Grants available to former NFL Players

Dear Alumni:

If you know any former players that are going through some difficult times and are in need of financial and medical assistance, here is the contact information, phone numbers, applications and links to the NFL Player Care Foundation, the NFLPA – Gene Upshaw PAT (Player Assistance Trust) fund and the Gridiron Greats Foundation. Please review the different criteria established for each of the grants.

__________________________________________________________

NFL Players Association Link: Gene Upshaw PAT Fund Application

Contact Tyrone Allen at (800)-372-2000 ext. 166

The GU PAT was created to provide short-term financial assistance to former players or their immediate family members who may be faced with a financial or medical crisis.

__________________________________________________________

NFL Player Care Foundation Link: NFL Player Care Foundation

Contact Dana at (800) 635-4625 ext. 3

The NFL Player Care Foundation provides monetary grantsto qualified NFL alumni who are experiencing financial hardships. The PCF has also enacted a number of programs to improve the quality of life for former players. Applicant must be a former NFL player with at least two credited seasons of NFL play or are otherwise vested, under the NFL’s Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle plan, and widows and children of deceased former NFL players who would otherwise be eligible for support.

__________________________________________________________

Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund Link: GGAF Application

Contact Karen Wright at (773) 867-8160

Email Karen at karenw@gridirongreats.org to discuss their assistance program and criteria needed to qualify for financial and medical assistance. While funds are available to all former players that played three or more years in the League, the fund has also set certain criteria and limitations.

______________________________________________________

If you have any questions about these programs, or need any additional assistance. I can be reached at 716-912-0019, or you can email me at jeffnixon@aol.com

Your Alumni brother,

Jeff Nixon

 

Pro Football Player Deaths in 2013

Dear Pro Football Alumni:

One Hundred and Twenty-six of our alumni brothers passed away in 2013.

I have attached a list of those players and if you click on their name, it will take you to the website www.OldestLivingProFootball.com where you can see a short biography and some interesting information under the heading “Did You Know?”

Send up a prayer to all the families and friends that these former players leave behind.

Remember………………….someday all of our names will be on this list!

Your Alumni brother,

Jeff Nixon

PS: Bill Glassford is the oldest living former pro football player. He’s 99 years old and will turn 100 on March 8, 1914.

