In the past week, we’ve been flooded with a large-scale press campaign from the long-quiet NFL Alumni about a new drug trial that has an incredible range of claims ranging from antidepressant benefits to new brain stem cell generation. The problem we noticed was that this is a completely new drug in its earliest trial stages. In other words, it’s one more untested new drug in a large new flood of drugs that come into the marketplace on an almost daily basis. With all the players still joining the flood of concussion lawsuits, we decided to consult to some experts who have a background on conducting drug trials as well as with Jason Luckasevic (from Goldberg Persky & White) for some thoughts from a legal perspective. Dr. Xavier Figueroa and Jason Luckasevic rendered some thoughts that all retired players may want to consider before participating in ANY drug trial.(You can read all biographies 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. .
Seriously. Most of our readers have no idea about some of the stuff that comes through to us while running this blog. For those of you who post comments, you’ll know that all comments are held for moderation in order to filter out spam (we get lots of them after spammers realized how much traffic we get), bad language and just plain dumb comments. Once in a while (although not much these days, we’ll get a weird one from some strange source or another (remember these two posts from back in 2008HERE andHERE). . Anyway, after posting the piece on the new OSHA study summary on long-term problems from brain injuries pose for football players, we found this strange comment awaiting approval (as always, click on thumbnails to enlarge for easier viewing): .
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. . Fellow retired players - . 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. . 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. . 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. . 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! . 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. . 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! . 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. . 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. . I am against accepting it and wanted all of you to know why. But it should be your own call to make. . Bob Lurtsema Baltimore Colts, New York Giants Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks 1967 – 1977 . .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Now that some of the dust has settled from the fallout of George Martin’s 2-year tenure as Executive Director of the NFL Alumni, there are a lot of questions still left unanswered. Attorney John Hogan was an active advocate from the earliest stages of what started with the best of intentions. We’re also going ahead with including John Hogan and Dave’s discussion on Disability from the recent IFV Conference held in April in Vegas. The video is at the bottom of this post.
An Open Letter to the NFL and Retired Players Regarding the Alumni
We just received another note from retired player and attorney Bob Stein with more clarification on the Legacy Fund Benefits. Many of you will already be familiar with Bob as one of the lead attorneys for the Dryer vs. NFL (Films) lawsuit. Dave also received a memo from Joe Browne out of the NFL offices that contains an interesting note about your Legacy Fund benefits as well as a proposal for widows that has apparently been on the table awaiting an answer from… yes – you guessed it: Your Union. Please call or write your Union to let them know they need to get off their collective butts and DO THE RIGHT THING! Pay the widows NOW! . We’ll start off with Bob Stein’s notes: .
May 8, 2012 . To: Fellow Retired NFL Players From: Bob Stein RE: Legacy Benefit .
Men, . I spoke to the NFL Player Benefits (“Plan”) office yesterday and got what I think is some clarity on two more issues regarding the Legacy Benefit which have many retired players confused. I am passing the conversation notees along in hopes of helping. . Bob Stein . LEGACY BENEFIT INFORMATION . While I cannot provide legal advice on this matter, I would like to pass along the information I received by telephone on May 7, 2012 from the NFL Player Benefits Office for other retired players waiting for Legacy Benefit payments or wondering about their status. . 1. Players currently receiving NFL Disability payments – I was told these players would receive only THE GREATER OF: . a) the amount of monthly disability payment they currently receive; OR . b) the total of monthly pension payment they would now qualify for based on years of service, etc. plus the monthly Legacy Benefit they would qualify for under the 2011 CBA. . They made it clear you only receive whichever monthly amount is greater. So players whose current disability payment is greater than the total of (b) would receive NO additional payment from the Legacy Benefit in the new CBA. . 2. Players who assigned all or part of their pension benefits to an ex-spouse in their divorce: . I was told each of these situations would be reviewed individually by Plan attorneys and actuaries to see what payment rights that individual player’s divorce decree language assigned to his ex-spouse. Since the language on what divorce obligations are continuing can be different for every decree, based on what was agreed to or awarded by the court, the Plan advisors must go through them individually to see what should go to each ex-spouse and each player. . I hope this information helps clarify some remaining Legacy Benefit issues. The number of the NFL Player Benefits Office is (800) 638-3186. . And some of what was relayed to retirees from the NFL Offices today: .
Dear Retired Player: . The following items may interest you: . 1. Attached is a four-page summary of the recent record-based study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of all retirees who played in the NFL for at least five seasons from 1959 through 1988. We previewed this study in the most recent NFL RETIRED PLAYER NEWS that was emailed to you on April 24. NIOSH also sent via regular mail a copy of this same information to the 3,439 players whose records were used for the study. .
2. More than 250 retirees who had been waiting to hear from the Pension Benefit office in Baltimore regarding their Legacy payments were mailed information on their individual cases in recent weeks. One of the last group of retirees to receive information will be those players who have QDROs and also receive Disability Benefits. Also, the 320 widows and other beneficiaries of vested pre-93 players who died prior to the 2011 CBA being signed still are awaiting word from the NFLPA regarding those Legacy benefits. The league is on record as stating it will pay 51% of the costs for the widows benefit if the NFLPA pays the balance. . 3. The NFL Alumni Association announced over this past weekend at a Board meeting in Arizona the resignation of Executive Director George Martin, who had served in that post since October, 2009. Ex-Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik, who serves as the non-salaried President of the Alumni Association, also will act as interim Executive Director until a full time successor is named. . Incidentally, the Association’s annual Super Bowl of Golf, which matches winning teams from all local Alumni chapters, was held in conjunction with the Board meeting and was won by a team led by ex-Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. Congratulations. . 4. All of us in the NFL family mourn the death of NFL great Junior Seau last week. There will be a private memorial service and burial this Friday, May 11 in Oceanside, California followed by a public memorial that same night at QualComm Stadium, the home of the Chargers and site for many of Junior’s on-the field heroics. . Joe Browne . Senior Advisor to the Commissionercontinue reading »
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. . 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? . Here’s the story from A.J. Perez FOX Sports: .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
It never happened. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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. .
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? .
Retired Player Advocate . . .
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) : . .
NFL alumni board defends director
by A.J. Perez Feb. 2, 2012 . 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. . “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.” . 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. . 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. . continue reading »
EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of NFL Alumni COO Ron George’s Memo to Chapter Presidents arrived in our Inboxes this morning. Here it is in its entirety: . From: Ronald George Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 To: Chapter Presidents Cc: George Martin; Joe Pisarcik; Randy Minniear Subject: FoxSports Article . .
Dear Chapter Presidents, . .
Below you will find links to two articles written by FoxSports.com that were posted today. . continue reading »
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. .
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? continue reading »
OK – so here we go again. We posted Dan Pastorini’s story about wanting to opt out of the NFL Alumni’s Group Licensing Agreement (click HERE to read that earlier post). On their membership page online, the GLA was automatically attached as a part of the membership process with no option to opt-out of the agreement in order to join the Alumni. Dan pointed that out to the rest of us. And that’s when the knives came out. .
Look, we don’t care who said what and exactly what the details may have been between Dan Pastorini and George Martin. And quite frankly, like most people, WHO REALLY CARES?!! But then two Alumni members, David Carter, President of the Houston Chapter, and Rod Smith, Carolinas Chapter President – both members on the Alumni Board of Directors apparently – decided to give a detailed He-Said-He-Said version of what transpired between Pastorini and Martin. And then Jeff Nixon decided to jump in on the Alumni blog and make it personal with Dave and me. Again. We only hope they’re paying you well over at the Alumni now, Jeff… . Here’s the real issue and this is what we’re absolutely 110% in agreement with Dan Pastorini: Attaching a completely unrelated and unsolicited Licensing Agreement to what’s supposed to be nothing more than a simple membership enrollment is just plain wrong! In fact, it’s downright sneaky, unethical and it actually violates consumer law! . Jeff Nixon decided to call Dan Thursday and Dan shared that conversation with us on Friday: . “Jeff Nixon told me that George had admitted ‘He may have made a mistake’ in tying the GLA to their membership enrollment.” . “If I almost missed it when I was signing up, then I wonder how many other players had already missed that GLA footnote? And that was my point! It was all a matter of principle.” Dan said. “As a matter of fact, if George is finally coming out and admitting that it was a mistake in adding the contract and they’re now planning on removing that hook, what about all the guys who have already inadvertently signed their GLA? I think the Alumni needs to invalidate all those copies of the GLA that they’ve acquired through their membership forms and then offer their GLA to its members separately. It’s not me I’m concerned about now. It’s any of the other guys who have already been locked into this GLA without their full knowledge or consent.”
Dave - . After reading over the NFL Alumni’s Group Licensing Agreement, I decided to notify them that I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – accept their GLA which has developed virtually no revenue whatsoever for retired players. In fact, it looks to be clearly designed to impact and damage the Dryer v. NFL lawsuit on behalf of all retired players. Next thing you know, I’m being told by George Martin himself that I could no longer be a member of the NFL Alumni! . I’d like to suggest that other retired players might not want to be NFL Alumni members …unless they want to support the NFL’s ongoing poor treatment of retired players. We don’t want to be paying for George’s new Escalade and we sure don’t want another repeat of Gene Upshaw’s GLA “One-for-You-and-One-Million-for-Me” deals.(Click on Dan’s membership cancellation to enlarge for easier reading.) . . Dan Pastorini Oilers, Rams, Raiders & Eagles 1971 – 1984 . EDITOR’S NOTE: Dan sent us some additional clarification on his Alumni membership: .
I tried to pay my dues online but it wouldn’t let me unless I checked the GLA box! I then e-mailed them and asked why I couldn’t join without agreeing to the GLA. They informed me I could send a check. Then I got George’s e-mail stating I was no longer a member. .
Dan . We uploaded a copy of the NFL Alumni GLA to Scribd for viewing and printing and to make it downloadable. You can also click the Fullscreen button on the left side of the menu to enlarge it for easier navigation (hit the ESC key to close) . NFL Alumni Group Licensing Agreement .
. Your wonderful Union at work. I received this short update from the Seattle Chapter’s Sam McCullum earlier this morning with a memo attached from Dee Becker in The Washington office. Basically, it’s more nothing. McCullum says that it’s basically all the NFL’s fault because their Alumni and George Martin are still trying to interject themselves as representatives of retired players while Becker is saying, “Gee, we already know what’s best for retired players and we’ve already decided on how to distribute this Legacy Fund money. So you might as well just shut up and take what you get!” . So I guess the thousands of retired players who have actually spoken up for their own voice and their own vote are chopped liver (or dog food as Gene Upshaw used to say)? Meanwhile, why is it that Disability Attorney John Hogan continues to dig up details just by reading the published CBA? (Click HERE to read John’s post.) .
And for your weekend entertainment, we also added a video of James Brown‘s old classic, Talking Loud and Saying Nothing to the end of this post. . .continue reading »
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. .
Dear fellow retired players, .
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. .
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. .
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.) .
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:
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! .
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. . continue reading »