EDITOR’S NOTE: Is there a pattern here? As always, nothing ever really changes with the NFL (and the NFLPA by association). After years of propaganda and misinformation, the League announced that Dr. No Ira Casson and Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman would no longer be running the MTBI Committee (that’s the MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Committee – LoL!). Just like when he was first brought on board to replace Gene Upshaw in 2009, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith announced that he was firing the Groom Law Group because it was a conflict of interest. (But according to their latest tax returns, it turns out the NFLPA still managed to pay Groom Law Group over $1 million in fees last year.) And just like the San Diego Chargers’ controversial Dr. DWI Chao lobbied on the NFL’s behalf to ensure that Junior Seau’s brain did NOT get into the hands of pathologist and CTE scientist Dr. Bennet Omalu. It seems clear that none of these people have any intention of real change – it’s all about how much less it costs to hire PR spin doctors to change public perceptions instead. We were debating which title would be more appropriate for this post: Different Day, Same Crap! or You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! . So now comes this latest piece from Patrick Hruby that finds Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman still working deep inside the NFL. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick. .
EDITOR’S NOTE: At our recent Conference, we covered the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit and subsequent Settlement Offer from the NFL. Our first day had attorney Yakub Hazzard explaining some of the basics of your individual rights (click HERE for that video). Then on Saturday, we had Ron Mix putting up the case in favor of the proposed Settlement (click HERE) followed by attorney Michael Ciresi with a legal opinion against the deal (click HERE) and Fred Dryer as a retired player and original plaintiff on why he and his original team of plaintiffs are against the Settlement (click HERE). Insomuch as there was a gag order placed on all parties during the hearings in Minnesota Federal Court, we did our best to report on as much of the proceedings and behind-the-scenes maneuvering as possible. . We need to remind everyone once again that when the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit was first filed in 2009, its original – and primary – goal was to provide fair payment to retired players for the NFL’s past, present and future use of their publicity rights, particularly in NFL Films productions. Here’s a simple outline based on what was discussed at the IFV Conference this year: . PRESENT LAWSUIT STATUS . On April 5, 2013 the Court issued an Order for Preliminary Approval of the proposed Settlement as advocated by the NFL and some new Plaintiffs and their attorneys. Immediately, the NFL PR machine promoted it publicly as a done deal. Far from it. The actual Order directs that a Notice of the proposal be sent in May to the entire class – that’s you and all past NFL players – for consideration. If the proposed Settlement receives Final Approval from the Court in September, each NFL player who does not opt out will be legally bound by its terms. But now the real battle begins. .continue reading »
Brain concussions. CTE. Alcohol and drugs. Take these issues that have only recently become more openly discussed along with 101 more ingredients in family life and you have a very complicated recipe for making a family work (or not). Family life isn’t easy at times as it is but when you stir in all these other layers from a career in professional football, life off the field becomes incredibly complex for most families. Watch as Brandi Winans (formerly married to the recently departed Jeff Winans – Bills, Saints, Buccaneers, Raiders 1973 – 1980; Jeff played with teammates Dave Pear and Gene Upshaw on the winning Super Bowl XV Raiders in 1980) and John Houser (LA Rams, Cowboys, Cardinals 1957 – 1963) share personal stories of family survival with the audience of their very different lives after football. . 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. .
. Our good friend, Jennifer Thibeaux, (who can never be acknowledged enough for all of her advocacy work on behalf of retired players and who has managed to help us film each of our three Conferences so we can share them with the community at large) had declined our invitation to be up on stage with Brandi and John. But as she worked through the post-Conference task of editing and uploading all of this footage, her thoughts kept taking her back to her personal family experiences of having lived through the football life. Late last night, I received a personal message from Jennifer about how this has affected her own family and why she continues to help us get the message out to the other families in particular and to the fans in general. . Here’s Jennifer’s message along with her audio comments: . Robert, . I took some time and collected my thoughts about my football experiences. This is by no means the end of my sharing…but it is my way to begin the process of getting it out of my head and into the universe properly. I have tried to characterize my own experiences so that I could give it the proper brand. The best I can come up with is, “Indefinite Hell“. While I was designing new bling tees for my Tee business, I was compelled to design this brand into a Tee (below – click image to enlarge). . . Has an interesting meaning both verbally and visually. After I made the tee, it was officially time to speak. I hope you can share these beginning thoughts with the DavePear.com family – my family – as we fight for human rights and against injustices..Love you all with every ounce of my being …and I’m in this to win. . Jennifer .
. Click the PLAY button to listen to Jennifer’s personal commentary (13 minutes). .
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend, Spencer Kopf, called in and was miffed to read an e-mail from Jeff Nixon that described the NFLPA’s great historical contributions to advancing the livelihood of its players. The story was just that: A story. The real history and events during the negotiations of the 1982 strike were well-documented and supported by many of the players who were actually there when it all went down. Here’s Spencer’s letter: . Dear Jeff, . I have been asked by the undersigned former players to address your most recent communication to the NFL Alumni. In your March 2, 2013 post, you wrote: .
