EDITOR’S NOTE: Our phone lines and Inboxes have been tied up since last Thursday when it was first announced that there was a tentative settlement offer being presented to the court by the mediator in the NFL concussion lawsuits. On first review, there are some details that haven’t really been made available yet and this spin is also starting to look very familiar. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of speculation and misinformation out there already pouring out of the media and we’re just as guilty with trying to second-guess much of what’s been said. But we’ve had some conversations with many of the retired players and lawyers in an attempt to get more facts as well as to calm things down. . Something that’s interesting to note: All the media – especially the mainstream sports media with the likes of ESPN which axed its ties to the League of Denial documentary with PBS – have been posting opinion pieces and misinformation about this settlement proposal. Most of the people directly involved with the litigation have informed us that they have very few details yet. The only party in this whole mess who have NOT said anything is… You guessed it. The League. Is this another typical NFL pit-everyone-against-each-other maneuver? Hmmm. And if you do want some real gossip, check out this piece on who may have been part of the negotiations: Click HERE. . George Visger asked us to post his thoughts here online as part of a better strategy for everyone: The best answer is, “We don’t have all the facts yet. Let’s just wait and see.” . # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # . I owe Jason Luckasevic a HUGE apology. . JASON, I APOLOGIZE FOR MY COMMENTS I E-MAILED YESTERDAY. . I will follow up by sending this to everyone I emailed my displeasure at the settlement to. . Again, I apologize. . I know you have been in this battle for the last 6 years. You told me years ago, prior to it even being filed, you were in it for the long run. I remember meeting with you and an attorney from a big bad firm that was involved in the settlement with Big Tobacco. You were looking to team with them as no law firm has the resources to take on the NFL conglomerate alone. . After months of review, one law firm after another turned tail and ran. You called me that day to state, “George, we will get this done for all the families who have suffered. We’ll find lawyers with enough backbone and integrity to go after these NFL with us.” . As soon as I heard the announcement Thursday of the NFL’s proposed settlement in the NFL head injury case, I fell for the NFL’s propaganda. When I read stories about the amount and payment schedule over 20 years, I was livid. . “What is this garbage?” I thought. “$750 a month paid out over 20 years?!!” . As I have a tendency to do, I jumped the gun. I fired off upset before I had any of the facts – other than the “facts” we were fed which were only partial truths. It may be more propaganda from the NFL as a last ditch, Hail Mary attempt to divide us once again. The truth of the matter is that Jason Luckasevic and the other key attorneys involved still don’t know the details yet: Exact amounts, who gets what or how it will all be divided or the process of rejecting this proposal. . You stated you need to make sure it’s even real money and you need more time to sort out the facts. . I believe you and I hope all my NFL brothers I may have fired up (and some who got me fired up) will also do the same. . Jason Luckasevic is the ONLY attorney who has been involved from the inception of this case when it was only a “potential” case. Others have joined the fray and may be making more noise than Jason but that’s been all right with him as it is with me. . You did more than what you promised me years ago. You said, “I can’t promise you anything or even if we will ever get a suit out of this, but I promise you we will do everything in our power to get it done if there’s any possibility at all.” . Thanks for keeping your word. And again I apologize for ever doubting your integrity. . My family thanks you too. . George Visger San Francisco 49ers 1980 & 1981 Super Bowl XVI Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused brain surgeries Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits The Visger Group Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting . I spoke to Jason and other parties involved in the suit this morning. Some of the terms have not even been worked out and when they do, we will all have a say in it. The final settlement must be approved by the players and attorneys. If we don’t like the settlement we don’t approve it. It’s that simple. . PS: My actions and statements are classic examples of what those of us who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries and CTE face.
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. .
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 »
Our friend Patrick Hruby has been busy of late. Patrick spent some one-on-one time with George Visger a few weeks ago to pull together one of the most detailed stories of George’s life in the NFL and after the NFL. During the NFL’s (and the NFLPA’s) PR run to this year’s Super Bowl, we’ve done our best to show the other side of football: The REAL side of what happens to many of their older players of the past. George has been one of the best examples of everything that the League and the Union can do to a retired player after he leaves the game damaged. While the League can toss aside a lot of other players more easily, George has a lot going for AND against him: He played in Super Bowl XVI for the winning San Francisco 49ers (he only got the ring to show for it) and left the season with severe brain injuries as a direct (and documented) result of playing for the NFL. He qualified for California Workers Compensation (in fact, George was probably one of the first and more prominent football cases back in the early 80′s) even though they fought him for several years before he finally won his case. But once again on the NFL side – even though George proved his case to Workers Comp and recently to Social Security Disability – George will still never receive one penny of direct disability or pension benefits from the League because according to their ridiculous rules, he didn’t play long enough. As a pre-1993 retired player, George had to have played for four seasons to be fully vested (post-1993 players “only” need to have three seasons to be vested for benefits). . And on and on it goes. For better and for worse.continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE:Fourth & Goal’s Bruce Laird sent in his comments and observations after reading the recent ESPN article from last Friday, Mixed Messages on Brain Injuries.(Click HERE to read the post that includes a link to the article.)Bruce and Sam Havrilak were also unceremoniously kicked out of the Baltimore chapter of the NFLPA for their outspoken and proactive activities for retired players. Here are some comments and observations from Bruce:
We started the second day of our IFV Conference last April in Las Vegas at the South Point with a panel discussing some of the latest information and studies on concussions, brain damage and current state-of-the-art treatments. Retired 49′er George Visger talks about his personal journey after football to recover some of his lost memory after 9 brain surgeries and years of living out of notebooks to help him remember his daily routines. Dr. William Duncan talks about the latest information on hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT and the current efforts to advance legislation for HBOT in Washington on behalf of veterans and the general public. You can follow along Bill Duncan’s presentation by opening up his PowerPoint presentation while playing the video in the background. (We’ve also included a copy of George Visger’s slideshow below Bill Duncan’s presentation.) .
Here’s the broadcast on Disability Issues from our Independent Football Veterans Conference this past April in Las Vegas at the South Point. This is definitely the other topic that generates the most questions from retired players. . Disability attorney and retired player advocate John Hogan has been in practice for 35 years after also having worked inside the Social Security system. In this 54-minute open panel discussion, John discusses a wide range of topics regarding covering disability benefits, your rights, Social Security Disability, as well as the serious flaws within the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan. . Dave joins John as a typical example of what most retired players have encountered in their battle to get access to their earned benefits that the NFL and NFLPA continue to deny. . There are a lot of questions from retired players. .
We’re bringing you a two-part broadcast in this post from our Independent Football Veterans Conference this past April in Las Vegas at the South Point. Certainly, one of the most important issues that affects many retirees is Workers Compensation. In recent years, a lot more cases have been ending with better outcomes for retired players. . Our second panel featured a discussion on some of the latest information and studies on Workers Compensation. Retired Hall-of-Famer and California Workers Comp attorney Ron Mix kicks off with a great overview of how Workers Comp applies to retired football players and some of the actions the NFL has taken to stem applications. Attorney Bryan Round talks about his representation on behalf of football players and working with the local NFLPA Workers’ Comp Panel in Kansas City. In Part 2, retired player George Visger shares his personal, long – and ongoing – battle over the years with Workers Comp. Dave Pear moderates. .
More news on the battle against the NFLPA. Hausfeld LLP issued a public statement on behalf of retired football players to Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, stating the case for the expulsion of the NFL Players Association from the AFL-CIO. We’re also including the 10-page letter that was sent to Mr. Trumka detailing how the NFLPA has consistently broken with true Union tradition and principles in the treatment of its retirees as a normal way of doing business. .
Thanks to our friend, Jennifer Thibeaux, we have a great collection of photographs from our well-attended Second Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference held April 20 – 22 2012 at The South Point Resort in Las Vegas. Videos and PowerPoints to follow shortly! .
Here’s the slideshow from flickr (there’s an enlarge button in the lower right hand corner of the slideshow screen if you want to view our slideshow fullscreen; just hit ESC to close fullscreen mode): .
With so many areas to cover this year at our Second Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference, we’ve adopted a broadcast format and assembled discussion panels with audience participation instead of individual speakers for the most part. Each panel will be broadcast as a separate topic covering the most important issues and questions retired players want to know. . Each panelist will be given an opportunity to talk approximately 5 – 10 minutes about their particular areas of expertise and interest after which 30 – 45 minutes will then be devoted to general discussions and questions from our studio audience and our online viewers. For a list of our panelists and speakers,clickHERE. We’ll be posting our Panelists’ Bios shortly. . All retired players welcome to participate in this live event but be sure to register for your entry pass today -clickHERE – and book you flight and room(s) at the South Point as soon as possible! The Conference is open to all retired football players by simply registering to attend. Media and other guests are limited and by invitation only –clickHEREto contact us. .
Each panelist will be given an opportunity to talk for approximately 5 – 10 minutes about their particular areas of expertise and interest, after which 30 – 45 minutes will then be devoted to general discussions and questions from our studio audience and our online viewers. For a list of our panelists and speakers, clickHERE. We’ll be posting our Panelists’ Bios shortly. .
We now have a publicly available copy of the Settlement Agreement details and the subsequent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) made when the CBA was ratified. The individual active players (Brady et al) agreed to drop their suits that were filed against the NFL when the Union decertified during the lockout. We’re posting this for weekend reading and look forward to your comments and observations. Note that it was Jeffrey Kessler who filed this without any seal. . We’ve uploaded the entire 201-page document to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it downloadable for printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the center of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (and just hit the ESC key to close): . Brady Settlement for 2011 NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement .
Here’s a yearend update from Hausfeld LLP and Zelle Hofmann including articles from disability attorney John Hogan and George Visger. . We’ve uploaded their newsletter to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it downloadable for printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the center of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (and just hit the ESC key to close): . The Voice – NFL Retiree Newsletter, Vol 1, Issue 2 .