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EDITOR’S NOTE: We received this first-hand report from retired player, Bob Lurtsema, who was one of the “uninvited players” who showed up last week along with Bob Stein and many of the Plaintiffs in the NFL Films lawsuit Status Conference. Each and every retired player needs to read Bob’s words of caution closely and send in their comments.
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Fellow retired players -
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I attended the court-ordered Status Conference in the Dryer v. NFL case on November 27 in Minneapolis to see what was up. What I saw was an attempted sell-out and ambush by the NFL and Michael Hausfeld to force Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs to accept the NFL’s offer. The NFL and Hausfeld tried to pit players against players.
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Hausfeld brought along 10 or so non-Plaintiff retired players to support him. They were part of a secret group he organized to try to control the Dryer lawsuit payments. We discovered that one guy they brought in had never even been an NFL player! He paid for their travel but refused to pay for the original Plaintiffs’ travel as required by his retainer agreements with them.
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The original Plaintiffs who started the case were not even allowed in Hausfeld’s player meeting. When all the plaintiff attorneys met with all the players there, I was surprised the Magistrate openly pushed for the NFL deal (a very low offer of $50 million total), cut off Bob Stein who pointed out major shortcomings to the deal and then let Hausfeld ramble on to try and sell it. Right after that meeting, Hausfeld rushed out to confer with the NFL lawyers.
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The NFL-Hausfeld proposal, opposed by all original Plaintiffs (Fred Dryer, Jim Marshall, Joe Senser, Dan Pastorini, Elvin Bethea, Ed White) and Bob Stein, stunk to me. Under the NFL-Hausfeld proposal, NO player would be paid for using his rights …ever! Each retired player would give up all his NFL-related publicity rights forever and any money would only go to the neediest of player charity programs. The only ones getting paid are the lawyers!
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The proposal didn’t even have a guaranteed payment amount since all costs of opt-out player lawsuits against the NFL will be paid out of the settlement money! A very small group of players (Hausfeld’s?) would also be put in control of where the money goes. All of us would have to release our publicity rights (pictures, film of play, autographs) forever – and except for possible charity payments – will get paid nothing in the future. The Licensing Agency it set up looks just like the NFL Alumni Program – which LOST $5 million. So I don’t see what we’re getting for giving up claims to what Stein described as “the multi-billion dollar NFL Films vault” and over $150 million/year the NFL makes from using us in NFL Films.
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The NFL-Hausfeld proposal will pay $42 million (after $8 million in legal fees are paid) over 12 years, with all of it going only to charity programs. That amounts to under $15/month for each of the 20,000+ players whose rights would also be signed away. Of course, the lawyers would get paid $8 million up front immediately. Looks to me like each of us will gain absolutely nothing from the NFL-Hausfeld settlement and only the NFL and the lawyers win. No wonder Bob Stein and all the original Plaintiffs think it’s an inadequate deal. After all, over those 12 years when the NFL would be paying out about $3.5 million a year, they would make over $1.8 billion using us in NFL Films! After that, they would then pay nothing more and use our rights forever!
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Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs all want a deal where every player who gives up his rights forever knows in advance what he would personally get for it, either in dollars or health care benefits …and that it should be enough to mean something.
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I didn’t know why other players besides the Plaintiffs were there but it seemed they were trying to set up the illusion of a “support vote” from guys who were not even Plaintiffs, all without opening the meeting to ALL retired players, just to pressure the original Plaintiffs to go along. Other retired players did not even know about this Status Conference and I only heard about it at the last minute. Hausfeld’s guys were mostly for the deal but ALL the original Plaintiffs and Stein opposed it. I still don’t see the point of the Status Conference but I do see the NFL-Hausfeld deal as bogus and completely one-sided.
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I am against accepting it and wanted all of you to know why. But it should be your own call to make.
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Bob Lurtsema
Baltimore Colts, New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks
1967 – 1977
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Saturday, 19 May 2011
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BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY
In 1905, United States President Theodore Roosevelt used the power of the bully pulpit by ordering the Presidents of Harvard, Yale and Princeton to the Oval Office so that the heads of the three schools would work together to clean up the game of football. There was some thought that President Roosevelt could actually ban the game although history suggests that Roosevelt liked football but was aware that new rules needed to be imposed to make football safe.
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In 1905, eighteen players died from injuries that were suffered on the field while another 149 were reported to have serious injuries. Roosevelt’s pressure produced a number of changes including the introduction of the forward pass, the distance to be gained for a first down increased from five to ten yards and all mass formations and gang tackling were banned.
