Is the NFLPA Retired Players Department Relevant?

Posted March 5th, 2009 by RetiredPlayers

The current state of the NFLPA Retired Players Department has left many retirees looking for representation elsewhere.  In recent years the membership of many chapters of the NFL Retired Players Association has dropped dramatically. Less than 175 of the NFL’s 13,000 retirees attended the NFLPA Retired Players Convention in Puerto Rico in 2008.   This has led to many retirees questioning the relevance of the organization. Andre Collins, the director of the retired players department of the NFLPA, did not attend a single session of  the three week class action trial regarding retired player licensing.  Also absent was NFLPA Retired Players Steering Committee President Jean Fugett.


NFLPA Retired Players Steering Committee President Jean Fugett

The NFLPA has stated that every dollar that goes to retirees comes from the pockets of today’s active players.  This has lead to what many perceive as an adversarial relationship between NFL retirees and current players.  The Retired Players Department at the NFLPA offices has done little to create a relationship between today’s and yesterday’s players.  Many retirees feel that if they had a forum to discuss these issues with current players that it would be a positive for both groups.

Retired Players Steering Committee President Jean Fugett will attend the active players annual meeting in Hawaii next weekend.  Fugett will appear to represent the NFL’s 13,000 retirees.  In reality, Fugett only represents the less than 175 NFLPA Retired Players members who voted in the Steering Committee election in Puerto Rico.

During his trip to Hawaii, Fugett has said he will not discuss the current lack of communication between active and retired players.  Nor will he discuss the possibility of resolving the retired players class action lawsuit as several steering committee members and chapter presidents have requested.

Fugett will not carry the message of the majority of NFL retirees to the active players in Hawaii.  Active players should realize that while Fugett speaks in Hawaii he is representing roughly one percent of the NFL retired player population.

The relationship between active and retired players needs to improve.  Open, uncensored communication is the first step in the healing process.

The speech Fugett gave to active players in 2008 can be viewed by clicking HERE.

7 Responses to “Is the NFLPA Retired Players Department Relevant?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Kurt Ward

    you all need to get someone on the NFL PA to actively lobby for a few key changes in the nfl disability plan:

    (1) redact the reservation of discretion in Section 8.2 because this will dramatically help players litigate their disability claim on a 50/50 playing field;

    (2) redact or revise the exclusion provision in Section 5.1 that prevents players from electing early retirement and then filing for disability;

    (3) revise the claim procedures to limit the ability to doctor shop… for example, the current claim procedures allow the nfl player benefit office the opportunity to send former players applying for disability out to three (3) medical examinations in hopes of finding one doctor that does not support the disability application.

    note – because of the reservation of discretion mentioned in (1) above, when one physician says the disability applicant can work as a security monitor or telemarketer, the possibility of winning the claim in court is seriously diminished.

    (4) get a better definition of benevolent employment as it is discussed in Section 5.2.

    note – if a former player is still working in almost any capacity and applies for nfl disability, then that player gets denied because he is employed. because the nfl system can take almost a year to complete from application, to three (3) nfl medical exams, to a final decision, the applicant must be out of work and without any means of financial support during this process… that creates a very harsh situation for many applicants.

    best regards-
    kurt ward

  2. comment number 2 by: Larry Hand

    I feel very concerned about all I hear coming from of both Current and Retired NFL Players. Likewise from all the people jocking to take over the leadersip of the NFL Players Association. Both current and former NFL Players have alot of issues to address which they haven’t. Life sometimes can be the best Teacher. Example Dad is retiring says Son it’s time for you to run the farm. Now dad only paid $ 10,000 for the farm which is now worth $ 10,000,000 so Son says I need help and decides he needs an attorney ( which by the way probably came to the Son and told him all the great things he was going to do for him ). The attorney now tells the Son it’s your farm forget about Dad, Mom your brothers and sisters because without you there wouldn’t be any Farm. It would be nice if Current and Retired Players could come together and discuss common goals and do what’s right and not give in to alot of self-serving outsiders who are making both Current and Retired players looking like the Village Idiot’s. Remember Son just remember your getting close to retiring and that attorney is not going to be on your side of the table!

  3. comment number 3 by: Dave Pear

    Dear Jean Fugett,

    As an officer of the court (attorney) have you ever complained about the problems with the NFL disability system?


    Dave Pear
    NFL 1975- 80
    Social Security Disability

  4. […] We’re back and we’re ready to bring you more “Reasons We Do What We Do” for retired players as we countdown the days before the NFLPA Meetings in Hawaii. With only 10 days to go, our #10 Reason “We Do What We Do” is No Representation. When it comes to the NFLPA’s treatment of retired players we’re always left with more questions than answers. However, there is one question that needs to be answered sooner rather than later and our good friends posed it an article published yesterday. You can read the entire article HERE. […]

  5. comment number 5 by: Antoinette Wilson

    I believe that the NFLPA Retired Players Department is a relevant component of services provide to former NFL players. Having said this, like the Director of Player Development Department, the NFLPA and NFL need to get serious about the qualifications of the individuals put in these positions.

    Having been a player is important and brings relevency to the table, but being a former player without credentials is something else. Most of the people in those positions do not have the credentials to do the tasks.

  6. comment number 6 by: Larry Harris

    I recently spoke to my ex NFL coach, O.A. Bum Phillips. He is aware of my mistreatment and the mistreatment of all the retired players, by the NFL Players Union and its weapon, the Bert Bell Pension Act. I played and traveled with my team, the Houston Oilers, for a good 5 years, and more and yet receive no pension and have never been given credit for all the years I dedicated to my team and league.

    I have been active with the NFLPA, in a limited capacity, off and on, for some 10 years, because of its lack of interest in my pension and benefit relationship with that organization. I want to be more involved, but I like so many other retired players, I feel like we are just left out in the cold, like some unclaimed orphan.

    The NFL Retired Players group has helped me and my family, when we needed a few thousand dollars, for family emergencies. I have also been denied emergency help from that same group, so I know that there are those in the NFLPA who understand what retired players are going through every day, but I also know that there are those within the NFLPA who have no idea of the kind of life that some of us retired players go through, with our families in tow, every day.

    In that same and sometimes desperate and painful life, we retired players also have to try and live as a reminder to that great game, its players and its great fans that once knew us as prideful and honorable heroes.

    I am hopeful that players, like me will, some day, belong to a fair and just players association with a fair and just pension plan. I am hopeful that all NFL players who once wore their teams jerseys in pride and worked hard for their team and for their league, will, some day, be considered a valuable part of this great group of heroes.

    This situation is difficult for the retired players and for their wives and families.

    I have been outspoken about my opinion of the relationship between retired players and active players. I am certain that active players would like to have us retired players representing them, out in the communities, in the good and positive light that they deserve, while they continue their warrior responsibilities on the playing field.

    We can work together as true brothers and as true teammates. As a complete whole, the NFL and the NFLPA have the potential to move social and economic mountains for the great communities that we represent. If we remain separated, we will never be able to fully serve our communities the way we were meant to. Let us all come together, as one. Let us all treat each other as brothers and teammates.

  7. comment number 7 by: Rory Graves

    I’m a retired player of eight years total. I vested six years as a veteran of the NFL. The retired players department needs to make some serious changes as far as eligibility is concerned for retired players. Its relevant if retired players are assisted in the right way. My problem is that I applied for early retirement after I turned 45 knowing what I could do taking the early retirement pension,but a week after I turned 45 I had a stroke and could not receive disability benefits from the NFL because I was already getting money from the pension plan that was not helping me pay the monthly bills that I was getting because of my disability. I need help.