2013 Pro Football Player Deaths
Name Team   Debut Birth   Date Death   Date Age HOF
           
Art   Weiner 1950   New York Yanks 8/16/1926 12/25/2013 87  
Art   DeCarlo 1953   Pittsburgh Steelers 3/23/1931 12/21/2013 82  
Bronzell   Miller 1995   Jacksonville Jaguars 10/12/1971 12/21/2013 42  
Ken   Hutcherson 1974   Dallas Cowboys 7/14/1952 12/18/2013 61  
Frank   Maznicki 1942   Chicago Bears 7/19/1920 12/14/2013 93  
Bill   Troup 1974   Baltimore Colts 4/2/1951 12/14/2013 62  
Ronnie   Goodwin 1963   Philadelphia Eagles 1/9/1941 12/12/2013 72  
John   Didion 1969   Washington Redskins 10/24/1947 12/10/2013 66  
Charles   Smith 1947   Chicago Cardinals 3/13/1924 12/10/2013 89  
John   Wilbur 1966   Dallas Cowboys 5/21/1943 12/9/2013 70  
Norm   Mosley 1948   Pittsburgh Steelers 1/4/1922 12/6/2013 91  
Tom   Alberghini 1945   Pittsburgh Steelers 10/27/1919 11/26/2013 94  
Jim   Cason 1948   San Francisco 49ers (AAFC) 7/25/1927 11/24/2013 86  
Thomas   Howard 2006   Oakland Raiders 7/14/1983 11/18/2013 30  
Frank   Chamberlin 2000   Tennessee Titans 1/2/1978 11/17/2013 35  
Mike   McCormack 1951   New York Yanks 6/21/1930 11/15/2013 83 HOF
Todd   Christensen 1979   New York Giants 8/3/1956 11/13/2013 57  
John   McCormick 1962   Minnesota Vikings 5/26/1937 11/12/2013 76  
Clarence   ‘Ace’ Parker 1937   Brooklyn Dodgers 5/17/1912 11/6/2013 101 HOF
Bobby   Thomason 1949   Los Angeles Rams 3/26/1928 11/5/2013 85  
Lew   Mayne 1946   Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC) 3/21/1920 10/28/2013 93  
Chet   Lagod 1953   New York Giants 1/8/1928 10/25/2013 85  
Reggie   Rogers 1987   Detroit Lions 1/21/1964 10/24/2013 49  
John   Sokolosky 1978   Detroit Lions 4/2/1956 10/17/2013 57  
Glenn   Young 1956   Green Bay Packers 12/22/1929 10/13/2013 83  
Fred   Cole 1960   Los Angeles Chargers (AFL) 6/14/1937 10/11/2013 76  
John   P. Kovatch 1938   Cleveland Rams 6/6/1912 10/11/2013 101  
Darris   McCord 1955   Detroit Lions 1/3/1933 10/9/2013 80  
Gordon   Polofsky 1952   Chicago Cardinals 1/10/1931 10/7/2013 82  
L.C.   Greenwood 1969   Pittsburgh Steelers 9/8/1946 9/29/2013 67  
Ron   Duncan 1967   Cleveland Browns 9/8/1943 9/26/2013 70  
Paul   Oliver 2008   San Diego Chargers 3/30/1984 9/24/2013 29  
Francis   Peay 1966   New York Giants 5/23/1944 9/21/2013 69  
John   Reger 1955   Pittsburgh Steelers 9/11/1931 9/19/2013 82  
Allan   Ellis 1973   Chicago Bears 8/19/1951 9/18/2013 62  
Scott   Adams 1992   Minnesota Vikings 9/28/1966 9/16/2013 46  
Tom   Higgins Sr. 1953   Chicago Cardinals 2/26/1930 9/16/2013 83  
Rick   Casares 1955   Chicago Bears 7/4/1931 9/13/2013 82  
Frank   Tripucka 1949   Detroit Lions 12/8/1927 9/12/2013 85  
Willie   Frazier 1964   Houston Oilers (AFL) 6/19/1942 9/5/2013 71  
Jack   Del Bello 1953   Baltimore Colts 12/9/1927 8/23/2013 85  
Darrell   ‘Burt’ Delavan 1955   Chicago Cardinals 12/2/1929 8/15/2013 83  
Hezekiah   ‘Hez’ Braxton 1962   San Diego Chargers (AFL) 4/11/1934 8/9/2013 79  
Art   Donovan 1950   Baltimore Colts 6/5/1925 8/4/2013 88 HOF
Bob   Livingstone 1948   Chicago Rockets (AAFC) 5/11/1922 8/1/2013 91  
Wilford   White 1951   Chicago Bears 9/26/1928 8/1/2013 84  
Harry   Smith 1940   Detroit Lions 8/26/1918 7/30/2013 94  
Bobby   Crespino 1961   Cleveland Browns 1/11/1938 7/29/2013 75  
James   W. Powers 1950   San Francisco 49ers 2/29/1928 7/27/2013 85  
Rick   Norton 1966   Miami Dolphins (AFL) 11/16/1943 7/25/2013 69  
Geno   Mazzanti 1950   Baltimore Colts 4/1/1929 7/24/2013 84  
Sonny   Gandee 1952   Detroit Lions 2/27/1929 7/21/2013 84  
Earl   Gros 1962   Green Bay Packers 8/29/1940 7/15/2013 72  
Ben   Pucci 1946   Buffalo Bisons (AAFC) 1/26/1925 7/8/2013 88  
Ted   Burgmeier 1978   Kansas City Chiefs 11/8/1955 7/7/2013 57  
Hamilton   ‘Nick’ Nichols 1947   Chicago Cardinals 10/18/1924 7/6/2013 88  
Billy   Cross 1951   Chicago Cardinals 5/3/1929 7/5/2013 84  
Ray   Coates 1948   New York Giants 5/8/1924 7/3/2013 89  
Ernie   Richardson 1974   Cleveland Browns 7/17/1950 7/1/2013 62  
Bob   Oliver 1969   Cleveland Browns 6/17/1947 6/28/2013 66  
Don   Brown 1960   Houston Oilers (AFL) 8/30/1937 6/25/2013 75  
Jim   Hudson 1965   New York Jets (AFL) 3/31/1943 6/25/2013 70  
Jim   Barton 1960   Dallas Texans (AFL) 6/12/1934 6/24/2013 79  
Dave   Jennings 1974   New York Giants 6/8/1952 6/19/2013 61  
Joe   Tereshinski 1947   Washington Redskins 12/7/1923 6/9/2013 89  
Tom   Brown 1942   Pittsburgh Steelers 5/22/2021 6/4/2013 92  
Will   Wynn 1973   Philadelphia Eagles 1/15/1949 6/4/2013 64  
Deacon   Jones 1961   Los Angeles Rams 12/9/1938 6/3/2013 74 HOF
Ron   Smith 1965   Chicago Bears 5/3/1943 6/2/2013 70  
Frank   Dempsey 1950   Chicago Bears 5/27/1925 6/1/2013 88  
Mike   LaHood 1969   Los Angeles Rams 12/11/1944 5/30/2013 68  
Bill   Austin 1949   New York Giants 10/18/1928 5/24/2013 84  
Pat   Shea 1962   San Diego Chargers (AFL) 6/28/1939 5/23/2013 73  
Dick   Evey 1964   Chicago Bears 2/12/1941 5/23/2013 72  
Dave   Costa 1963   Oakland Raiders (AFL) 10/27/1941 5/20/2013 71  
Harry   Schuh 1965   Oakland Raiders (AFL) 9/25/1942 5/20/2013 70  
Dave   McMillan 2005   Cleveland Browns 9/20/1981 5/18/2013 31  
Chuck   Muncie 1976   New Orleans Saints 3/17/1953 5/13/2013 60  
Toni   Linhart 1972   New Orleans Saints 7/24/1942 5/12/2013 70  
Jack   Butler 1951   Pittsburgh Steelers 11/12/1927 5/11/2013 85 HOF
John   Alderton 1953   Pittsburgh Steelers 9/5/1931 5/8/2013 81  
George   Sauer Jr. 1965   New York Jets (AFL) 11/10/1943 5/7/2013 69  
Fred   Julian 1960   New York Titans (AFL) 1/27/1938 5/4/2013 75  
Walt   Clay 1946   Chicago Rockets (AAFC) 1/8/1924 5/3/2013 89  
