Marshall Victorious Against NFL Disability Plan in Fourth Circuit Court

Posted January 16th, 2008 by RetiredPlayers

On January 14, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit awarded former NFL linebacker Wilber Marshall approximately $72,000 in disability benefits, plus attorney fees and court costs.  Marshall filed suit against the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan after the NFL Retirement Board denied him benefits for eight months in 2001.  The Fourth Circuit found that when benefits were finally reinstated “the Board abused its discretion in selecting the onset date.”

Marshall first applied for disability benefits in 1997.  His initial application for benefits was denied.  Upon appeal, Marshall was awarded benefits retroactive to April 1, 1997.  In 2000, Marshall was examined by Medical Advisory Physician, Dr. Bernard Bach, who reported that Marshall did not meet the requirements for his existing disability benefits.  The NFL Retirement Board terminated Marshall’s benefits as of April 27, 2001.  Marshall’s appeal of the termination of benefits was denied by the Board on August 2, 2001.

On November 13, 2001, Marshall reapplied for disability benefits through the NFL.  He was examined by Dr. Walter Doren on December 7, 2001.  According to court documents, Dr. Doren reported “that Marshall was unable to work and that based on a review of Marshall’s medical records, his symptoms had remained consistent since his initial evaluation in 1997.”  The Retirement Board then referred Marshall to Medical Advisory Physician, Dr. Alfred Tria.  On February 21, 2002, Tria reported Marshall was totally and permanently disabled.  The Retirement Board eventually reinstated benefits retroactive to January 1, 2002.

Marshall disputed the effective date of the reinstatement of benefits.  Dr. Doren reported “his symptoms had remained consistent since his initial evaluation in 1997.”  The Retirement Board terminated Marshall’s disability benefits from May to December, 2001.  This dispute led to Marshall’s lawsuit and, ultimately, a victory in the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

A copy of the opinion may be viewed by clicking HERE.

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NFLPA’s Upshaw Paid More Than 96 Percent of Current NFL Players

Posted January 3rd, 2008 by RetiredPlayers

According to the National Football League Players Association’s latest tax filing with the Department of Labor, Executive Director Gene Upshaw was paid at least $6,664,577 for his union related activity for the time period from March 1, 2006, to February 28, 2007. The union’s tax filing shows that Upshaw received a Gross Salary Disbursement of $4,264,577, which includes a bonus of $3,600,000.  Upshaw also received a bonus of $2,400,000 from Players Inc, for a total of $6,664,577.

Gene UpshawThe USA Today NFL Salary Database shows only 83 of the 2,486 current NFL players the NFLPA reportedly represents had “total salaries” more than Upshaw’s $6,664,577 during the 2006 season.  A list of the total salaries of those 83 players as listed in the USA Today salary database can be viewed by clicking here. Upshaw’s union related compensation was greater than 96 percent of current NFL players total salaries for the 2006 season.  Information for the 2007 NFL season is not yet available.

Donald Fehr, Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was paid $1,000,000 for the time period from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2006, according to tax filings.  Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, was paid $2,318,259 for the period from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007.  Both Fehr and Hunter’s pay was greater than the salaries of roughly 50 percent of the players they represent in their respective unions.  About half of the players in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association made more than their union Executive Directors.  Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association salary information is available on the USA Today salary database.

RetiredPlayers.Org has spoken to several current NFL players, including former union represenatatives, who did not know Upshaw made at least $6,664,577 during the 2006 season.  If today’s players do not know what they are paying Upshaw, there is not enough transparency in his compensation package.  For instance, there is no way to determine the amount of Upshaw’s salary from Players Inc by looking at the NFLPA’s tax filings.  According to the union’s latest LM-2 filing, Upshaw’s Players Inc salary is some unknown portion of $14 million of deferred compensation.

NFL player salary and contract information is available to the general public through publications such as USA Today; shouldn’t the players who employ Upshaw be informed of the exact amount he is paid?

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