Lots of news this week on concussions, disability and everything in between. Let’s start off with more about the debate on the future of football. (We wonder if many of these current players trash talking the long-term effects of concussions today may be the first guys in line looking for help when it’s their turn.) Here’s a video clip from ESPN: .
. The late Junior Seau’s family has filed suit against not only the NFL and Riddell but have also included NFL Films for their glorifying and perpetuating the greatest hits in games over the years.(Read that story by clicking HERE.) . Oral arguments on the consolidated concussion lawsuits are scheduled to begin in front of Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia on April 9th. (Click HERE for the short announcement on ESPN.) . And the NFLPA wasn’t about to be outdone by the NFL in the PR run up to the Super Bowl. Last year, the NFL made a $30 million grant to the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to study brain concussions in NFL players – specifically starting with Junior Seau. Earlier this month, they ended up with confirmation that – yes indeed – Junior had CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) instantly resulting in a lawsuit filed on behalf of his family against the League. Then earlier this week, the NFLPA disclosed in their tax returns that they LOST $36 million last year as a result of that lockout before the new CBA was finally signed (as covered by Daniel Kaplan‘s coverage in Sporting News - click HERE). Never mind that $36 million loss though. For their Pre-Super Bowl PR, the NFLPA just announced they’re funding a $100 million study with Harvard University: . .
NFL players, Harvard team for $100 million health study
After a few e-mail exchanges, Larry Lamade at Akin Gump graciously provided me with a bound copy of the latest Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan that was released in April 2012. . He also sent me a cover letter with attachments that outline a proposed amendment and a new Neuro-Cognitive Disability Benefit that are in the process of being added to the Plan. We’ll be adding comments and observations shortly. If any of our readers find some interesting points, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below. . We uploaded copies of the proposed changes and a full copy of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan to 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): .
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. . . 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! .continue reading »
. 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. .
Former NFL player Dave Duerson found to have had brain damage
A couple of months after sending a letter with questions to Mary-Ann Fleming (Director of Disability Benefits for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan) and Larry Lamade (of Akin Gump), I finally received this response from Larry Lamade earlier in the week. You can read my original questions on that earlier post by clicking HERE.
At the beginning of May, I had mailed and posted a series of questions to Mary-Ann Fleming, the NFL’s Director of Player Benefits.(Click HERE to read the original questions I’d submitted.) A week later, I received a short letter from them informing me that she was away on business and then on vacation. Nearly a month after sending out my first letter, I finally received a 3-page response via FedEx. (By the way, what’s the deal with all that? No one gets back to me quickly and when you do, there are no answers to my questions. You take over 2 years to finally decide to send me a second reimbursement check for $202.68 as your share of a $60,000 surgery. Yet you have paid assistants to respond that you’re away on vacation. And everything’s done by FedEx – at our plan’s expense, no less.)
Over a week ago, I wrote and sent a letter with questions for Mary-Ann Fleming, Director of Disability Benefits for our Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan. You can read that earlier post by clicking HERE. The letters were mailed out by USPS Priority Mail to her and Larry Lamade at Akin Gump. Copies of the letter were also sent out to the NFLPA representatives on the Disability Board, as well as Roger Goodell (Chairman of the Disability Board) and DeMaurice Smith at the NFLPA.
Some people just can’t seem to keep their hands out of the cookie jar. Or maybe it’s more like getting their fingers stuck in the till. Our friends over at AON Consulting have popped back up on the radar screen once again. A couple of weeks ago, Dave received another important communiqué from his good friends at the NFL Player Care Foundation. It was a reminder about this program for discount prescription drug benefit.
One of the more common questions coming in from recently retired players (the last 10 – 15 years) has been about severance pay. In our last post, both Lionel James and Burt Grossman mentioned that they weren’t even aware of any severance pay clauses. Irv Cross sent in a response through the Comments and we decided to put it up as a general post so it would be more visible to everyone. Thanks, Irv!
This story started a couple of weeks ago when I was reminded that Valerie Cross was the person listed as the Director of Player Benefits for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan. So I went ahead and called her office. My call got directed to her voicemail and I left a message asking her to call me back regarding some questions that I had about my benefits as well as my HIPAA/ERISA rights. The story continues in the following e-mails:
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.
You may recall that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if he was the chair of the Retirement Board (clickHEREto read that earlier post). The answer is that under the terms of the Bell/Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan, he serves as a non-voting, ex-officio chair. However, at the Baltimore Sports Symposium, Sarah Gaunt informed us that Harold Henderson – NFL attorney – is the chair. (Read about Henderson’s antics in a previous postHERE.) With that, we’ll close for the weekend with some fun from an old classic from Abbott and Costello: Who’s on First?
Dave sure gets some interesting phone calls. Remember the gunshot call just before Gene Upshaw left the scene? (Read that post by clicking HERE.) We’re happy to say those kinds of calls have stopped.
But with the letter-writing campaign to AON Corp. and its CEO Gregory Case, it’s been lots and lots of correspondence. (Click HERE to read the original letter that started it all.) We’ve probably been responsible for killing a small forest. Dave’s been getting letters from pretty much everyone EXCEPT Mr. Case and their attorneys; instead, they’ve taken to writing everyone else except Dave, including the Attorneys General of Washington, New York and Connecticut, among others. Why, Dave even got a letter from Larry Lamade of Akin Gump, the NFL’s attorneys. Everyone writes letters and it creates a great paper trail so everyone knows what’s going on.