Turley to Donate Game Check

Posted November 29th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Kyle Turley has announced he will donate his entire game check from the Chiefs – Lions game on December 23, 2007 to the Gridiron Greats.  The pre-tax amount of Turley’s game check is roughly $42,000.  Gridiron Greats is a non-profit organization which provides financial assistance and social services to retired NFL players in dire need.  In a press conference on Tuesday, November 27, 2007, Turley called upon other current players to join him in donating a portion of their game checks to the cause.  The initiative is being called “Gridiron Guardian Sunday”.

Turley, a nine-year NFL veteran, said 15 to 20 players have already pledged part or all of their December 23 game checks in conjunction with Gridiron Guardian Sunday.

“They are the leaders of their teams, and I hope they stand up when their local media asks question about this,” Turley says. “I hope they educate the younger guys about why we are doing this.”

Turley has written a letter explaining the issues that will be distributed to every team’s locker room prior to December 23.

There has been much attention focused on the NFL disability plan this year as the dispute between retired players, the NFL, and NFLPA made it’s way before Congress.  Turley has been surprised by the lack of action from Gene Upshaw and the union.  “Gene just seems to be hoping that these [old players] simply fade away,” Turley said.

The NFL disability issue is nothing new to Turley.  Three years ago, after major back surgery and being released by the St. Louis Rams, he applied for NFL disability benefits and was promptly denied.  Turley said there was solid medical evidence in support of his claim for NFL disability benefits.

While the amount of money Turley is donating is significant, his speaking out on the issue is even more significant.  With active players having the ability to elect union leadership, today’s players have the ability to make a strong statement about the current union leadership’s handling of both active and retired players’ health issues.

Compensation for Retired Players is NFL’s Biggest Challenge

Posted November 26th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

In the third annual SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily Reader Survey, readers voted compensation for retired players as the biggest challenge facing the National Football League in the coming year.  Twenty-three and a half percent of the readers participating in the survey felt retired players issues posed a larger challenge to the league than revenue sharing and even maintaining labor peace.  Results of the survey were published November 26, 2007.

The wide margin of victory shows the need for the NFL and NFLPA to address the pension and disability issues facing retired players.  The league also has other very significant issues to tend with in the coming year.  Survey participants felt those issues were less important than compensation for retired players.  Owners have the ability to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement by sending a letter of termination by November 8, 2008.

Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal is a periodical that is published forty-nine times a year.  The magazine caters to business executives across the sports industry.  The participants in the survey were not casual sports fans; they were primarily executives who are very familiar with the business side of the sports industry.

Current NFL Players to Speak Regarding the Treatment of Retired Players

Posted November 21st, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

It was announced today that a group of current NFL players will announce a “ground breaking initiative” during a press conference hosted by former NFL great Mike Ditka and the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund.  The press conference is set to take place on Tuesday, November 27, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. at a restaurant owned by Mike Ditka in Chicago.

The Gridiron Greats press release states, “The event marks the first time an organized group of NFL players will speak out about and take action regarding the catastrophic conditions facing many retired NFL players due to the inadequate disability and benefits program provided by the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

The initiative being announced was created by an active, nine-year-veteran of the NFL.”

It appears the increased attention being placed on the NFL and NFLPA’s treatment of retired players has opened the eyes of some active players.  Hopefully, many more current players will join the ranks of the players speaking at the press conference on November 27th.

Parrish et al v. National Football League Players Incorporated to Proceed

Posted November 19th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

In February of 2007, former NFL players, Bernie Parrish and Herb Adderley, filed a lawsuit against Players Inc., the licensing arm of the NFLPA, alleging that retired players have been denied millions of dollars from marketing and licensing deals.

In September of this year, Judge William Alsup dismissed the complaint but gave the plaintiffs permission to file a motion for leave to file an amended complaint.  The Washington Post reports, “the players’ attorney, Ron Katz, said they needed documents from Players Inc. to buttress the charges.  Once those documents were handed over, the request to refile was made.”

A November 14, 2007, opinion from Judge Alsup states, “In their proposed pleading, plaintiffs have successfully alleged the existence of a contract between Adderley and defendants, that defendants breached the contract, and that Adderley was damaged as a result.”

The November 14, 2007 opinion was based upon the amended complaint.

A settlement conference is scheduled for February 6, 2008, in San Francisco.

Only 37.6% of Retired NFL Players are Eligible to Apply for NFL Disability Benefits

Posted November 16th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

According to page six of Gene Upshaw’s “White Paper”, “there are 4,900 vested (3 seasons or more) former players who are eligible to apply for disability benefits under the NFL/NFLPA plan, not 10,000, as has been reported in some media outlets.”  On May 16, 2007, Upshaw provided a written declaration to a Federal Court which states “there are over 13,000 retired NFL players alive today.”

Based on the information provided by Upshaw, just 4,900 of 13,000 former players are covered by the NFL/NFLPA disability plan.  Only 37.6% of retired NFL players are eligible to even apply for NFL disability benefits.  There is no guarantee a player will be awarded benefits.  According to the “White Paper”, 62.4% of former players are ineligible for NFL disability benefits.  If any of the remaining 62.4% of retired NFL players are in need of disability benefits due to their NFL related injuries, they must rely on other means, such as the taxpayer funded Social Security disability system.  Many former players have qualified for Social Security disability benefits but have been denied NFL disability benefits.

The NFL Disability Plan Spares No Expense

Posted November 9th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

Christophine Smith is the assistant director of the NFLPA benefits department and the NFLPA’s representative on the Disability Initial Claims Committee for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan.  Disability claims are decided at the first level by the Disability Initial Claims Committee.  Every disability application is reviewed and voted on by Christophine Smith, a union employee.  With only 317 of over 13,000 retired players receiving disability benefits, it seems the Disability Initial Claims Committee and the Retirement Board are very concerned about expenditures of the plan’s assets.

They must not be too concerned.  During a Retirement Board meeting on February 23 and 24, 2004, Christophine Smith had the following expenditures:

2/23/2004           $39            Breakfast
2/23/2004           $58            Lunch
2/24/2004           $1,049       Hotel Room – Loew’s Hotel Miami, Florida
2/24/2004           $39            Breakfast
2/24/2004           $64            Lunch
TOTAL                  $1,249

Christophine Smith spent $1,249 in slightly over a 24 hour period.  Her expenses were paid directly from the NFL Players Retirement and Disability Fund.  Money which could have been used to pay pension or disability benefits to former NFL players.

It should be noted that during the same year Christophine Smith spent $1,249 of the retirement plan’s assets for an overnight stay; twelve year NFL veteran and Hall of Fame player, Herb Adderley, who played in four Super Bowls and five Pro Bowls, received a pension of $1,522.20 for the entire year.  Adderley received $126.85 per month for his twelve years of NFL service.

A copy of Ms. Smith’s 2004 Department of Labor filing can be viewed by clicking HERE.  See the third page for the list of her expenditures.  Smith did not list any expenses for her travel to and from Miami.

Goodell Makes Timely Contribution to Chairman of the Judiciary Committee

Posted November 7th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not find the time to attend the June 26, 2007, House Judiciary Hearing regarding retired NFL players benefits, that doesn’t mean the Judiciary Committee wasn’t on Goodell’s mind that day.  The same day the United States Congress was looking into the National Football League’s treatment of retired players, Commissioner Goodell made a $500 campaign contribution to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers.  The June 26, 2007, donation appears to be Goodell’s first campaign contribution to Congressman Conyers.

NFL and NFLPA Fail to Meet Congressional Deadline

Posted November 4th, 2007 by RetiredPlayers

Goodell and Uphsaw attend Senate hearing.Stemming from the June 26, 2007,  House Judiciary Committee hearing on the National Football League’s treatment of retired players, Roger Goodell and Gene Upshaw received letters from the Committee posing questions which were to be answered by the NFL and NFLPA.  The Committee asked the Commissioner and Union Executive Director to provide responses to the letters by October 26, 2007, at 10:00 a.m.  More than a week has passed since the deadline and the House Judiciary Committee still has not received responses from either party.

Many retired players have complained about long delays in the processing of NFL disability claims.  Since the NFL and NFLPA have failed to respond to the United States Congress in a timely manner, how can players applying for disability benefits expect any better treatment?

Update:  As of November 5, 2007, 1:15 p.m. EST, the Judiciary Committee reported they had recently received a response from the NFL, but had not received a response to the letter addressed to Gene Upshaw.

Update:  As of November 7, 2007, 9:30 a.m. EST, the Judiciary Committee reports they have finally received a response to from the NFLPA.  The Committee also received approximately 2,000 pages of documents from the NFL and NFLPA.

Gene Upshaw Advertisement in Ebony Magazine

Posted November 1st, 2007 by RetiredPlayers Ebony MagazineThe information included in the image to the left appeared on the NFLPA website on October 18, 2007.  The NFLPA website was promoting a four page spread which appeared in the October 2007 issue of Ebony Magazine.  The union’s website states, “Ebony Magazine features Gene Upshaw and all of the successes he has brought to the union throughout his tenure.”  The NFLPA fails to mention that the “feature” is actually a paid advertisement funded by the union.  A copy of the “spread” is available in PDF format by clicking HERE.

While the NFLPA website appears to indicate the piece is an unbiased story from the author, Melanie D.G. Kaplan; it is actually a paid advertisement promoting Gene Upshaw.

According to Johnson Publishing, publisher of Ebony Magazine, the NFLPA paid for the advertisement to appear in the October 2007 edition of their magazine.  The cost of a single issue four page color advertisement in Ebony Magazine is $222,872.