Curtis   Rouse 1982   Minnesota Vikings 7/13/1960 5/3/2013 52  
Walt   Dubzinski 1943   New York Giants 10/26/1919 4/27/2013 93  
Marion   Rushing 1959   Chicago Cardinals 9/3/1936 4/26/2013 76  
Sam   Williams 1959   Los Angeles Rams 3/9/1931 4/25/2013 82  
Dave   Kocourek 1960   Los Angeles Chargers (AFL) 8/20/1937 4/24/2013 75  
Bob   Heck 1949   Chicago Hornets (AAFC) 6/17/1925 4/17/2013 87  
Bob   Kahler 1942   Green Bay Packers 2/14/1917 4/16/2013 96  
Pat   Summerall 1952   Detroit Lions 5/10/1930 4/16/2013 82  
Bob   Yates 1961   Boston Patriots (AFL) 11/20/1938 4/16/2013 74  
Joe   Francis 1958   Green Bay Packers 4/21/1936 4/15/2013 76  
Carey   Henley 1962   Buffalo Bills (AFL) 9/24/1936 4/15/2013 76  
Errol   Mann 1968   Green Bay Packers 6/27/1941 4/11/2013 71  
Greg   McCrary 1975   Atlanta Falcons 3/24/1952 4/9/2013 61  
Dick   Duden 1949   New York Giants 11/29/1924 3/31/2013 88  
Dave   Leggett 1955   Chicago Cardinals 9/18/1933 3/26/2013 79  
Bert   Milling 1942   Philadelphia Eagles 11/4/1921 3/25/2013 91  
John   ‘Jack’ Wiley 1946   Pittsburgh Steelers 4/18/1920 3/25/2013 92  
Harlon   Hill 1954   Chicago Bears 5/4/1932 3/22/2013 80  
George   Saimes 1963   Buffalo Bills (AFL) 9/1/1941 3/8/2013 71  
Jeff   Durkota 1948   Los Angeles Dons (AAFC) 12/20/1923 3/5/2013 89  
Tom   Pennington 1962   Dallas Texans (AFL) 11/26/1939 3/4/2013 73  
Roy   Stuart 1942   Cleveland Rams 7/25/1920 2/27/2013 92  
Claudis   James 1967   Green Bay Packers 11/7/1943 2/25/2013 69  
Bob   Hecker 1952   Los Angeles Rams 7/29/1925 2/24/2013 87  
Richard   J. ‘Dick’ Yelvington 1952   New York Giants 7/27/1928 2/24/2013 84  
Jim   Canady 1948   Chicago Bears 1/14/1926 2/19/2013 87  
Tony   Lorick 1964   Baltimore Colts 5/25/1941 2/17/2013 71  
Kenneth   R. ‘Ken’ Clark 1990   Indianapolis Colts 6/11/1966 2/16/2013 46  
Walter   ‘Walt’ Easley 1981   San Francisco 49ers 9/8/1957 2/14/2013 55  
Glynn   Gregory 1961   Dallas Cowboys 7/6/1939 2/14/2013 73  
John   Holt 1981   Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5/14/1959 2/13/2013 53  
Walter   ‘Walt’ Sweeney 1963   San Diego Chargers (AFL) 4/18/1941 2/2/2013 71  
Brian   D. Sisley 1987   New York Giants 1/18/1964 1/31/2013 49  
Val   Joe Walker 1953   Green Bay Packers 1/7/1930 1/23/2013 83  
George   Brown 1949   New York Yankees (AAFC) 9/23/1923 1/21/2013 89  
William   C. ‘Bill’ Albright 1951   New York Giants 4/4/1929 1/17/2013 83  
Jeff   Lewis 1996   Denver Broncos 4/17/1973 1/5/2013 39  
Jimmy   Lesane 1952   Chicago Bears 3/8/1930 1/4/2013 82  
Bryan   Stoltenberg 1996   San Diego Chargers 8/25/1972 1/4/2013 40  
Angelo   A. Coia 1960   Chicago Bears 4/21/1938 1/2/2013 74  
Jack   J. Davis 1960   Boston Patriots (AFL) 3/12/1932 1/1/2013 80  
Valentino   ‘Tino’ Sabuco 1949   San Francisco 49ers (AAFC) 12/20/1926 1/1/2013 86  

