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ARTICLE: Upshaw questions DeMarco's claim

Discussion in 'NFL Zone' started by Angus, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    Union boss questions DeMarco's claim
    NFL’s Upshaw says disabled player has been getting money

    By Don Pierson
    Tribune pro football reporter

    June 12, 2007, 12:37 AM CDT

    The NFL Players Association produced copies of seven checks sent on behalf of former player Brian DeMarco for $9,748.81 in the last nine months after DeMarco appeared at a Chicago news conference and on Chicago television Monday to claim he was getting no help from the union for what he called crippling disabilities.

    "No one in my office could believe this was the guy they were talking about," said NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw on Monday night. "We've been taking care of this guy."

    DeMarco, 35, former offensive lineman for Jacksonville and Cincinnati, appeared at Mike Ditka's restaurant as part of an ongoing effort by "Gridiron Greats" to help retired players in dire need.

    Gridiron Greats was started by former Green Bay guard Jerry Kramer, who enlisted Ditka's help. While Upshaw pointed to the emergency aid provided DeMarco, Jennifer Smith, executive director of the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, told the New York Times that DeMarco's main concern was not the emergency assistance the union had provided, but the long-term medical costs that he would face throughout his life.

    "The dire-need funds have nothing to do with long-term disability," Smith said. "He has sent in four different disability forms that have never been addressed by the NFLPA and we had heard a variety of excuses for what has happened to those forms. Brian has never been assigned an NFL doctor for evaluation for disability, nor has a case file ever been opened for him."

    Ditka and Upshaw, both Hall of Fame players, have engaged in an ongoing feud about how the union treats former players.

    "This is unacceptable," Ditka said as he introduced DeMarco, who walked with a cane and needed help getting to the podium.

    Neither Ditka nor DeMarco could be reached Monday night.

    "I filed for disability three different times," DeMarco said at the news conference. "Somehow I fell through the cracks. And the third time, I was told I was too late. I have a phone record that shows 128 phone calls to the NFLPA from mid-August of last year to mid-May of this year. In five years of dealing with this disability, I have yet to be seen by an NFL physician."

    But Upshaw said DeMarco has not applied for disability after DeMarco and disputed the lack of communication.

    "He talked to Andre Collins from our office last week when we were at the retired players meeting in Atlanta," Upshaw said. "Andre Collins out of his pocket wired him a $300 amount because he said he didn't know if he could make it the next three days, that his kids were eating peanut butter and jelly and crackers. Andre (NFLPA liaison to retired players) talks to him just about every weekend."

    DeMarco said he and his family have been homeless in recent times. But Upshaw faxed checks to the Tribune written by the Players Assistance Trust to cover DeMarco's rent at a place called "The Mansions at Steiner Ranch" in Austin, Texas.

    One check was for $2,938 and another for $1,469. The most recent check was March 5 for $2,420 to a man in San Diego that Upshaw said he believed was for DeMarco's rent.

    Upshaw also faxed a note from Steiner Ranch verifying that DeMarco occupied a unit with a monthly rate of $1,469. The union also sent a check to DeMarco's wife, Autumn, in August 2006 in the amount of $997.60.

    "We paid it on an emergency basis because he said he was going to be on the street and had nowhere to go with his family," Upshaw said.

    Accompanied by his wife, DeMarco described Monday morning how he and his family were homeless three times because he could not work. He exhausted his savings paying medical bills and was uninsurable after suffering 17 fractures in his spine during his career that ended in 2000.

    "I am not the only one," DeMarco said. "Whether you played in the NFL or not, poverty is poverty. Extreme poverty is extreme poverty. Somebody has got to step up to help the guys like me. I have been doing the best I can for the past few years. There's guys out there losing their lives, inch by inch, every single day."

    DeMarco started all 16 games as a rookie for Jacksonville in 1995. Before the 1999 season he signed a three-year, $3.1 million free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he was cut after one season because of back and elbow injuries.

    "I don't need to have press conferences to show what we do for people," Upshaw said. "There's no way I would have revealed any of this until they threw him out there to the public. Last year we paid out $1.2 million to 147 players. This guy is one of the guys we paid. This is not all we paid for him."

    Spearheaded by Ditka, Kramer, Joe DeLamielleure and other NFL players, Gridiron Greats has been providing direct financial assistance to needy former players such as DeMarco. Monday's media event coincided with the launch of a major drive to seek public support and financial contributions.

    Ditka also used the occasion to fire back at former Bears safety Dave Duerson, a member of the union's pension and disability board, who was quoted in a Sunday Tribune story as being critical of Ditka's motives and his attention to players' well-being.

    Ditka questioned Duerson's credibility and called his charges "an out and out, outrageous lie." Ditka also pointed out that his own late father was a union president.

    Meanwhile, DeLamielleure again took issue with Upshaw, who has dismissed DeLamielleure's outspoken advocacy for "Gridiron Greats" as misguided and was quoted as threatening him in a recent Philadelphia Daily News article.

    "He threatened to break my neck," DeLamielleure said. "I say that he stunk as a union leader for 20 years. Screw Upshaw. He stuck it to us for 20-some years."

    http://chicagosports.chicagotribune...ditka,1,7152819.story?coll=cs-bears-headlines
  2. THUMPER

    THUMPER Papa

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    Whether the union has done all it should or not, which I seriously doubt, Upshaw still needs to go. The guy has completely lost it. To air this stuff in public is all about protecting HIS image, not the union's and is completely unprofessional, regardless of what DeMarco has done.

    DeMarco is a former player who isn't getting what he wants and is airing in the media. Upshaw is the head of the NFLPA and should show some restraint in this matter. There are better ways to handle this than through the media unless you are concerned about your own reputation.
  3. Alexander

    Alexander What's it going to be then, eh?

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    Who cares about questioning his claim?

    I just want to see if he threatened to have his legs broken.
  4. AbeBeta

    AbeBeta Well-Known Member

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    To "air all this stuff in public?" DeMarco has made some serious claims about the NFLPA and Upshaw is responding. What exactly should he do if the claims are inaccurate?

    Puh-freaking-lease. You are just looking for an excuse to slam Upshaw. You'd be all over him if he said nothing as well.
  5. sacase

    sacase Well-Known Member

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    $1400 rent in texas is getting you a really nice place.

    I am not sure how I feel about this to be honest. part of me says these guys should have done better saving their money and secured long term disability insurance. Part of me thinks that the NFL needs to have a better insurance program to keep these guys covered after they get done playing. Something similer to the VA system for military personnel (I am not saying that it is great, I know it needs help)

    One thing for certain I don't think you should get a free handout, just because you played in the NFL and got hurt. Honestly, if you are not certified as diabled by the government and able to collect Social Security I am not sure the NFL should declare you disabled.
  6. AbeBeta

    AbeBeta Well-Known Member

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    More importantly, if this the best guy they can trot out to claim he wasn't treated right, then it would stand to reason that the NFL is doing pretty well in taking care of players.

    Better insurance? Absolutely a need - but keep in mind that sort of scratch is going to take a HUGE chunk out of the current player's salaries. If the players want that they need to tell the union that is what they are after. Every team has a union rep so it isn't like the player have no voice. They do. And they choose to a) not give a huge chunk of their pay to support former players and b) reserve the right to get all high and mighty about it.
  7. CrazyCowboy

    CrazyCowboy Well-Known Member

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    Where is Paul Harvey?
  8. dogunwo

    dogunwo Waves that make you sea-sick

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    NFL players deserves some form of lifetime health care if they play 4 or 5 seasons. But I am taking issues with this whole "we built the league" thing. If you sell your house and net gain $50,000, and the guy you sell the house to re-sells it and net gains triple that, are you entitled to more retroactively? I keep hearing all these quotes about how much money the NFL has now versus how much back then. Its kind of timing issue, and its not the NFLs fault that they are worth so much money.
  9. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    It really comes down to the medical coverage. THAT is where the NFL needs to step up. Frankly, they better hope that none of the lawyers that were on the asbestos cases decide to go after them. Health risks are health risks. No matter how they happened. It is very clear that long term health concerns are real if you played in the NFL. If the asbestos and tobacco cases have proven anything, its that sooner or later it will come to court.
  10. aikemirv

    aikemirv Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the medical coverage. But there should be is no reason this guy has been on the streets. I can't feel sorry for the guy that has made at least a few million playing football being out on the streets unless it was the medical bills that made him broke. Otherwise there is no excuse.

    I do feel for the aged guys who are not being taken care of pension wise but recent players who blew their wad- very little sympathy.
  11. Cochese

    Cochese Benched

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    Why? No one got paid to sit around asbestos or smoke ciggarettes for a living. These players knew what they were getting in to, the physical risks come with the fame and privilege of playing a game for a living.
  12. AbeBeta

    AbeBeta Well-Known Member

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    Asbestos is a bad analogy since those folks didn't know what they were getting themselves into -- they didn't know the risk. Also, they weren't getting paid truckloads of money.

    Cigarettes is a totally different issue as well b/c the liability there is all about marketing to certain groups and developing products that are more addictive.
  13. Cochese

    Cochese Benched

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    I agree. I want to feel sorry for this guy, but I just cant. It just strikes me as despicable when he is crying about not getting any help, while conveniently leaving out the fact that members of the NFLPA are giving him money out of their own pockets.

    He suffered 17 spine fractures, maybe after #5 it was time to call it quits? #10?
  14. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    interesting point of view some have here about the past players.
  15. AbeBeta

    AbeBeta Well-Known Member

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    also interesting how others will criticize Upshaw no matter what he does. It is far too simple for folks to make him a scapegoat for a problem that every union member and owner needs help address.
  16. THUMPER

    THUMPER Papa

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    You obviously have missed a lot of what Upshaw has said over the last year or two or you wouldn't be defending him.
  17. AbeBeta

    AbeBeta Well-Known Member

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    Player reps unanimously re-elected him a few months ago - you just want to ignore that and slam him. He's clearly delivering what the active players want.

    The players love him in place because fans who don't know any better will blame him for whatever issues arise.

    You so make my point for me.
  18. Double Trouble

    Double Trouble Well-Known Member

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    If you had guys publicly lying about you, repeatedly, you'd be ill about it as well. Upshaw said that this isn't the only instance of this, where they help a guy, then he goes on tv/radio and claims the NFLPA isn't helping him.
  19. AbeBeta

    AbeBeta Well-Known Member

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    Of course, if you are looking for any reason to slam Upshaw, then of course, you would say "To air this stuff in public is all about protecting HIS image"

    As I said earlier -- if DeMarco is the worst case they can bring out then the union must be doing very well.

    Either that or Ditka and DeLamielleur are mentally ********. Ditka has said for months that the union needs to show documentation that they support former players. Upshaw steps up and does that and fans who have some sort of anti-Upshaw agenda criticize him for it.
  20. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Salary Cap Analyst

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    When DeMarco was in college at Michigan State, he would steal food from the team's training table to take home for his wife and kid(s).

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