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Roosevelt’s Oval Office meeting would eventually led to the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and college football would grow in popularity with significant attention being paid to the college game coming in the 1920s.
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The game of football is again being scrutinized but neither the President of the United States not Congress is leading the charge. Instead more than a thousand former players are suing the National Football League claiming the league didn’t inform them of the risks of playing football and that they have suffered life altering injuries because of their service to the game.
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In some quarters the football industry looks to be under siege but it is hard to see how that is the case. Municipalities are still throwing money into building football facilities with the latest set of politicians being in St. Paul, Minnesota where the legislature and Governor Mark Dayton are willing to give the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings franchise at least a half a billion in taxpayers’ dollars to build a new stadium for the team. Cable TV networks are willing to fork over big dollars for college football and the public likes football. But there are some warning signs out there.
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“I think it is wrong to characterize it as under siege,” said Steve Hatchell, the President and CEO of the National Football Foundation. “The game has always been under siege. The whole aspect that we are talking about is that there are not hundreds but thousands of kids that are playing football that go on to have unbelievable lives of leadership, great productivity and do great things in our society.
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“The problem is that nobody really wants to listen to that. So it was as you talk about guys who played the game, guys who have been in the pros who do not have head injuries. That’s a whole separate story that needs to be addressed and needs to be juxtaposed to what you would call are the issues.
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“The issues themselves like concussions need to be addressed and it is being addressed. There are a lot of very fine people looking at that. Is it concussions, is it depression. Are there other aspects of this thing that require a great study?
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“So I think that there are a lot of ways to look at this that are far greater in their expanse than what is being looked at right now. The game has never been hotter, it has never been more than it has been accepted right now and there has never been a time where there are fantastic people playing the game who want to do great things in life.
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“We work hard to try to get that story out there, it’s just that nobody wants to listen to that.”
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In 1905, Harvard President Charles Eliot, who was no friend of Roosevelt, led the charge to ban football.
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One hundred seven years later, no one is calling for a ban on football but some people like former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman question how viable football might be in 20 years. But football’s vitality was questioned in 1905 as well.
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“It is not the same,” said Hatchell of the public debate in 1905 and the stories that are now coming out on the safety of the game from former players who were on the field in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and in the 21st century. “I think it is easy to draw it back into 1904 and say you got those issues. I think you can come up with a lot of statistics. There is football being played in a very intensive way all around the country, not just in the Ivy League where President Roosevelt had that concern. There were also other issues. Some of those kids who were in school at that time weren’t really in school or if there were there, there were basically as professional people.
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“It’s one of the reasons that the NCAA rule book is as big as it is. It is because of the rules that were violated or things that weren’t been done by Ivy League schools back in the early 1900s. I think now we are better equipped to take on the issues. I think we are better equipped to examine them than ever before. We will in a negative society where things are wrong and then you got to prove it backwards. We don’t tilt at that. We don’t think it is anywhere near where it was in 1904. There is better coverage on it right now of everything that goes on than what was ever before. So the negative find a good voice where the positives don’t find a voice at all. So I don’t think it is a fair comparison to go back to that span of time because it was very different and it is very different right now.
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“But the game now isn’t like it was then. We put a guy in the (College Football) Hall of Fame (William Lewis) from the late 1800s from Harvard who had already played at several different schools. He created the neutral zone. There were things like neutral zones or – this was a different kind of a game – it was very, very violent. The game is violent now and it has always been violent.
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“You don’t have to play the game of football if you don’t want to play it. Our whole point is, if you are going to examine the people who are playing the game who have the problems now, you also have to examine the guys who are playing the games now or in the past that didn’t have any issues. You got to have balance and there isn’t that balance out there right now.”
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So far, only former NFL players are threatening football’s structure and they are a fraction of the number of players who have been on the football field since the first college game between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869. On the horizon though is the potential for an onslaught of lawsuits from former players who performed on just the high school level or on the high school and college level. There is no question that public education in the United States is under attack from various interest groups and that school budgets have been slashed with music and the arts being eliminated. It could be that an expensive sport like football or hockey may face severe cuts because of higher insurance premiums and the fear of catastrophic injuries. Around the country, high school football is king but will it remain that way?
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“Oh sure, I think you have to look at all of those,” said Hatchell talking about the future of high school football in the United States. “But there have already made that decision in a lot of places to do away with band, anything that happens to be after school, not just football. Football is an easy one to target because there are a lot of expenses involved and you make up the rule that it is too dangerous or you are not getting the right coaching. It’s pretty convenient as opposed to how do how do you make it really work?
