Money-Flying-Out-WindowThe NFLPA just filed their 2013 LM-2 yesterday with the Dept. of Labor as required of all labor unions and associations. This year, it’s a whopping 549 pages long with plenty of disclosure including salaries, payouts and expenses. We’re just starting to look over all the information loaded in this year’s filing and we’ll post more details shortly as we come across interesting details (we encourage all our readers to send us anything you come across or simply post it in the Comments section below).
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A couple of items of interest:
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p. 555 - Marco Island Marriott Resort & Golf Club was paid $354,796 for the NFLPA’s April and June meetings in 2012.
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p. 544 - Kerzner International Resorts in Plantation FL was paid a total of $1,221,137 for a total of FOUR “2013 NFLPA Board Meetings”! (Wha?!!)
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p. 264 - The Groom Law Group (who were supposed to be fired by DeMaurice Smith when he took over as NFLPA Executive Director) and also runs and represents not only the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan but also the NFL walked away with $652,045 in fees this year.
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p. 55 - Nike paid $11,772,308 in licensing fees.
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p. 45 - Attorney Jeffrey Kessler had a $12,846 transaction for Super Bowl tickets and rooms.
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Meanwhile, Kessler’s new firm Winston Strawn was paid (his old firm, Dewey LaBoeuf filed for bankruptcy last year):

