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!

Even Judge Judy would agree!

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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.
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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.)
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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?
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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):
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Jimmie Giles vs Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan Final Ruling
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of you may remember Andrew Stewart’s long battle to access his earned Disability Benefits from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan. He ended up taking them to court. You can read the earlier posts by clicking HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. All from 2010!
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Hi Dave,
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Here is an update along with some shocking comments from my court case with the NFLPA in Federal Court.
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After many years and delays, we finally reached our court date which was last Monday. My lawyer was there and the Plan sent several lawyers AND their secretaries.
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Their whole argument was not that they were right but that they are and should be afforded discretion under the law. They stated before the judge that Dr. Bach was on “Their Team” and the judge questioned whether they really wanted to say that. Even though Dr. Bach had never examined me, never treated me and didn’t even bother to see any of the X-rays of my injuries, he still decided that in his medical opinion, “It was not even close” as to whether I was disabled or not held more weight than any detailed medical evaluation that their neutral examining doctor could give.
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“Not even close.” Would you trust your doctor if he chose to only write that as his evaluation to any illness or injury you personally suffered? They also stated that they basically did me a favour by putting me on the lower amount and that I should grateful. (!)
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Doug Ell, the lawyer for the Plan, stated in court that one of the reasons they couldn’t pay every player the higher amount was that the Plan has to watch its bottom line since they have to make sure there’s enough money for players such as Brett Favre. It is important to state that during testimony, it was also disclosed that the Plan currently has over a billion dollars in assets. So apparently, we’re valued differently by the NFL: Not for your vested seasons or your injuries but maybe by how many more jerseys you can sell and your commercial appeal!
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In the end, the judge decided that he wanted briefs filed by the end of March and he would then rule.
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Although the NFLPA’s lawyers felt that this judge is not what they call “a plan-friendly judge” as they have stated to my lawyer, I feel that the judge is very fair and is taking this case very seriously because there are just too many instances where they are not following their own rules as laid out by the Plan and – depending on the case – they’re prepared to change them accordingly.
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Sincerely,
Andrew Stewart
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ADDENDUM FROM IRV MUCHNICK MARCH 7th:

Dave Duerson’s Bankruptcy and Andrew Stewart’s Case Against the NFL Retirement Plan

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First the serious stuff: One more helmet concussion lawsuit filed in California by Hausfeld LLP and Pearson Simon Warshaw & Penny LLP, on behalf of Cedrick Hardman and Tommy Mason against the NFL, Riddell and Easton-Bell. The two Exhibits include proposals for medical monitoring and benefits after a career in football.
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And we’re not letting the NFLPA off the hook today either: Here’s another good reason for retired players to manage and administer their own benefits: Be sure to read about the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimburse lobby at the end of this post! Oh well – Another day, another $100,000!
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Duerson Apparently Did Not Review Andrew Stewart NFL Disability Claim

Posted with the express consent of Irv Muchnick:
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Published September 10th, 2011
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On August 16, FoxSports.com’s Alex Marvez broke the story of a lawsuit against the National Football League’s Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan, in federal court in Maryland, by retired player Andrew Stewart. I discussed the case on my Concussion Blog – click HERE.
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The premise of Marvez’s piece aligned with an important investigative angle of this blog: that the Stewart suit might reveal more about the work on the disability claims review board of Dave Duerson. But it turns out that, while Stewart’s attorneys have made a lot of progress in getting scrutiny in open court of the board’s inner workings – a very good thing – Duerson himself did not participate in the deliberations of Stewart’s particular case in August of last year.
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The three NFL Players Association representatives on the board for Stewart’s review were Andre Collins, Robert Smith, and Jeff Van Note. “I do not know why Duerson was not on the Board that day,” Stewart attorney Michael Rosenthal e-mailed me.
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According to John Hogan, who represents many retired players from his disability law practice in Georgia, retirement board members occasionally designate others as proxies, and that is probably what happened here. The whole process is mysterious and secretive, which is why we need the drip-drip-drip of additional cases to break down the NFL and NFLPA’s limestone wall. (The judge in the Stewart case has set a trial date, though he has not yet ruled on whether to permit live testimony. But the court seems to be leaning that way.)
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As I’ve said many times, perhaps the most tumultuous litigation for the football-concussion system isn’t by professionals. Rather, it involves youth athletes and the financial exposure of public schools for disabling injury and wrongful death. Without tackle football mania at the grassroots, the $10-billion-a-year NFL cannot recruit, inculcate, and thrive. We already know of one lawsuit in New Jersey by the family of a kid who died from a second concussion after being cleared to return to play – with the help of NFL and World Wrestling Entertainment witch doctor Joseph Maroon’s “ImPACT concussion management” software.
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Irvin Muchnick is author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (2009) and WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal (2007). He is a widely published magazine journalist and has appeared on forums as diverse as Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor,” National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” and ESPN’s “Up Close.” Muchnick is lead respondent in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for freelance writers’ rights, Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick.
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BeyondChron contributor Irvin Muchnick has launched his new website and blog “Concussion Inc.”. You can also find Irv on Twitter at http://twitter.com/irvmuch.
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Well, the floodgates are opening wider and wider. Sports Legacy Institute and Boston University held a press conference this past Monday to announce their findings on the late Dave Duerson’s brain examination. To no one’s surprise, they discovered the presence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain.
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Former NFL player Dave Duerson found to have had brain damage

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Top Ten NFL Questions

It looks like the latest Congressional hearings into brain concussions in the NFL will be starting this Wednesday, October 28th. From all the preliminary announcements, it appears that only two people have been officially announced to testify: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. So far, no experts such as neurosurgeons and brain scientists have been announced to testify. We have to wonder who called this hearing on such short notice and why now just as the 2010 lockout is looming and brain concussions have taken center stage in the retired players’ battle for independent representation. With a hat tip to all those other Top 10 Lists out there, we’ve come up with a simple list of the Top 10 Questions that Congress should be asking of Goodell and Smith directly.

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Nothing New Today

12 May 2009

Time Flies Clock

How time flies. It’s been over 6 months since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell first announced his tour back in September to hear all about retired players’ grievances. (That story first appeared HERE.) You may remember that this tour was announced with great fanfare and press last year as Roger Goodell’s opportunity to speak and listen to the retired players across the country. If the reports have been accurate, it sounds like the Commish managed to visit a staggering 6 NFL cities out of a total of 32 teams (?!!) before all press releases stopped.

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Our good friend and player advocate, disability attorney John Hogan, was able to attend that Symposium held at the Baltimore School of Law on Thursday. Here are his notes from that day:

Notes from

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Dave Pear

Well, after weeks of calling and calling and leaving messages with the Alliance offices for Sarah Gaunt, I finally received a package on Tuesday, April 1, 2008 from the NFL Player Benefits Office out of Baltimore. When I had called their offices last Thursday, CJ told me to leave a message for a “Rosemary” and that she would call me back later in the day. I never heard back from anyone through the weekend and the next thing you know, this package shows up on April Fools Day! (Click on images to enlarge for reading.)

My FedEx Tracking Receipt

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