responses are still coming in and one of the more interesting ones came from Connecticut State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (click HERE to read his letter) who stated, “I agree with you that you should have received a copy of your disability policy describing the benefits and obligations that pertain to beneficiaries.”
With everything Gene Upshaw and the NFLPA touched over the past 25 years, you can always expect it to be like peeling an onion: There’s one new surprise after another as you peel away the layers and it’ll bring tears to your eyes with each layer.
When Judge Allsup’s decision was announced in November, most of the retired players were elated to hear about a hard-fought victory that was years in the making. (Click HERE to read that earlier post.) But it didn’t take long for more and more retired players to realize that they weren’t on the final GLA (Group Licensing Assignment) list that was released at the end of the trial. At first, we thought that perhaps a few of the players had simply not signed and/or returned their GLA’s. And the more players who wrote in, the more we realized that many of them had never even received GLA’s at all over the years.
Maybe it’s the Thanksgiving weekend coming up or maybe the retired players’ disability problems are finally coming to the forefront in the media. Right after the St. Petersburg piece came out on Dave, Jim Baumbach wrote a story on Wesley Walker (New York Jets) in Newsday. Some clips from the story: