Tennessean.com: NFL owes its retirees a lot soon

Discussion in 'NFL Zone' started by Angus, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    NFL owes its retirees a lot soon

    Amid the nightmarish backdrop of crushed bones, amputated feet, homelessness and early onsets of dementia, it is time for the NFL to answer the wakeup call.

    The gladiators of a bygone era laid the foundation for today's game and the billions in revenue it generates. Now they are cast aside.

    Note to the NFL: It's time to take care of your elders.

    It is upon the broken bones and torn cartilage of these old-timers that the modern NFL was built. Compared to today's pay scale, they sacrificed their bodies for pennies.

    The league pays homage to them with videos. But that's the only payment. They don't get residuals from NFL Films.

    Yes, there is a pension fund. Yes, there is a disability plan. But the system is flawed. Too many have been left behind or lost in the paperwork.

    The dirty laundry was aired in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee last week. Members of Congress got a glimpse into the dark side of a league that sometimes forgets its former heroes.

    Tale of woe

    The horror stories need to be told. And they are many.

    Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame center during the Steelers' dynasty, spent his final years living in his pickup truck, his body broken and his mind not far behind. Johnny Unitas' golden arm was so mangled that he could not sign his name to sell his autograph in his later years.

    It goes on and on.

    And as the congressional hearing showed us, not all of those affected are ancient warriors.

    One of those who testified is Brian DeMarco, age 35, who said he has been homeless on three occasions and is near financial ruin because of football-related injuries and his inability to pay for proper medical treatment.

    "There are so many more like me out there," DeMarco told reporters.

    At issue is whether the NFL and the Players Association have properly funded older retirees and those who suffered disabling injuries while playing pro ball. NFL legends Mike Ditka and Jerry Kramer have led the crusade.

    Age-old question

    The league and the NFL Players Association note that pensions for older players are on the rise. Last week, they made it easier for former players to collect disability.

    Many see this as Young vs. Old, where current players are less than generous to those who came before them. Peter Sirmon, former union representative for the Titans, says that is not the case.

    "As players, we're a big community," said Sirmon, who retired after the '06 season and is now in the real estate business. "We don't want to see former players that are struggling or hurting."

    Sirmon points out that in the most recent collective bargaining agreement, pension payments were raised 25 percent for players who retired before 1982 and 10 percent for those who retired after '82.

    "The players of today know the sacrifices that the players before us made," Sirmon said. "You understand the history of the game."

    Indeed, history is a great teacher.

    And one of the best lessons is to take care of your elders.
  2. CrazyCowboy

    CrazyCowboy Well-Known Member

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    I have mixed feelings on this.......and not enough time to express them
  3. 03EBZ06

    03EBZ06 Need2Speed

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    Yup same here.

    Although I'm not close to being 50 yet, I do receive a monthly retirement check from DoD and I'm on my second career. So I could see both side of story of ex-players should be taken care of and they should have made some sort of after-NFL preparation.

    The ex-players who helped to elevate NFL should be compensated, especially all the money it is making and is in the "vault", especially those with disability, on other hand, it is you, the players, responsibility to make future plans for yourself and your family.

    Before I left military, I knew I needed more than 1,800 monthly retirement check from government to support my family so I made sure that I was prepared for the second career by getting second degree and having bit of nest egg built up and there was no doubt in my mind that I had to have a second career.

    Many of the ex-players aren't disabled and they have lot more opportunities than majority of us after their football career, some utilized those oppotunities and some failed to do so and it is those who failed to capitalized those opportunities have no one to blame but themselves. You have to take care of yourself, no one will.

    For those disabled players, I do think NFL could be doing bit better to eliminate the red tape and have better understanding of their needs, after all without these ex-players, the NFL would not be what it is today.

    just my .02 cents.
  4. BouncingCheese

    BouncingCheese Stay out of my Bidness

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    My view is that these players' bodies for the most part have been decimated by playing in this league for all these years, and the league should give them the money needed to take care of those injuries and the like.

    I am not saying by any stretch that these NFL players deserve better treatment or benefits than our soldiers, but then again the NFL has so much money I don't even understand why the league is being so stubborn about this. Alot of these players injured helped to make this league what it is today.

    Mike Ditka and BP always pushed thier players to give them 1000 percent. At first I found it ironic that here Ditka is standing here trying to help out while he was the guy that forced his players to play while injured which helped contribute to this mess. But then I realized that Ditka has his own money from his other endeavors should he need it for healthcare. His former players do not.

    The NFL has so much money we can't even comprehend. They have more money than some countries. I don't think that shelling out some dough for the injured players who made this league would be all that bad. Maybe somebody needs to tell the soul-less (from the looks of it IMO) pricks that it would help their PR. Maybe then they would start the ball rolling.
  5. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    I just read an article on ESPN yesterday. "Where are they now? Bob Lilly - A Photo Finish" What is Bob Lilly's retirement from the NFL? $112.50 a month. He already has had to pay $20,000 in dental bills out of his own pocket to replace his teeth that was caused by his NFL career.

    Interesting read. Not sure if anyone had posted it before.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    My opinion on this is that the NFL doesn't get a fair shake on the reporting of this story. IMO, this is a players issue. The owners and the league have made plenty of money available. It is now a matter of the players stepping up to the plate and mandating that more significant portians of there salaries get appropriated towards retired players. This, IMO, is not an NFL league issue or an owners issue. The responsability belongs to the players IMO.
  7. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Thats why it's the NFLPA (Upshaw to be exact) that is catching all the heat. Although, these players work for the NFL, so the NFL should be worried and evoke their influence on the outcome.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    The problem is that I do not believe the NFL can "evoke" anything. Heck, Upshaw can not do anything, legally. Until the players change the wording of the responsabilities Upshaw is responsible for, he really can't do much either. Legally, Upshaw only represents the players playing now. He can't represent the retired players because they don't fall under the domain of his responsability. It's a tough thing. The players gotta step up here and do the right thing IMO. That's not an easy thing either. We hear about the guys who are making 5 and 7 million bucks a season but the league is made up of guys who also make 250K or 500K a year. Those guys are looking at it and asking where all this cash is going to come from. It's tough.
  9. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    So, for the record, prior to the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement, Mr. Bob Lilly's monthly pension check was $84.37. ($112.50 - 25% = 84.37).

    It's disgusting.
  10. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    The Union needs to make a good faith effort to find the former players and see what their conditions are. Sort out those that NEED help and need that help BECAUSE of playing in the NFL and cannot pay for it themselves and take care of them. Its as simple as that. The NFL can kick in that 25 million on so a year that they will no longer be throwing to NFL Europa. The players can kick in 5% of their salaries. That should be enough to do what is needed.
  11. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    It isn't so tough, IMO.

    Goodell and Upshaw put a significant player-conduct policy into place remarkably quickly. link Things can happen quickly when people have the will to get things done.

    And, frankly, I don't understand why this should be seen as a players-only issue. The old players mean at least as much to the current owner's bottomline as they mean to the current player's.

    We can argue about who is and isn't responsible, but at some point, when you see a problem in your neighborhood, sometimes the right thing to do is to do the right thing, and not get bogged down in pointing fingers. Just make it work.

    And as BCheese said, the move could be justified on cynical grounds alone:

    "Maybe somebody needs to tell the soul-less (from the looks of it IMO) pricks that it would help their PR. Maybe then they would start the ball rolling."

    Jerry Jones loves the Cowboys. He loved the old Cowboys too. Staubach, Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan, Cornell Green, Mel Renfro, all of them. If he had the time, Jerry Jones would make a great champion for something like this.

    Again, I'm not saying this is his responsibility, just that he's the kind of guy who could get it done.
  12. 03EBZ06

    03EBZ06 Need2Speed

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    Did NFL benefited from old player? Absolutely. Do they owe ex-players? Nope, not legally, but morally they do because they are still benefiting from old players.

    I too think this issue involves NFL, NFLPA, ex-players, and current players. Perhaps NFL in a less extent, but the fact is, they are part of this grievance.
  13. jackrussell

    jackrussell Last of the Duke Street Kings

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    Many of these old boys are 'sports' heroes from our childhood...and now we see them as we've never seen them before, broken down men, having problems with their bargained for pensions and health benefits. It bothers us because it just seems there is so much money in the combined coffers of the owners and the players union, and though not legally bound to do anything above and beyond what was negotiated for...we'd like to see something a little extra thrown their way.

    Sad? Yes. Tragic? Not so much. While these men were our 'sports' heroes, their plight is no more tragic than to our 'life' heroes...our parents and grandparents, our veterans....every honest working Amercian who toiled in our smoke stacked industries, coal filled mines, high pressured offices. People themselves that became broken down men and women, people that carried these companies on their backs to make them what they are today.

    These same people are too experiencing what these former players are going through....with an added burden. While it seemed their was plenty of money for the CEOs, the record profits paying out dividends to the stockholders, the bonuses for upper level management...there became a shortage of money to even honor these worker's pensions...to honor these people's health benefits.

    It's not as if these companies went under...they just closed up shop and hung a new sign to elude these legacy costs. While the pension guarentee fund ran by the government(PBGC) was supposed to cover these pension defaults and actually had a surplus up to the year 2000...companies found the loopholes(just not pay their insurance premiums to the PBGC) to dump their legacy costs on the PBGC, which then syphoned their surplus dry..leaving these workers with no recourse...and no pensions or in the least pennies on the dollar already vested. Pensions they too bargained for....just gone.

    The benefits the player's union bargained for are there for our 'sports' heroes'...and I've seen nowhere where they have been reduced or rescinded. The same cannot be said for our 'life's heroes'.

    Now that's tragic.
  14. DallasEast

    DallasEast Cowboys 24/7/365 Staff Member

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    Well said.
  15. StanleySpadowski

    StanleySpadowski Active Member

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    I've said it before, but I'll say it again; I have absolutely no sympathy for any of these ex-NFL player who are down on their luck. Failure to plan on their part doesn't make it an emergency situation on the part of the NFL or NFLPA.

    The older players don't complain when a guy trades on his name and the cache of being an NFL player to get ahead so they shouldn't complain when it doesn't work out.

    Millions of sales professionals would give their left leg to have an NFL trump card in their back pockets.
  16. sacase

    sacase Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but beyond helping out with disability injuries proven to be caused by NFL plays the retired players should not get anything more. Do you think a small company you retired from is going to increase your pension if they evolve into the top retailer? Nope. You don't benifit from future sucess, so niether should former NFL players. Proper financial planning would have helped many.
  17. Double Trouble

    Double Trouble Well-Known Member

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    The NFL owes former players what they agreed to pay them when they signed their contracts 30 or 40 years ago. The NFLPA owes them whatever benefits they agreed to originally. Nothing more. There is no such thing as a "success dividend". Should every successful company now have to pay a stipend to those who used to work for them? The very idea is ridiculous.

    For disabled players, they should receive disability benefits. But Ditka has played this one to the media, and the media has been his willing accomplice. Upshaw related the story of how they were paying the rent of one former player, only to have the guy show up at a press conference with other former players and complain that the NFLPA wasn't doing anything to help him. I know there are many former players who have debilitating health problems due to football, and they should be helped. But many of these guys are also just sore that the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business and they missed out on becoming millionaires from it. That's life, and they're not due any extra $ the same way that I'm not due anything from auto parts company I worked for as a teenager.
  18. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    First, many of the "down on their luck" players you are talking about are there due to injuries received while playing in the NFL. Sure there are some that arn't and just bumed around. The problem is the players that have disabilities from playing in the NFL and they get $112.50 a month. As I noted before. Bob Lilly had it easy. He only had to replace his teeth for $20,000. Lets see, (($20,000 / $112.50) / 12months) = 14.8 Years it would take for his NFL retirement to pay of his NFL caused dental issues.

    With due respect, you should learn more about what exactly is going on before making suck a generalized damning statement about all NFL retired players.

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