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“We (Hatchell) live in the state of Texas and high school football is not dropping off in the state of Texas. It has never been bigger. It has never been more significant than it is before. I think to say expenses are the way or the reasons to do away with things is wrong. Money is incredibly tight but we are talking about education and the other half of education that the High School Federation talks about. You got what you are doing in school and what you are doing after school and I think we need to have both in this society and I think they both have to be promoted. There are ways to get that done and we (the National football Foundation) work carefully with a lot of school districts around the country that try to keep football alive and well. It takes a lot of work.
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“Football is still awfully strong whether you are in Seattle or Washington or New Jersey football is pretty good football right now. I think there are great outposts of it around the country. Our whole point is this: Yes, let’s highlight what is negative and what needs to be repaired but on the other hand let’s highlight as well with the same passion, the good things that are happening in the game and the benefits that the kids have about going to colleges and doing a lot of other things. I think we can take advantage of that.”
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Football is a collision sport and not a contact sport. But that may not be the underlying problem for the future of football.
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“I think the bigger threat isn’t cost or injuries or anything to football,” said Hatchell. “I think it is the varied interests that kids have today. One of the burgeoning sports in the state of Texas today is lacrosse. Now it is a very big sport in the state of Texas. I think because of coverage and the coaching, there are a whole lot of other sports that are going to be emphasized greatly, the kids are going to have, they will not be limited to three of sports like when we were growing up. I think in 20 years (if football’s popularity wanes) it would be due to a general lack of interest as opposed to anything that has to be with injuries and other things. I think interests change and people move on.”
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Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on “The Politics of Sports Business.” His book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at www.bickley.com or amazonkindle. He can be reached at evanjweiner@yahoo.com
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To all retired players:
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On Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. your case will be argued against the NFLPA in front of Judge Susan Nelson in St. Paul, Minnesota. The NFLPA filed a Motion to Dismiss and this hearing will be to determine if your case is dismissed.
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If you will recall, in September and October of 2011, 47 former NFL players, including 27 Hall of Famers (26 of whom who are listed in the NFL’s official encyclopedia as 300 of the greatest players in NFL history), representing every decade in pro football since the 1940′s, filed a class action lawsuit against the NFLPA. The class representatives represent virtually every position in football, and every category of NFL player – including vested, non-vested, Hall of Famers, forgotten players, and legends of the game. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all former NFL players and seeks to increase the retirement benefits of all players – vested and non-vested
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The NFLPA is asking that your case be dismissed against them. We will argue that your case deserves to be heard by a jury.
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It would be great if the Judge could see a courtroom of retired players who are all in support of having your case get heard by a jury. So if you are available to make it to Minnesota to attend the hearing, I ask that you mark it on your schedule and come show your support for your case. It is particularly important that you attend if you live locally.
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The address is below. Please let me know if you plan to attend. Thanks.
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Best regards,
Shawn D. Stuckey, Esq.
(former NFL player – New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
Courtroom 7B
United States District Court
774 Federal Building
316 North Robert Street
St. Paul, MN 55106
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(Eller/Bednarik et. al, v. NFLPA and Gault/McElhenney et. al, v. NFLPA) Case No. 11-CV-2623 SRN/JJG (D. Minn.)
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Handouts to NFL owners have been an absolute failure

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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Fans don’t matter in sports
Monday, 16 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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And so the National Football League lockout has become a version of the People’s Court. The good guys, the National Football League Players Association, are fighting for workers’ rights and are begging “fans” to help them lift the lockout. The owners, the bad guys, want to take away the players ability to make truckloads of money and are threatening their long term health care. Wait, the players have done such a great job in past collective bargaining agreements that former players lose health benefits five years after their playing careers are done and only if a player has three years in the league.
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The “People’s Court” is now playing in Minneapolis, Minnesota where United States District Judge David Doty is figuring out of the owners owe the players money over how the league managed to negotiate TV contracts to protect that side if in the event of a 2011 lockout. The players are seeking $707 million in damages. The fans will get ZERO if Judge Doty gives the players a monetary award even through a good chunk of that TV money comes from the cable TV subscriber-based ESPN and the satellite pay service DirecTV. In fact a good many people who never watch an NFL game on either ESPN or DirecTV are subsidizing the billions of dollars that ESPN and DirecTV pays the NFL.
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The chances are that Judge David Doty will not address relief for subscribers are great. Fans are not a part of the lockout equation. Cable TV subscribers never received a rebate in 1994 and 1995 when Major League Baseball shutdown the 1994 season and the National Hockey League’s lockout did not end until January leaving cable TV subscribers without a product from mid-September 1994 through January 1995. An awful lot of teams had local cable TV deals in 1994 and 1995 and subscribers were playing for something that they didn’t get. Programming in terms of games which they were charged for. In 1998-99, the National Basketball Association locked out the league players for about 30 games. Not one cable TV subscriber received a penny back for missed games. Interestingly enough the owner of the Golden State Warriors, Chris Cohan, tried to stiff the Oakland Alameda Coliseum Authority and not pay rent at the Oakland Arena during the NBA lockout.
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Covenant between fans and sports is a facade
Thursday, 12 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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NFL Smoke & Mirrors

It is almost laughable to hear sports owners and employees (coaches, front office executives and players) talk about their concerns for the fan, the mythical covenant that National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern uses in biblical terms to explain the bond and trust that sports and fans have. It is a mere fantasy. Sports is a big business with cutthroats all about and the fan is the last to know.
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Sy Syms used to use a tag line in his television commercials in the New York market and other points in selling his clothes store saying that “an educated consumer is our best customer.” If that axiom was applied to the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League or big time college sports, anyone with any inkling of how the sports industry works would walk away before they were fleeced.
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Sports fans have online petitions, Facebook groups trying to show their muscle in an effort to put an end to the NFL lockout. They should devote their energies to other pursuits. Neither the owners nor the players care about sports fans except to lift money out of their pockets to pay for the debt service on a municipally built facility or for an autograph at some show.
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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Two decades later, sports is out of whack
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
BY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
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About two decades ago, a tall man with an identifiable nasal twang was holding court at Gallagher’s Steak House one afternoon as he lifted a martini with a shaking hand to his mouth. The septuagenarian with a bad wig was standing near the slabs of meat that were hanging at the steak house and in a crescendo was complaining about the world of sports. The empty room began filling up as the man droned.
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“Sports is out of whack,” said the man with the familiar voice in a loudish way as he fumbled to take a sip of his martini. He was disgusted with the industry that he first entered in the 1950s as Willie Mays’ advisor.
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Last week was yet another week of vindication for the man who was despised by sportswriters for telling it like it is.
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The three — make that about five — events of the week of April 25-April 30, had nothing to do with actual games. There was the draft in a locked-out-then-open-for-business-then-locked-out National Football League.
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There was Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson moving as much earth as he could to try and keep the city’s National Basketball Association team in team in town despite the fact that the unemployment level had hit 12 percent in his region. At the same time he was rounding up $10 million in marketing partnership for the owners of the NBA Kings, the Maloof brothers, Johnson was cutting workers at the city’s police and fire departments and school administrators were trying to figure out whether they can keep sports going in Sacramento public schools.
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And a little Friday humor: A couple of weeks ago, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe figured out a simple take on the NFL’s new no-hit policy. He caused an uproar when he posted a note and picture on Twitter about the hypocrisy of how the new rules are supposed to be applied. Sadly, he’s not far off from the reality of how things really work in the NFL. Here’s the intro news clip from Twin Cities FOX News (a couple of big hits right at the start of the clip – click on the PLAY arrow >):

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NPR’s Tell Me More with host, Michel Martin, interviewed Dr. Eleanor Perfetto and Brent Boyd this morning. Dr. Perfetto recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of her husband, Ralph Wentzel, who played lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers from 1966 – 1973; her lawsuit is the first workers’ compensation claim for dementia resulting from brain injuries incurred while playing football. Ralph Wentzel is now living in an assisted living facility with severe dementia. The NFL’s Plan 88 is covering his assisted living costs ($88,000 a year). Brent Boyd was an offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings and was diagnosed with early onset dementia 4 years ago. (Brent’s website is HERE.)

Dr. Eleanor Perfetto

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The NFL and the NFLPA keep playing soundbites and PR stunts for the public and its players. In another fine example, the NFL hotline that players are supposed to be able to call to check if their supplements contain steroids or other goodies that will flag a steroid test. But when Minnesota Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian called them twice, he got their recorded voice mail and no reply. Only after a third call did he finally get a human on the other end of the line. Sound familiar? The operators must have been too busy answering calls about disability and pension matters. continue reading »