USAToday: Chargers 'devastated' by ex-DB Paul Oliver's suicide at 29    League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, will air on FRONTLINE on October 8 & 15. Check your local listings    LA Times: Deion Sanders, critic of NFL concussion suits, seeks workers' comp    FOXSports: NFL, players reach proposed $765M settlement of concussion-related lawsuits    Sean Pamphilon's United States of Football in theaters starting Aug 23rd!    Washington Post: Do no harm: Who should bear the costs of retired NFL players’ medical bills?    You can catch all the posts and videos from our recent Third Annual Football Veterans Conference - everything now posted here on Dave's Blog!

Patrick Hruby: Don’t Settle

18 September 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of the more insightful pieces on the proposed settlement offer from NFL to the retired players’ concussion lawsuits. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick Hruby.
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Don’t Settle
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Settle for Less
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Eleanor Perfetto watched her husband shrivel, and she watched him die. Near the end, Ralph Wenzel was a husk: a once strapping and energetic 225-pound former National Football League lineman, down to 145 pounds, eating mashed-up doughnuts, unable to walk or bathe himself, his mind unraveled by dementia. He was posthumously diagnosed with both Alzheimers and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the latter neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head; a scientist who examined his 69-year-old brain said it had shrunk to the approximate size of an infant’s. Wenzel’s dissolution was slow. Horrific. So Perfetto understands. Understands the pain. Understands the relief over the proposed $765 million settlement of the NFL concussion lawsuits, the eagerness to assist the former players in the most dire need — and their families, too — while calling off a long, draining legal fight.
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Still, Perfetto can’t help but feel torn. Torn that the league is just walking away, cash left on the nightstand. Admitting nothing.
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“This is a positive step, good for the players and families that need help now,” says Perfetto, a senior director at Pfizer and one of the over 4,600 former players and their family members who have sued the NFL. “But I’m very disappointed that the league gets to continue to deny the relationship between head injury and the illnesses that we see. They’re not taking on any culpability. And we will never know the timeline of just how long they have known this and the extent of them blocking it as much as they could. That will be kept secret unless some whistleblower comes forward in the future.”
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When it comes to mixed feelings, Perfetto is hardly alone. Former All-Pro defensive back Bruce Laird worries that the settlement won’t be large enough to cover the brain trauma-related medical needs of all current and future players. Retired linebacker Scott Fujita believes that full NFL disclosure – what, exactly, did the league’s executives and denialist doctors know, and when did they first know it? – is a public health matter. Retired lineman Kevin Mawae likens the pending deal totaking it 99 yards, but not getting that last yard” and taking “a little bit of our milk money back” from a schoolyard bully while getting a “promise that he won’t touch us again.” On the other hand, all three former players — Laird is a plaintiff in the lawsuits; Mawae and Fujita are not — are pleased that peers like former NFL fullback and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis sufferer Kevin Turner will receive concrete financial assistance sooner rather than later. For that matter, so is Turner: in a recent USA Today editorial, he wrote that many of us also feared that a resolution would take years. That this agreement happened so quickly lifts an enormous burden off of our shoulders. We will get the care and security we need now, without being forced to wait for years of litigation to work its course. Indeed, NFL executives, plaintiff’s lawyers and mediator Layn Phillips all have framed the pending settlement as a choice between competing goals: plaintiffs can push for more money and evidence of league wrongdoing via a bruising court battle that could last years, or they can help men like Turner as quickly as possible. They cannot do both.
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Or can they?
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To borrow Mawae’s metaphor, the concussion plaintiffs don’t have to take a knee at the goal line. Nor do they have to abandon their brothers in need. They can help men such as Turner and continue to fight. They don’t need to take a crummy deal. They can demand something better. They should demand something better. They have more potential resources — more potential leverage — than commonly believed.
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Now is not the time to settle.
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Start with the money. Suppose retired players had as much as $493.7 million available to them over the next eight years, earmarked for medical care and financial assistance. Would that change the settlement equation? Guess what: this money isn’t hypothetical. It’s real. Available now. Available since last year. A pot of cash hiding in plain sight, roughly equivalent to the $495 million NFL is scheduled to dole out over the first eight years of the proposed deal.
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Pull up the league’s current collective bargaining agreement. Go to page 78. Look for Section 5: Joint Contribution Amount. You’ll find an annual fiscal carve-out from the players’ share of football revenues, starting at $55 million in 2012 and increasing at compounded rate of five percent annually through 2020. Who controls this money? Where is it going? That’s where things get interesting. And frankly, a bit curious. According to the CBA:.

  • $22 million “shall be dedicated to healthcare or other benefits, funds, or programs for retired players as determined by the NFLPA”;
  • $11 million “shall be dedicated to medical research, as agreed to by the parties”;
  • $22 million “shall be dedicated to charities as determined by the NFL, including NFL Charities and/or Youth Football or successor organizations.”

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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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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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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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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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NFL and NFLPA’s labor woes may not be over yet

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Tuesday, 02 August 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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The National Football League owners have a labor agreement with the present members of the reconstituted National Football League Players Association but it appears that the league still has problems with the players association’s stance on not helping out former players with their medical needs years after their last game in the league. The league apparently informed Carl Eller’s legal team on Friday that the-then decertified National Football League Players Association decided not to take a $500 million offer over ten-years to get retirees life football medical benefits and an uptick in pensions as part of the recently completed collective bargaining agreement.
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Thanks again to the good folks at Gridiron Greats for providing a new air conditioning system for Glendora and Gordon Wright who were facing another incredibly hot Summer and Fall in Orlando Florida!
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Left to Right: Danny, Kaleel, Darryl, Kaleb, Grandpa,Deleon, Kareem, Amaya, Luis & Khari!
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We are also in the process of taking all the donations that have come in to our nonprofit, Independent Football Veterans, on behalf of the Wrights and expect to pass along your generosity to the Wrights later this week! But this is just one more reminder of why retired football players need to stick together and fight for a voice to gain control and access to your earned disability and pension benefits. As a pre-’93 player, Gordon doesn’t qualify for any disability or pension benefits since he didn’t play for four seasons. With early onset dementia, Gordon also doesn’t qualify for the NFL’s 88 Plan either.
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If you haven’t already added your name to the growing list of teammates who are demanding a voice of your own, please do it now! And be sure to remind every retired player you know. Thanks!
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Retired Football Players Stand Together!
  • By providing my name and e-mail address, I am hereby adding myself to this growing list of retired football players.

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Dear Mr. Pear,
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I am sending you this message tonight because I am on my last raw nerve. The Wrights’ story prompted me to reach out to others like us.
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I believe you may have already seen some correspondence about my husband, Terry Owens – San Diego Chargers ten years as #76. Terry is a big man, a proud man. We lost his business earlier this year but were actually blessed because we should have lost it much sooner – State Farm stepped up.
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Terry has gone downhill fast. He’s now on the 88 plan. I can’t keep up with him – even with full-time help. We do not need anything financially. YET. But we do need communication and support. I could never have imagined how hard this would be and I pride myself on being a strong cookie. We are living in Crazyland every day!
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Fortunately, Terry is just as sweet as he has always been. But two of us chase him all day long. He has several self-inflicted wounds: eye, thumb, nose. Minor but of concern. He thinks he’s holding something in his hand all day – nothing there but his hand is clasped. It’s crazy. Even two of us cannot keep up. Last night, I went to take a shower and I forgot to lock the front door. Within 10 minutes he was outside with the TV remote in his hand along with 4 or 5 books (anything he could get his hands on) and in his bare feet walking down a long driveway to get into a neighbor’s mailbox! And Terry cannot go into an assisted living facility at this stage as he’s beyond that and needs round-the-clock supervision to keep him from hurting himself or getting into trouble.
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Feel free to post our dilemma on your blog. Others need to know just how bad it is and how ill-prepared we are for all of this. I’m also hoping that others in similar situations will get in touch with me so we can provide support for each other.
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Please count me in on the fight for retired football players’ rights.
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Dave, I thank you,
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Respectfully,
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Alison Owens
on behalf of Terry and all the other men who are now suffering from their concussions
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(256) 221-0043
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS .
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
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Portions of this column are by Evan Weiner and Heather Rascher from ”A Business History of Professional Football,” unpublished manuscript (2005).
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The biggest game on the NFL season starts on April 6 when National Football League owners and the remnants of the now defunct National Football League Players Association face off in a Minneapolis courtroom. In a script that looks like a sequel to the days after the National Football League Players Association imploded in October 1987 when the NFLPA decided to sue NFL owners for free agency, the NFLPA is back in a Minneapolis courthouse and suing NFL owners. Ten players, including one college player who was not even a part of the defunct NFLPA, Von Miller, are suing the league in an antitrust action hoping the court will lift the owners lockout.
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Miller’s name is on the suit but he is planning to attend the National Football League Draft, an act that restricts the freedom of college players in finding jobs. The only reason the draft is legal is through collective bargaining. The owners and players have agreed to a draft. Miller plans to be in the courtroom while New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, one of the 10 plaintiffs, will not attend the opening day festivities. Brees will be at a golf fundraiser.
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Brees last week sounded a conciliatory note to retired and discarded players after being blasted by Sam Huff for criticizing former players who are down and out because of football related injuries. Brees apparently learned well from the late Gene Upshaw (who was the NFLPA Executive Director) who once said that the association could not worry about every problem. While the NFL and the NFLPA duke it out in Minneapolis, the former NFLPA may be involved in another action as former New Orleans and Miami defensive back Gene Atkins is suing the NFL’s retirement board after being denied additional health benefits by the group which included the late Dave Duerson. The former defensive back, Duerson, was on the board which said ‘no’ to Atkins’ football degenerative claim in 2006. Duerson’s suicide in February 2011 raises questions according to the brief filed about Duerson’s competence in light of statements that came out after the suicide that he had memory loss and difficulties spelling words.
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

By Evan Weiner

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Roger and De in the Land of Oz

Roger and De in the Land of Oz

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As is often the case, it started with this short note we received from Elizabeth Pierce last week:

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My father was a former NFL player who passed away after 20 years of dementia.

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When it comes to dealing with its senior retired players, it seems that the NFL and the NFLPA have consistently been running on a strategy of doing too little too late. And that’s the only thing they seem to do consistently. First, concussions couldn’t possibly cause any long-term problems. Then, they decided they DO cause long-term damage (but only to active players!), so they fired Dr. No and quickly created all those new rules and fancy posters warning all the current players about the dangers of concussions. Those new rules came all the way down from the Commissioner’s office and – if followed to the letter – would completely change the game of football. Even a lot of the players have come forward to point out how ridiculous and confusing this has become – all in a short span of just a few weeks. Sheesh!

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Gregg Bingham here. I sure love this blog and I read it every time I get notified of a new post. I’m always amazed to read about the carnage left behind after a career in the NFL and I – like most all others (including active players and fans) – had absolutely no idea about any of it. BUT I DO NOW…

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Dealing with Bureaucrats

3 September 2010

Sometimes you just have to shake your head and laugh when a situation gets so ridiculous and absolutely everyone else can see it except the very people who should be able to see it. Yesterday, Dr. Ken Stoller submitted the first part of his series on HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) and how the treatment for George Visger and Wayne Hawkins has been progressing. When you read Part II today, you’ll realize that Dr. Stoller is now also getting a taste of the typical bureaucratic runaround that retired players have been encountering for years.

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