“In 1982, our NFL Players Association demanded, among other things, that its members receive 55% of the league’s gross revenues. The owners told us to take a hike. So we did, and we didn’t return until seven regular-season games had been lost. The owners were forced to return $50 million to the networks. Although we were not successful in getting 55% of League revenues, we did accomplish some things that are still having a lasting impact on current players.” . If by “we” you mean the NFLPA itself, you could not be wider off the mark. The players of the past certainly deserve credit for accomplishments that have benefited players of the present. However, by juxtaposing “our NFL Players Association” with “we” you have created (perhaps unintentionally) a false sense of equivalence. If the history of the NFLPA has anything to teach us, it’s that the NFLPA has never acted as if it and its past constituents were one and the same. .continue reading »
Like the old saying goes, “Charity Begins at Home.” Americans are among the most generous people in the world. Recently, a list was published that actually listed some of the top nonprofits in America and the compensation that their respective CEO’s collected for leading those organizations. It was an eye-opener to see that the CEO’s of certain so-called nonprofits were paid in the millions annually, while others only collected token salaries more in line with their charitable missions. For example, the former head of the Boy Scouts of America was paid over $1 million while the COO of the American Cancer Society almost made $1 million last year. In contrast, the head of the Salvation Army took home a relatively paltry $130,000. . Here’s a snapshot from Charity Watch showing some of their Top 25 Nonprofit CEO Salaries: . . The top salary on this list from 2012 was $2 million+ to Peter Cordeiro who heads the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.You can view the rest of the chart by clicking HERE. . And how much closer to home than Roger Goodell and the NFL? It’s only becoming more widely known that the NFL operates as a 501 (c) 6 nonprofit, with all the special benefits that a nonprofit enjoys. And keep in mind that many years ago, they also received an antitrust exemption from Congress. .continue reading »
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: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:
Another inside look at how the NFLPA functions at its core particularly when it comes to retired players: Bruce Laird spent many years alongside Sam Havrilak as officers of the local chapter for the NFLPA in Baltimore. And during many of those years, Bruce and his fellow alumni also ran Fourth and Goal, a nonprofit and advocacy group for retired players which managed to provide assistance to those players in need. Now that George Martin’s NFL Alumni has been marginalized, it seems that the NFLPA only recently noticed that Bruce and Sam have been running Fourth and Goal while also working within their Baltimore chapter! Hard to tell if the PA is trying to clean house now that the Alumni is gone or if they only just realized that Bruce and Sam have been voicing their opinions for years about the real plight of retired players. Perhaps Gene Upshaw stopped by to remind them… .continue reading »
Last Friday, the NFLPA wrote a sanctimonious letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding their indignation over the League’s use of replacement referees in this new season. The NFLPA has continued to whittle away at retirees’ benefits and rights with each passing agreement all while trying to point out what a great job they did for retirees – and let’s not forget overlooking the widows – in the new CBA. Their hypocrisy deserves a cynical and sarcastic response for all the Union’s whining after the CBA was signed (and let’s not forget that DeMaurice Smith was bragging about what a terrific deal he had cut right after it was signed last year; it earned him a new multimillion dollar contract and bonus). . So we’ve reproduced the NFLPA’s letter below (on the left) and written a similar letter back to him – and the NFL – on behalf of retired players (on the right). Enjoy!Click on each image to enlarge for easier reading and printing. . . . .
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. .
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
First, some news and the intro: Retired players lost Round 1 in their battle to wrest control of their pensions and benefits away from the NFLPA. In her final motion filed last week in Minnesota court, Judge Nelson dismissed the Eller et al lawsuit brought against the NFLPA, Tom Brady and Mike Vrabel. That said, much of the motion left several issues open that will allow Hausfeld LLP and Zelle Hofmann to file an appeal shortly. What continues to be unclear is how the NFLPA could actually declare that they had negotiated retired players benefits when they were decertified as Union during the lockout last year. Magically, retired players benefits were negotiated in the short period after the Union recertified and then announced the shiny new CBA they had finalized. Got that? More analysis on this development in a future post. .continue reading »
This is a copy of a handout given out by the NFLPA to show their great work to Certified Contract Advisors at the annual Sports Lawyers Association conference recently held in San Diego CA. . So if they did such a great job, where did all that money go for the retired players? The NFL has now officially stated for the record that they were already offering to put up 51% of what was needed to cover an increase to widows’ benefits if the NFLPA put up the other 49% (read about that on an earlier post – clickHERE). And a large number of retired players are still reporting back that they have yet to even hear back from the fund on their Legacy Benefits while others are already receiving their retroactive checks and increased payments. So maybe it’s time to stop bragging and show retired players and their families the money, Mr. Smith. . We’ve posted a copy of the handout to Scribd for viewing and to make it downloadable. You can also click the Fullscreen button in the lower right corner of the screen to enlarge it for easier navigation (just hit the ESC key to close): . 2012 SLA NFLPA Meeting Notes . EDITOR’S NOTE:Best analysis so far from Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk: . Click HERE to read that article. .
Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner: THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS .
Tuesday, 15 May 2011 . BY EVAN WEINER NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM COMMENTARY .
Steve Bartkowski wikipedia
Steve Bartkowski, a newly elected member of the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame, is one of hundreds of former National Football League players who are suing their former employers for what best can be described as negligence for allegedly not telling league employees, the players, of the possible long time impact on the body of playing football. Bartkowski, who played with the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams between 1975 and 1985, has an assortment of ailments that came from playing. . Bartkowski “signed up” for the lawsuit for family reasons although the suicide of a former teammate Ray Easterling in April may have played a role. . “I signed up basically for my wife,” said Bartkowski. “I just don’t want her having to wheel my chair towards the sunset so I can watch it set. I am more concerned about her and her quality of life if things should take a turn for the worst. I mean I got dinged as many times probably a lot of these other guys.” . Bartkowski looks physically good for a man of about 60. But he has many scars from playing the game. . “I think for the first time we are starting to see some of the effects, the long term effects. The game. I don’t know if we tracked injuries like they are tracking them now. And I think we have some evidence that people can point to and say this is what has happened,” said Bartkowski. “I am all for trying to make the game safer for guys who are playing or at least make them aware of what some of the long-term sort of debilitating effects can be. . “What have I got? Well, I got two knees replaced after nine operations. I am sure there are some other things that are approaching. I have a bad hip, I got a left elbow that doesn’t work very good anymore. But I think we know what we sign up for. It is a physical game. You are in a car wreck every weekend that you play in and sometimes multiple car wrecks, so it’s part of the issue. I hope it doesn’t end up shaping the game going forward but I do hope the guys who need help get it from the appropriate sources.” . The “appropriate sources” should start with the National Football League Players Association since benefits are collectively bargained between the owners and players. The NFLPA did a rotten job protecting the membership’s long-term future by asking for “Money Now” in 1982 and has always been more concerned about money than long time health issues. The players played games on awful surfaces in places like Philadelphia and Houston yet that didn’t seem to be a concern of the NFLPA. . “I think so (referring to both the NFL owners and the NFLPA), those are the guys that are driving the bus on this,” said Bartkowski. “I think the NFL has acknowledged that there are some long tern effects from the game and I think that is the reason for some of the safety measures that Commissioner (Roger) Goodell is trying to implement and sort of evolved the game.” . Players from Bartkowski’s era got as much as five years of medical benefits after they were cut or retired. Some of the Bartkowski era players are now living in the United States safety net and receive Social Security Disability Insurance and are on Medicare long before their 65th birthday. . “I don’t think we even got five (years) when I was playing, it may be that now,” he recalled. . “The new collective bargaining agreement, I think, covers a lot more than what the old one did.” . So who is responsible for the care of the discarded players? . “That’s a great question,” said Bartkowski. “I think the major thing in the (law)suit was how much did the NFL know about the concussion issue and when did they know it? I think that to me is really the issue. If there were guys out there doing the head banging and didn’t know the long term effects could cause early onset dementia and some of the other things that we are seeing out there in the retired player community, I think somebody is liable for that I would think. Not only the player when he signs his contract, when he signs up for that sort of a violent sport but at the same time the issue is what did they know and when did they know it?” . Bartkowski played with Ray Easterling for three years in Atlanta between 1975 and 1977. Eastlerling shot himself to death in April. Two former NFL players Easterling and Junior Seau committed suicide within a month of one another. . Easterling was 62 and seemed to have the same physical and mental health issues that face many former players. Reportedly he suffered from depression and insomnia. He underwent 25 different surgeries and had a hip replacement. In March 2011, Easterling was diagnosed with dementia in March 2011. . “I had a former teammate of mine who was in the early stages of dementia, Ray Easterling. He just decided he wasn’t going to put his family through it and he ended up taking his own life” said Bartkowski. “I watched Ray going downhill. He was one of the hardest hitting guys. He never backed down on a drill and never backed down on a Sunday afternoon. He was a great teammate but I don’t think he had any idea what he was sacrificing later on in the latter stages of his life. . “I talked to him, he asked me to write a letter in support of his case and I just looked at his chronology of his slide down the hill and was happy to write the letter and say what I saw. Ray was one of the smartest, sharpest guys that I ever teed it up with so to speak and to watch him where he couldn’t carry on a conversation was very difficult.” . Memory loss is a common thread in the discarded players’ community. . “I’ve got some of that too,” said Bartkowski. “It is hard for me to remember a lot of things.” . The lawsuits have been filed, consolidated and will eventually go to court. Nothing is going to be settled anytime soon but the game of football figures to be put on trail. . “I’m sure it will,” said Bartkowski of how long the lawsuit may take before it is finally settled. “There are extenuating circumstances in all these different cases. But I think if it does nothing more than move the game to safer turf and safer territory for the guys who love it and would have played it if they didn’t get paid to play it. I was one of those guys, I loved the thrill of Sunday afternoon and being out there and playing with the boys. I didn’t know what the long term effects might be and didn’t really care about them at that point in time. . “If we can make the game safer and make it a little more easier on you in your twilight years then I am all for that.” .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . .