Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner: . . THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS . BY EVAN WEINER COMMENTARY . The NFL job audition includes making the “suicide squad” rather than the special teams squad .
May 11, 2013
Examiner . The National Football League is open for business again. Players are on the field showing coaches that they can indeed play football even though the season is months away. The players showcasing their talents aren’t the normal, everyday players. No – these guys on the field are young guys trying to catch the eye of a coach and make a team and it doesn’t matter if they are first round draft picks or free agents hoping to just get to a training camp in July. . Not much is said about the long term health of these guys; they are just anxious to play football. Another one-time former football player, George Sauer, Jr. passed away at 69 years of age this week from congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease. There may be some unintentional irony in Sauer’s passing from Alzheimer’s disease as he walked away from the New York Jets and the National Football League after the 1970 season because he found pro football dehumanizing and it “both glorifies and destroys bodies” as he described in a 1983 article in the New York Times. . Sauer was a wide receiver. . The young guys trying to impress the coaches in all likelihood never heard of George Sauer. But they probably know Tedy Bruschi who played for the New England Patriots (1996 – 2008) and is now a football commentator on ESPN. .continue reading »
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. .
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 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. .
. 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). .
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. . 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 »
Wow! A lot has happened in the past week as we’ve been preparing for our upcoming Conference! We’re edging closer to the vote on AB 1309 in California which will disqualify most professional athletes from Workers Compensation claims in the state.(ClickHEREto read the actual bill that’s coming up for a vote as early as next week.) . More news is coming out about Riddell’s prior knowledge about helmet safety and real their lack of protection from concussions.(ClickHEREto read the latest piece from PBS Frontline.) . And the behind-the-scenes story is also now emerging about the fight for Junior Seau’s brain after he committed suicide.(ClickHEREto read that article also on PBS Frontline.) . Then we have the NFL Alumni pushing a wide press release about a new miracle drug that will not only be an antidepressant but also possibly heal your brain with new stem cells. Only problem is that this drug is from a relatively new company that’s only beginning early-stage trials that only require a few participants and not the thousands that the Alumni (NFL) seems to be wanting to enlist for some strange reason. Retired players will need all the information they can get if they’re to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate in this – or any drug trial – as we continue to move forward with the concussion lawsuits. . And the NFL Films lawsuit will now be moving into the notification stage to all players involved in the class. We’ll be having representatives from both sides of the Settlement Offer to present their arguments on Saturday so you can make an informed decision. . We’ll be covering each of these new topics with experts from their fields at our IFV Conference. Watch for live posts and videos during the two days of discussions. And if you can make it down to Las Vegas, we can promise this will be the most informative two days that retired football players won’t want to miss. . Watch this Blog for more details. .
EDITOR’S NOTE April 16, 2013: As many of you may have noticed, the original audio we posted was cut short to around 49 minutes. We’ve just added the second portion of 23 minutes and now have the entire 1 hour-13 minute hearing in one file below. . For those of you who couldn’t make your way into a VERY crowded courtroom, we have an audio transcript of most of the arguments presented to US District Court Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia PA last Tuesday, April 9, 2013. Presenting on behalf of the Players/Plaintiffs is attorney David Frederick and presenting for the NFL is attorney Paul Clement. (Just click the PLAY arrow to start the 49-minute recording. You can also download a copy of the MP3 file for listening later simply by right-clicking ‘Download‘ under the player and saving a copy to your computer.) . It will be weeks – if not months – before Judge Brody makes a ruling on whether the lawsuits can proceed to the next stage or be dismissed. But based on what both sides presented in this key hearing and some of the judge’s remarks and questions, we think the players’ attorney hit it out of the park! . You can also read an overview of the hearing from Associated Press by clickingHERE. . Our 2013 IFV Conference Concussion Lawsuit Panel will bring everyone up to date on the latest developments in the suit and will be answering any questions our audience will have for them! You don’t want to miss it! Make your reservations today so you can get the best airfare and room rates before the discounts expire this Tuesday - click HERE! .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today, we’re announcing two more of our Concussion Lawsuit panelists. A reminder: There is NO attendance fee for retired players and their guests and approved media (and we still won’t be playing golf either!). But you have to book your travel arrangements NOW and register for your admission badges before rates go up. Links to signing up are at the end of this post. . By way of introduction, most retired players know that for decades, the NFL has not only been denying the connection between concussions and long-term brain damage but they went so far as to aggressively put up a campaign to not only discredit scientific papers by professionals like Dr. Omalu but they also funded their own phony MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Committee with co-chairs that included the infamous Ira Dr. No Casson. Then a couple of years ago, the NFL funded Sports Legacy Institute’s long-term study of CTE (after denying it) with a $1 million grant with the caveat that “But we won’t have complete studies for many years because no one can detect CTE in a live brain.” Of course, the game changer is that earlier this year, a new CAT scan technique was announced that could detect CTE in live subjects (Dr. Omalu will be addressing this at our Conference). But not to be outdone by the NFL throwing $30 million at the NIH after Junior Seau’s tragic suicide, the NFLPA announced a $100 MILLION grant for further brain studies at Harvard (all with money that could have gone to retired players, of course). With this kind of collusion, it’s small wonder that the NFL is doing another slow reverse to once again deny the link between concussions and long-term brain damage. Worse still, with all the flip-flops, the NFL is going to use a last-ditch effort in the courts to argue that this issue was covered under the current – and past – Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) and their fraud and coverups shouldn’t even be tried in a court of law in front of a judge and a jury! Yeah right – like long-term fraud and deception on your former employees are covered under a CBA! . Now it comes out that two of the people who recently did consulting work with one of the Philadelphia law firms involved with the NFL concussion litigation have also been working with the NFL. . Are any of you still convinced that the NFL has players’ best interests on their minds? (Well, maybe Deion Sanders and Herschel Walker…) .continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re completing our schedule for our upcoming Third Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference once again at the South Point Resort in Las Vegas next month May 3 – 5. We’re going to start posting announcements about our list of prominent panelists who will be flying in to speak and interact with our attendees. Today, we’re very excited to officially announce one of our Brain Injury panelists. As always, there is no attendance fee for retired players and their guests and approved media (and we won’t be playing golf either!). But you have to book your travel arrangements NOW and register for your admission badges before rates go up. Links to signing up are at the end of this post. . The term most used today in football brain injuries is CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. More and more of you retired players have been reading and hearing this term used in the concussion lawsuits and sports reporting as it continues to make its way into our daily conversations. For those of you still unfamiliar with the terms CTE and tau protein, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: . “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease, which can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. It has also been found in soldiers exposed to a blast or a concussive injury, in both cases resulting in characteristic degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Individuals with CTE may show symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, which generally appear years or many decades after the trauma. .continue reading »
. Here’s a more detailed overview of the Discussion Panels we’re planning out for our upcoming IFV Conference at the South Point Resort in Las Vegas May 3- 5. You really don’t want to miss this Conference – book your flight and hotel room today while the rates are still low and then register for your free admission passes by clickingHERE. . FOOTBALL: THE LONG-TERM IMPACT ON NFL FAMILIES . Our Football Family Panel will include retired players and their families in an open discussion on how football has affected your lives off the field. All too many players and their families have gone through divorces and financial difficulties after their football careers ended and only now are we beginning to realize the impact that concussion issues may have played. .continue reading »
In their recent all-but-done NFL Films Settlement Offer, the NFL flashed another possible “benefit” that most players will probably never see or access in their collective lifetimes. The majority of retired players have yet to receive any real benefits from all those slick PR benefits programs offered in the past – why would one more program simply intended to avoid paying any real money to the players be different with this new deal? As part of the ongoing negotiations, perhaps Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith – along with all of their staff at the NFL and the NFLPA – should be asked to switch over their entire medical and retirement benefits to programs exactly like that offered to the men who made their jobs possible. What do you think they’d say about that? If their offer was such a good deal why wouldn’t they take the same benefits over 8 years? . In one more typical example of life after football, we’re posting another slideshow of what happens to all too many players after they leave the game: Dave went in for his 15th (or was it his 16th?) surgery yesterday. This time it was to widen his spinal canal in a procedure that uses new laser technology. None of this is covered by any NFL disability or healthcare plans – nor has it ever been covered in the past. Just one more work-related injury that my former employer, the NFL, won’t pay for. . We have a full-color gallery of shots taken before and during the entire operation. (WARNING: Not for the squeamish!) Dr. Mark Freeborn along with his entire team and the staff at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland are to be commended for an overall great surgical experience for Dave and Heidi! Dave made it home yesterday afternoon and is looking at a two-week recovery now. .
. You can scroll through the pictures by clicking on the left- and right- arrows on the sides of each picture or you can select slideshow at the bottom. .
. 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).
Like the old saying goes, “Charity Begins at Home.” Americans are among the most generous people in the world. Recently, a list was published that actually listed some of the top nonprofits in America and the compensation that their respective CEO’s collected for leading those organizations. It was an eye-opener to see that the CEO’s of certain so-called nonprofits were paid in the millions annually, while others only collected token salaries more in line with their charitable missions. For example, the former head of the Boy Scouts of America was paid over $1 million while the COO of the American Cancer Society almost made $1 million last year. In contrast, the head of the Salvation Army took home a relatively paltry $130,000. . Here’s a snapshot from Charity Watch showing some of their Top 25 Nonprofit CEO Salaries: . . The top salary on this list from 2012 was $2 million+ to Peter Cordeiro who heads the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.You can view the rest of the chart by clicking HERE. . And how much closer to home than Roger Goodell and the NFL? It’s only becoming more widely known that the NFL operates as a 501 (c) 6 nonprofit, with all the special benefits that a nonprofit enjoys. And keep in mind that many years ago, they also received an antitrust exemption from Congress. .continue reading »
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. .
Deion Sanders doubts NFL’s concussion problem, says former players are looking for payday