  • p. 82 - $3,932,388
  • p. 538 - $124,592
  • p. 538 - $46,879

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p. 20 - Nolan Harrison III received $226,055 as Senior Director of Former Players.
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p. 18 - Andre Collins only received $169,253 as Director of Former Players.
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Nolan Harrison Pink Bowtie
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Thus spoke Nolan Harrison III in another one of his “Former Players Newsletters” about meetings and conferences earlier this week in Sacramento about a newly proposed State Bill A.B. 1309. In case you hadn’t heard, Bill 1309 “would exempt minor and major league professional athletes from filing workers comp claims in California if their team is based outside of the state, according to the California Legislature website. Currently, California’s “cumulative trauma” provision in its workers comp law allows players to make a claim in California if they have played at least one game in the state.”
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“The legislation would apply to professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer players who play temporarily in California.”
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This summary was from BusinessInsurance.com.
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We’re wondering what planet Nolan Harrison III was writing from. A contingent of retired players was definitely present on Monday, including Conrad Dobler, Ron Mix, Mel Owens and George Visger among others. In fact, here’s a direct report from George that we received that evening:
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George VisgerMel Owens contacted me when a bunch of the players met for dinner the night before. Dobler, Mix, Ickey Woods and several others were in attendance. The next morning, 25 – 30 of us met at the attorney/lobbyists, broke into 5 groups and each team met face-to-face with several Senators, Congress folks and various other legislators at the Capitol.
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Then we had a sitdown lunch with all. I sat with Senator Perez who was shocked to hear what was going on. De came striding into the room like a politician. Fake handshakes and “Hi, De Smith” as he went around the room. Shook my hand and his face dropped when I squeezed his and said ‘George Visger!’ Then he started babbling about how I’m doing, etc. Conrad and I caught him in the hall a bit later and ripped him til he slithered away.
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All in all, it was a GREAT meeting with all.
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George
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And disability attorney John Hogan had a few words to add:
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April 24, 2013
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An Open Response to Nolan Harrison’s Letter to Stop California Workers Comp Reform
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Nolan,
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I can’t remember when I have read a more hypocritical or disingenuous piece about retired NFL players.
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In your open letter to retired players, you attempted to castigate retired players for not showing up in Sacramento, California to lobby against the Bill pending in that state which might stop or limit retired players from being able to file a worker’s comp claim there. First, as a full time employee of the NFLPA, I assume that your expenses were paid by the PA to travel from the east coast to the west. I know you are a big guy and I have a difficult time imagining you squeezing into a coach airplane seat for a cross-country trek. Are you so out of touch with the real world of pre-’93 retired players that you do not realize few can afford to make that trip? Apart from the unaffordable cost, many of these men are in too much pain to spend the better part of a day in an airplane (or two) even if they had a first class seat.
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Second, while I’m delighted that so many guys have been able to obtain benefits through the unique California Workman’s Comp loophole which allows them to file decades after they retired from the NFL, surely you must appreciate the significant administrative costs being borne by the State of California in the adjudication of these claims. (i.e. – It isn’t just the teams and their insurance carriers bearing the costs of adjudicating these claims.) As far as I know, California, like many other states (and unlike the NFL) is in financial crisis.
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As you know, the CBA requires that all teams must provide workers’ compensation benefits; and in states where WC claims are barred for professional athletes, they must effectively be self-insured to handle these claims. Unlike many of us “bloggers” and “so-called former player organization leaders” – and despite our best efforts, including major litigation in the Eller case, we do not have a seat at the table in bargaining for retired players’ rights and benefits. In that regard, we are at the whims and mercy of the PA. That being the case, why aren’t you, DeMaurice Smith, Cornelius Bennett, et al lobbying for every state which is home to a professional sports franchise to have a liberal worker’s comp benefit like California’s?
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Worker’s Compensation is a creature of state law and each state has various criteria. In general, a worker must file an injury claim while still employed, or very shortly thereafter. Again, I am delighted that many of my friends have been able to obtain money and medical benefits from California, but why should retired football players be treated differently (under state law) than a guy who digs ditches? Or someone who works in a steel mill? Anyone who performs arduous physical labor which takes a toll on their body as they get older? No state should treat retired NFL players differently than other workers who toil in their state and suffer injury. But the NFL should – and it should be up to the PA to make sure that they do!
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As you know and as I have learned, the manifestation of injuries suffered during an NFL career – including the sequelae of concussions – often takes place many years after playing days are over. The worker’s compensation systems of the various states are not geared to handle such latent injuries and untimely claims. The disability benefits offered under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Players Retirement Plan (also a creature of the CBA) contemplate the fact that injuries – or at least total disability – can take up to 15 years after retirement to manifest. That being the case, what has the PA done to advocate a better disability system which would include more generous and longer line of duty benefits? (That is, for guys who have impairment for injury but might still be working; and/or not totally disabled.)
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Your letter mentions that one of the most important aspects of workers’ comp benefits is lifetime medical benefits. That is true; and they are invaluable. However, the benefits are only for the particular injured body part, not for unrelated or general medical issues.
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If the PA really wanted to show leadership, they would convince today’s players that having lifetime medical benefits is much more valuable in the long run than having a present day multimillion dollar contract. (Oh, you would have to convince Agents like Tom Condon that they would get less money for actually having the best interest of their clients at heart – good luck with that!) If the PA was really concerned about retired players well-being, they would be fighting incessantly for lifetime medical benefits for retired players. They paid their dues. They made the game what it is today. The money is there.
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Retired players shouldn’t have to count on a unique loophole in California’s laws to get the benefits they deserve. You should know that.
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While I do not handle worker’s compensation claims and am not a member of the California Bar, it would seem to be unconstitutional to extinguish claims which have already been filed – should this bill pass.
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John Hogan at the officeSincerely,
John V. Hogan
Disability Attorney
Retired NFL Player Advocate
Member of Fourth and Goal
Proud contributor to Dave Pear’s Blog
Sponsor, Buffalo Bills Alumni Association
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And yes – we’ll be covering this topic in detail at our upcoming IFV Conference in Las Vegas May 3 – 5. We’ll also be covering equally important areas of interest to retired football players including the concussion lawsuits and both sides will be presenting their opposing points of view in the NFL Films lawsuit. Not engaged? Maybe Nolan Harrison III might want to spend less of HIS time and YOUR money on golf tournaments and actually start listening to retired players (after he stops talking about himself, of course!).
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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…
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Over the past couple of weeks, absolutely nothing of any serious significance or substance out of the NFLPA regarding retired players pensions especially that new Legacy Fund, other than a lot of the same chest-thumping and empty rhetoric that everyone has been hearing since the lockout ended late this summer. It would certainly seem like the lawyers have taken over once again and put out that Say Nothing Memo.
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There was a meeting of the Seattle Chapter (probably much like other chapter meetings across the country) where the usual 8 members – out of approximately 48 NFLPA members listed in the Seattle area – showed up and voted on a few things that we’re sure will make a huge difference to all retirees: The meeting introduced some Business Opportunities (Hair Products!), the Touchdowns for Homes Programs, as well as some discussion on the School of Legends program. We also finally have some backhanded acknowledgment from the NFLPA HQ about loss of hearing from football (a shiny new discount hearing aid program!).
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In our last post - click HERE if you’d like to read it again – we posted an exchange of e-mails from Bob Kuechenberg with questions on the current CBA, the Legacy Fund and benefits in general for retired players (particularly the pre-93ers). For weeks, those within the NFLPA have been stonewalling retirees with vague answers as well as pointing the finger at others to lay blame for lack of any clarity on what and how retired players will be receiving “new” benefits. One thing the PA has shown consistency with has always been, “We know what’s best for retired players and you’ll get what’s left AFTER we’ve already carved up the pie for the active players. And by the way – no one can talk about this stuff at local chapter meetings because it’s too negative and divisive!”
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What’s worse: The NFLPA was invited to the table for a real opportunity to sit down with the Commissioner and representatives of the retired players in September because “they were being sued by the retired players” so they couldn’t show up. Never mind that Nolan Harrison III and Jim McFarland were invited – AND attended – the first meeting and subsequent conference calls with the largest unified collective of retired players representatives to have ever assembled for one goal: To take charge of their own pension and disability benefits. And never mind that the non-Union (decertified) individuals and the League were also subsequently sued by retired players at that time. (EDITOR’S NOTE: To Jim McFarland’s credit, he’s been the only man on the inside who’s been speaking up on the real issues relevant to retired players but of course, no one seems to be listening to him and he has absolutely NO vote.)
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Another exchange that Bob Kuechenberg recently had with your NFLPA representatives who are still asking what’s important to retired players. (?!!) The only three things that matter to retired football players have always been – and will always continue to be – real access to THEIR EARNED:
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• Disability Benefits
• Pension Benefits
• Medical after football
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Some of you may also recall several chapter presidents resigned in recent years in protest after being told what they could and could not talk about at chapter meetings
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EDITOR’S NOTE:
This first e-mail was just added on Saturday afternoon:

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The peasants are now at the gate

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In any revolution, it’s always interesting to hear comments coming in from both sides of the fence. In the case of NFLPA and the retired player community at large, the battle lines could almost be drawn as a battle between the Haves vs. the Have-Nots. The royalty are holed up in their ivory tower enjoying the privileges that any inside clique always seem to enjoy, oblivious to the starving peasants outside the palace walls. Even with the growing voices of thousands of their fellow retired players getting louder by the day, there are still those in denial.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave has still been included in this ongoing local (Seattle) e-mail chain from yesterday as he’s still a dues-paying member of the NFLPA. We’re posting these four latest e-mail exchanges here in unedited format for viewing and we’re also posting a separate rebuttal in a second post (click HERE).
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From: Harrison, Nolan [mailto:Nolan.HarrisonIII@nflplayers.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:35 PM
Subject: RE: Former Player’s Benefit Increase?
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There will be an official benefits statement coming from both parties. A couple of things that were accidentally left out of the CBA summary (sorry, everyone is rushing to meet the memberships demand for information) was the improvements to Plan 88 more on workers comp and long term care.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: 9:30 PM PST – Judy Battista’s story just posted on the New York Times – Click HERE to read this breaking story.
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On Friday afternoon, a small group of us were informed about the details a conference call that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had with the attorneys and a small team of retired players from the Eller class action lawsuit. All of us were shocked to hear the news that there was an additional $500 million offered to the retirees that had gone undisclosed to them. From what we understand so far, the money would supposedly be earmarked for “charities, medical research, etc.” and then “managed” under the auspices of the PA. We’ll continue confirm and report more details as the story breaks over the next few days.
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In the meantime, we want to talk a little about how the Internet and social networks have changed the world of communications for better and for worse. We’ve watched an entire revolution take place in Egypt with the fall of the Mubarek regime that started with social network Twitter. And that revolution continues to spread across the Middle East. But social networks like Twitter can also be used to spread gossip and misinformation. And that also seems to happen more often than people may imagine. Fortunately, there’s also a good side to that as well. Leaving a trail of crumbs behind you is not exactly a smart strategy.
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EDITOR’S NOTE July 25, 2011: Looks like the CBA is being ratified by the active players today and now the battle is just beginning for the retired players. Hall of Famers listed in our Declaration of Independence have been receiving calls all weekend directly from people at the former NFLPA asking them why they signed on to this movement. And some retired player reps inside the former NFLPA offices are sending out messages and calling retirees to try and keep everyone confused and herded into their corner. So NOW you start calling retirees? AFTER the negotiations are done? Retired players were not allowed into final discussions and negotiations even after the judge ordered both the League and the active players to acknowledge and include them equally. So now the negotiations are over and no one can even provide details on what exactly has been “negotiated” as table scraps for retirees and they want each of you to simply roll over and take what they toss you as an afterthought? The NFLPA has already been found guilty of breach of fiduciary duty in the past and have done little or nothing to improve the lives and conditions for its retired player community as a whole. Retired players want to manage and gain full access to their own disability and pension benefits. NOW. Please be sure to sign the Retired Players Declaration of Independence – Click HERE. And be sure to pass it along!
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I just received my shiny new NFLPA membership card and letter a couple of days ago and boy, can a lot of stuff change in a year. First of all, the CBA is still being debated among the player reps inside the PA so the ‘Union’ is still basically decertified. Which should mean that they can’t represent the players – active OR retired. And one of the reasons why individual players like Drew Brees and Tom Brady had to file suit against the League and the owners individually. So what’s a poor Union to do? Well, take a look at the letter I just got from Nolan Harrison, Senior Director NFLPA Former Players, (on NFLPA stationery, no less) sent along with my new card (click on the thumbnails to enlarge for easier reading):
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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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On April 4th, representatives of the National Football League acknowledged the need to provide “important improvements in retired player benefits.” They stated it was the “fair” and “right” thing to do in “respect” and “recognition” of their contributions to the game. The League said the retirees “voice” needs to be heard.
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On May 25th, the largest collective group of representatives of retired NFL Players ever assembled met a second time to reach a consensus on a series of united proposals for these needed improvements.
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The League has said that everyone needs to “focus on negotiations” because “there is a deal to be made.” We agree. The retirees therefore unanimously agreed to submit to the League a detailed framework for changes in retiree pensions, medical coverage and benefits, and disability programs. The framework will also include a component of medical monitoring for retirees that is designed to detect or prevent illness or disease at its earliest stages and provide for timely treatment.
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The retirees invite the League to be available for meetings beginning as early as Tuesday, May 31, to discuss this framework, exchange ideas and comments, and be best prepared to reach resolution when mediation formally resumes on June 7th and 8th in Minneapolis.
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As expressed in the April 4th letter from the League to the retirees, the League wished to hear the “voice” of the retirees. We are speaking. It’s now time for the League to listen.
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Any questions concerning this press release should be directed to Michael Hausfeld at Hausfeld LLP (202) 540-7200 or Daniel Mason, Mark Feinberg, or Shawn D. Stuckey at Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason (612) 336-9100.
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Retired NFL Players’ Representatives’ Unite!
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The largest collective group of representatives for retired NFL players ever assembled met yesterday in Minneapolis, Minnesota and agreed to unanimously support the class action litigation brought by retired NFL players against the League and its member clubs. That lawsuit is now pending before Judge Susan Nelson in federal court in Minneapolis.
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Among those present were:
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(c) 2010 Tom Fishburne

(c) 2010 Tom Fishburne

John Hogan’s comments to our prior post from Evan Weiner and Randy Cross struck a chord with us:

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