Bruce Laird: Mixed Messages

19 November 2012

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:

Joe DeLamielleure, Bruce Laird and Herb Adderley

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EDITOR’S NOTE: We just received a copy of another e-mail that was sent out by Jim McFarland, a non-voting member of the NFLPA Former Players Executive Committee. Jim expresses his concerns with key issues that the Union appears to have “negotiated” on behalf of Retired Players (while they were no longer a Union) and he sounds like he’s just as surprised to finally hear about them as the rest of you… His e-mail to NFLPA counsel, Tom Depaso, is added to the bottom of this post.
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And on and on it goes. Dave just received one more enlightening e-mail from NFLPA’s Dave Duerson replacement, Sam McCullum, this morning with more “clarification” on their Coming Soon Improvements to Retired Players Benefits á la NFLPA. Here it is in its unedited form:
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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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Over the weekend, the retired players and the attorneys involved with the Eller et al vs. NFL et al class action lawsuit released a letter addressed to all retirees to outline a call for unity as well as to provide an update on the facts and actions to date.
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Dear fellow retired players,
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We have been asked by many of our fellow retired National Football League (“NFL”) players to provide more information about what the Eller v. NFL lawsuit is meant to accomplish and how the lawsuit will help benefit all retired NFL players. What follows is our attempt to do so.
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On March 28, 2011 the national law firms of Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP and Hausfeld, LLP, filed a class action on behalf of all retired NFL players against the NFL in federal court in the District of Minnesota to bring about wholesale improvements of the NFL player retirement system.
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This lawsuit came after the CBA negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA broke down, the Union decertified and the League subsequently locked the players out. The complaint seeks to do for retired players what the Reggie White class action lawsuit did for current players in the early 1990’s: create an organization and system whereby retired NFL players are able to advocate on their own behalf and therefore vastly improve the current landscape of the NFL retirement system. This class action – known as Eller et al., v. NFL – was consolidated with the class action on behalf of current players called Brady, et al vs. NFL. (Consolidated simply means that the cases are heard together and the NFL is better positioned to try and resolve both cases simultaneously – although the retired players are asking for and addressing different issues than the current players.)
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Recently, the largest collective group of representatives of various organizations for retired players or who have mass online audience met in Minneapolis. The group included representatives and/or members from the NFLPA, NFL Alumni, the Retired Players Association, Fourth & Goal, Gridiron Greats, Dignity after Football and DavePear.com/Independent Football Veterans. Most of the participants agreed to present the League with united proposals for changes in key areas affecting the well-being of retired players:

  • (a)    pensions;
  • (b)   disability benefits;
  • (c)    medical benefits;
  • (d)   medical monitoring; and
  • (e)    vesting calculations.

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Hall-of-Famer Ron Mix attended and spoke at our first Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference last week, held at the South Point Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. We received Ron’s overview and editorial letter this morning and we’re posting it in its entirety below. Thanks, Ron!
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You can view and read more of the entire event by going to the site by clicking HERE. (We will be updating the site constantly all week long as we finalize sound enhancements on all our videos as well as add more commentary and PowerPoints from our speakers.) And if you would like to help advance our cause by being a founding donor, please feel free to go to our Donation page by clicking HERE.
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The Summit is On!

11 March 2009

Greetings from Las Vegas

We’ve been asked many times over the past few weeks about the status of the Independent Summit for NFL Retired Players. It can now be announced that it will take place in Las Vegas on May 28 – 31. Those involved in helping to organize this effort to get all of us together as an Independent Group of NFL Retired Players include me, Tony Davis, Joe DeLamielleure, Dave Pear, Disability Attorney John Hogan, Jeff Nixon, Ben Lynch, Marvin Cobb, Bob Grant, Abner Haynes and Bruce Laird. There are a lot more NFL Retired Players who have assisted in multiple ways with this effort and too many to mention in this announcement. Many of these men have helped by consulting with us. We communicate almost daily and are working to make sure that this event will provide a new direction for NFL Retired Players. What also must be mentioned is that others have been asked to be a part of the organizational process but have chosen not to participate.

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We’re posting the entire press release from Mike Ditka’s GridIron Greats that was put out to general release this morning. Gridiron Greats, in conjunction with OAA Orthopedic Specialists of Allentown, PA, have put together a new medical assistance program for retired, injured NFL players. Several players have already been flown in for evaluation and care through the assistance program which has been open for approximately two months already. And unlike the NFLPA’s so-called joint-replacement program that only covers hips, shoulders and knees, this program isn’t selective. What NFL player DOESN’T have neck and back problems? And concussions? (Read Tony Davis’ earlier comments about the NFLPA’s program by clicking HERE.)

Even more amazing is the fact that 50 players have already been flown in for this program and you have to wonder if the NFLPA’s current program – which is about to close at the end of July – has even seen 50 applications, let alone approved 50 players for benefits? And we wonder how Upshaw and the NFLPA are going to malign Mike Ditka and Gridiron Greats this time for doing something that they themselves should have done years ago.

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For many of you who may have missed this, here’s the 73-minute video taken during that press conference hosted by Gridiron Greats at the 101 Lounge in Washington DC on Sept. 18, 2007. Mike Ditka plays MC along with Delvin Williams, Dwight Harrison, Dave Pear, Conrad Dobler, Gale Sayers, Eugene “Mercury” Morris, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Mike Pyle, Sam Huff, Brent Boyd and Walter Beach.

Here’s the full 1 hour and 14 minute video from September 2007 with Mike Ditka. From the posting itself:

“Twelve ex-National Football League (NFL) players participated in a press conference, on September 18, 2007, at the 101 Lounge, near Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. The session was sponsored by the “Gridiron Greats.” The players, led by the legendary Mike Ditka, ex-Chicago Bears’ tight end and coach, are outraged over what they perceive as the gross inadequacy, the unfair maintenance and the mean-spirited manner in which the retirement, health insurance, and disability plan/system, established by the NFL, supposedly, on their behalf, is set up and administered. Heard and seen on the video, but not necessarily in the order of their appearance, besides coach Ditka, are: Delvin Williams, Dwight Harrison, Dave Pear, Conrad Dobler, Gale Sayers, Eugene “Mercury” Morris, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Mike Pyle, Sam Huff, Brent Boyd and Walter Beach.”

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Here’s the video on YouTube on Mike Ditka’s press conference for the disabled retired players.

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Canada Post

Even Canada’s National Post drew attention in this pre-SuperBowl Sunday Sports piece by Sean Fitzgerald entitled, Gridiron Greats Tackles Hardships of Former NFL Players.

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