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!

BREAKING: From the Associated Press and just released on FOX Sports:
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FOX Sports

NFL, players reach proposed $765M settlement of concussion-related lawsuits

Published August 29, 2013
Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA – The NFL and more than 4,500 former players want to resolve concussion-related lawsuits with a $765 million settlement that would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research, a federal judge said Thursday.
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The plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. They also include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
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Many of you may remember Andrew Stewart’s disability case that took nearly two years to get to court after it was first filed in 2010. They won the case resoundingly in June of this year, topped with a scathing ruling from Judge William Quarles who presided over the entire hearing. You may even recall the doctor the NFL called in to do a second opinion on Andrew’s injuries when they weren’t happy with the first doctor that they also chose. Without so much as seeing Andrew or reviewing his x-rays, he declared Andrew’s injuries to be totally unrelated to football. Then in the last paragraph, he reminds the Plan to send him another $500 check for his additional “review.” (You can read all of our earlier posts covering his case by clicking HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.) FOX Sports A.J. Perez also covered the ruling in an article from June written right after the case closed:
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Stewart wins suit, earns NFL pension

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First, some news and the intro: Retired players lost Round 1 in their battle to wrest control of their pensions and benefits away from the NFLPA. In her final motion filed last week in Minnesota court, Judge Nelson dismissed the Eller et al lawsuit brought against the NFLPA, Tom Brady and Mike Vrabel. That said, much of the motion left several issues open that will allow Hausfeld LLP and Zelle Hofmann to file an appeal shortly. What continues to be unclear is how the NFLPA could actually declare that they had negotiated retired players benefits when they were decertified as Union during the lockout last year. Magically, retired players benefits were negotiated in the short period after the Union recertified and then announced the shiny new CBA they had finalized. Got that? More analysis on this development in a future post.
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Someone once said not long ago that George Martin’s ascension to the Executive Directorship of the NFL Alumni was the perfect example of the American Dream. In reality, honesty and integrity will always get you where you need to go in following the real American Dream. The old adage, “The people you pass on the way up the ladder will be the same people you run into on the way down” should hold true here.
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We also want to ask Commissioner Goodell if he plans to hold George Martin and Ron George to the same high standard of full accountability that he imposed on the New Orleans Saints players during his bounty investigation? In the real game of life, there is no room for double standards, Mr. Commissioner. But in real life, it’s not going to be game suspensions. People’s lives have been totally disrupted or even destroyed as a consequence of George Martin’s actions – or inactions. Spending money like a drunken sailor – particularly when it’s not yours to spend – is a recipe for disaster. We wonder if brain damage is now going to be the excuse?
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Here’s the story from A.J. Perez FOX Sports:
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Ex-Giant Martin resigns as NFLAA boss

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We have recently read the expose of George Martin and the NFL Alumni Association written by A. J. Perez and Alex Marvez for FOX Sports. We have also read the accounts of the Alumni’s press conference from the Super Bowl; and of their Board of Directors’ support for George Martin.
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I am not a former player and often wonder why and how I got involved in their issues. However, getting to know – and work with – many retired players over the past few years has been a personal and professional highlight of my life and career. I am proud to call many retired players my friends and most of them are a tremendous source of inspiration for me.
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That said, I have thought that I have had something worthwhile to contribute to the cause of retired players and their families – specifically my expertise in disability law. And it is with those thoughts in mind that I became actively involved in helping the NFL Alumni transition from Caring for Kids to a role as the primary advocate for the needs of retired players, their families and their widows.
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You will recall that several years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell visited several cities to meet with RETIRED PLAYERS ONLY to try to learn what was on their minds. Many of you will recall that Dr. Eleanor Perfetto was not allowed to attend a meeting on behalf of her husband, Ralph Wenzel, who suffers from dementia. You may also recall that I was allowed into the meeting in Dallas – but not allowed to speak. I was very skeptical about what Commissioner Goodell and the NFL were up to.
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Not long after, I got a call from Bruce Laird, President of Fourth and Goal – one of the first retired player advocacy organizations who were raising money on behalf of – and advocating for – retired players. He told me that Goodell had called him and asked if Fourth and Goal would work with the NFL Alumni to refocus their efforts towards retired players and become one unified and representative advocacy organization. As we envisioned it, we would have one truly representative group that would speak on behalf of retired players’ issues – from intellectual property rights to significant pension improvements and much needed disability reform – with both the League and the Union.
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It was a tremendous effort on the part of many men to establish the new Alumni Association and hire George Martin as their executive director. Many of us involved in the effort took a lot of heat from all sides. The PA would not have anything to do with this, as they felt (as many others did) that this was a ploy by the NFL to curry favor with retired players as the League and Union moved towards the new CBA. While the men of the PA had little regard for what I had to say about needed disability reforms (which would only have served to help their members), I continued on, hoping that I would have the opportunity to discuss cases, problems, ideas and solutions with the League or various owners. I pressed on, hoping that Bruce Laird, Jeff Nixon and others well-versed in the pension plan, the CBA and all issues facing retired players, would also have the chance to meet face-to-face with the CBA decision makers.
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It never happened.
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Fast forward to where we are today – a CBA that did not come close to adequately addressing the needs of retired players. As all of you know, those failings are the subject of a lawsuit pending in Minnesota against the Union. While the League and Union think they have a 10-year period of “labor peace” to look forward to, they will clearly be kept busy by retired players who continue to feel left out, bruised and abused – in light of what they did to make the game what it is today and in light of the almost unimaginable amount of money the NFL is now generating.
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The Legacy Fund (anyone get their checks yet?) is but a drop in the bucket of what was needed. The League and Union are now scrambling to decide what to do about the disaster of leaving widows out of the picture.
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Which brings me back to the Alumni Association. What have they done for retired players and their families? Were they a significant role-player in the CBA as we had hoped? Are retired players happy with what they are doing? Has the membership grown or decreased since George Martin was hired? (We hear from a former employee that membership was down significantly but we really don’t know.) I do know that there are a number of NFL cities where there is no longer an Alumni chapter – including here in Atlanta – where there are between 700 and 800 retired players.
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The Alumni has had three major programs – all highly touted: the Satcher Leadership Institute of Morehouse School of Medicine and their mental health awareness program; their partnership with the Gay Culverhouse Player Outreach Program; and the Long-Term Care Insurance program. All of them great, helpful programs. But they weren’t really the Alumni’s – they were the League’s and the Alumni’s role in them appears to be little more than lip-service.
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I am sure that Commissioner Goodell and the League expected the Alumni to be self-sustaining by now. At least when we started down this path, that is what those of us at Fourth and Goal had expected. To the best of my knowledge, they are not. They have been the beneficiary of millions of dollars in “interest-free loans” from the League.
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The point of this letter is that at this point in time, I don’t think it really matters what I think of the Alumni or George Martin’s leadership. I don’t think it really matters what the majority of retired players think about them. And although the Board of Directors is supposed to be in charge, I don’t think it really matters what they think, or how much confidence they have in George Martin and the Alumni’s direction.
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The only one who really matters is Roger Goodell. Is he willing to continue to invest multiple millions of dollars to try to prop them up on their feet – or is it time to close the checkbook and see if they can stand on their own feet?
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John Hogan
Disability Attorney
Retired Player Advocate
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The Super Bowl show is now in full swing and today, George Martin and the NFL Alumni Board showed up for a full-court press conference to show unity behind their beloved leader. FOX Sports was in attendance and A.J. Perez covered it (comic book version at the bottom of the post) :
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NFL alumni board defends director

by A.J. Perez
Feb. 2, 2012
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Members of the NFL Alumni Association board of directors voiced their support for executive director George Martin at a news conference Thursday, a week after a FOXSports.com report revealed possible mismanagement of the financially strapped organization.
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“People can write whatever they want to write,” said Harry Carson, a former teammate of Martin’s on the New York Giants who pushed vigorously for Martin’s appointment in 2009. “You see all the individuals sitting here. We are backing this man 150 percent. We are his teammates and we are doing everything that we can to help our team, the retired players community, be successful.”
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FOXSports.com reported that the NFL Alumni Association — which began to advocate for retired players in conjunction with Martin’s hiring — has slid deeper into financial disarray and has been propped up by NFL loans totaling more than $4 million over the past two years. Martin also funneled contracts to family members, according to the report, and the charity he founded received free Super Bowl tickets.
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Five board members spoke on Martin’s behalf when asked about the report during the news conference. Afterward, one of the board members, former Baltimore Colts running back Tom Nowatzke, told FOXSports.com that the NFLAA ethics board addressed one of the conflict-of-interest claims made in the article: Martin’s use of his wife and daughter-in-law’s catering firm.
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FOX Sports‘ A.J. Perez and Alex Marvez kick off Super Bowl week with a scathing exposé on the inner workings of the NFL Alumni and its Executive Director, George Martin.
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One question we keep wondering about: Just exactly how many retired football player members does the NFL Alumni actually have? The one thing even the NFLPA manages to be transparent about is its membership roster and they even provide an online list for all to see. But George Martin and his management team continue to cite numbers in the thousands, claiming that their membership is the largest collective group of retired players. But this article cites around $80,000 collected from May through September 2011. At $100 per member, simple arithmetic tells you that’s 800 members. But when you factor in the $5,000 fees from the remaining chapters who may have sent in their dues during that same period, one has to wonder how much of that $80,000 actually comes from individual memberships? We’ve heard from all too many sources that the membership has dropped to below 500 actual dues-paying retired players, with the remaining members classified as “Associate Members” that include fans and other non-retirees. Heck, if the NFL has given the Alumni $4 million in interest-free loans since George Martin took over, maybe it might have been cheaper to just pay each of the estimated 15,000+ retired players (just one estimate) $100 apiece to be members of the Alumni?
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All the Cards on the Table

20 October 2011

Both the NFLPA and George Martin’s NFL Alumni have been trying to take credit for everything being offered to retired players from the new CBA. In the meanwhile, they’ve also done their best to ignore what retired players have actually been demanding long before this current CBA while never really putting their cards on the table about what it is that they’ve actually decided for retirees – without their direct input. The Union simply refused to be in the same room while discussions were being held directly with Commissioner Goodell and now they continue to play a let’s-wait-and-see attitude by blaming the League for holding up the final agreement. And they continue to take credit for the wonderful things they’ve done for retirees all while they weren’t a Union (during de-certification!).
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Meanwhile, back at the Alumni ranch, George Martin’s $250,000+ annual salary and bonuses are apparently not enough so he also had to do some endorsement work. George has been driving around in a brand-new $65,000+ Cadillac Platinum Edition Escalade ESV for the last week or so since the Alumni Golf Tournament tweeting all about his praises for his loaner wheels much to the delight of Government Motors. (Read the official NFL Alumni Press Release by clicking HERE.) FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez had a few more words to say about that ride:
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Why are NFL owners really locking out the players?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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The National Football League has been pretending that all is well in the land of the 32 franchises and the league’s more than 1,600 employees. Teams are conducting cheerleader tryouts. The league released the 2011 pre-season schedule, then came the regular season schedule announcement and the exciting month of NFL football reaches a climax with three days worth of what is essentially a major restraint of trade, the college draft. That exercise, which starts on Thursday, is made legal thanks to the 2006 National Football League-National Football League Players Association collective bargaining agreement which gives the NFL the right to offer college players a chance to join the players ranks through that mechanism even though the college players have no say in the 2006 agreement.
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So all is wonderful in the land of the NFL except for one minor detail: NFL owners have locked out the employees who perform on the field — the players and no new negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement are scheduled until May 16 after a flurry of court decisions will be made on the legality of the lockout and whether the owners can use TV monies from 2011 rights from FOX, NBC, CBS, Disney’s ESPN and DirecTV for football operations even if there is no product.
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The lockout was lifted by a Minnesota judge on Monday afternoon; the NFL will appeal the ruling which means both sides are back to the bargaining table with no rules for business for 2011. It could be that 2010 rules apply which is not necessarily good for either side. Players will have to wait six years, not four for free agency and the owners have no salary cap to control players costs.
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Amen, Terry Bradshaw

29 November 2009

Dr No's NFL BandaidsThe NFL doesn’t seem to care about their active players and they despise the retired players! All they offer is lip service to serious, life-changing head injuries. Unless a player is carried off the field on national TV, it’s almost impossible for a retired player to access his earned disability benefits. And his Union is nowhere to be seen when it comes to representing him. The NFL disability system has been illegal and it violates ERISA Law as well as their own plan document!

AAA

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