My Recommendation on the proposed Concussion Settlement

Article written and sent out to 8,000 former players on December 24, 2013

Dear Alumni: 

Before I comment on the proposed Concussion Settlement, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and joyful holiday season. 

Unfortunately, many of our alumni brothers will not be celebrating with us this coming year, because they have passed on to the great hereafter. I will soon be providing you with the annual list former players that fought the good fight and are now resting in the eternal light of God. To the families and friends of our Alumni brothers, I hope and pray that you are comforted by the knowledge that they have shed their mortal coil and are now free of all pain and suffering. 

Some of our Alumni brothers are still suffering and hopefully they will soon be rewarded with compensation provided under the proposed Concussion Settlement. This is a rather lengthy article on the Settlement, but I hope you can take the time to read it from beginning to end. 

Although I have discussed my disappointment with some of the provisions of the Settlement, I have already gone on the record as supporting it because of several reasons that I want to share with you today.           

As you know Judge Anita Brody did not rule on the NFL’s Motion to Dismiss the Concussion Lawsuit. Instead, she ordered the parties, through their lead counsels, to engage in mediation to determine if consensual resolution was possible. Judge Brody appointed Judge Layn Phillips to preside over the mediation. 

In the Press Release announcing that a proposed Settlement had been reached, Judge Phillips said “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed. The alternative was for the two sides to spend the next 10 years and millions of dollars on litigation, which would have been great for lawyers, expert witnesses, trial consultants and others. But it would not do much for retired players and their families who are in need. This resolution allows the sides to join together, do something constructive, and build a better game for the future.  Both sides faced major risks and uncertainties that made a class settlement far and away the best path for resolving these issues.” 

Fighting on behalf of former players during the Settlement negotiations was Chris Seeger from the law firm Seeger Weiss. They have been frequently cited as one of the nation’s foremost law firms, earning accolades from the Legal 500 and the National Law Journal, which named Seeger Weiss to its prestigious Plaintiffs’ Hot List two years in a row. 

I recently met with Chris Seeger in New Jersey to hear, first hand, why he thought this was the best Settlement we could possibly achieve. 

I don’t usually get too excited when lawyers are called upon to resolve disputes, but I have to say, I was impressed with Mr. Seeger’s knowledge and understanding of all the legal issues with respect to our case.  I think he and several of the other attorneys would like to have seen this case go to trial, but in the final analysis, the risks were too great.      

Chris said there were several issues of concern in getting this case to trial. The most prominent being the NFL’s “Pre Emption” argument. 

So what does that mean? 

Chris showed me the language in the NFL’s motion to dismiss that had most of our lawyers very concerned. In their motion, the NFL lawyers said that “parties whose terms and conditions of employment are determined by a collective bargaining agreement must grieve their employment-related disputes by the dispute resolution process prescribed by the CBA—not by bringing claims in court. The CBAs, like all collective bargaining agreements affecting interstate commerce are governed by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (the ―LMRA). Section 301 ensures that disputes between parties to a labor agreement are resolved under a uniform body of federal labor law and adjudicated in accordance with the parties‘ agreed-to grievance procedures. Thus, section 301 provides for preemption of all state-law claims—whether based in negligence or fraud—whose resolution is substantially dependent upon or inextricably intertwined with the terms of a CBA, or that arise under the CBA.” 

The NFL’s lawyers also said that “All CBAs have contained a broad arbitration clause providing that all disputes involving the interpretation of, application of, or compliance with, any provision of the CBAs, player contracts, or any applicable provision of the Constitution pertaining to terms and conditions of employment of NFL players, will be resolved exclusively in accordance with agreed-to arbitration procedures. It is a fundamental tenet of labor law that when resolution of a state-law claim is substantially dependent upon analysis of the terms of an agreement made between the parties in a labor contract, the plaintiff‘s claim is pre-empted by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act”. 

These were powerful arguments that Judge Anita Brody did not rule on, but based on legal precedents, there was good reason to believe that the Judge could dismiss our case. Chris Seeger and the other lawyers representing us were concerned that if we did not win that ruling, our case would be severely damaged. 

Chris also said that in addition to Preemption, there were also issues pertaining to the Statute of Limitations, Assumption of Risk and the big issue of Causation. What caused our injuries? When did we get injured? Could former players prove that their brain injuries were solely the result of their play in the NFL? What about injuries sustained in Pee Wee, Pop Warner, high school and college? There is no doubt that these arguments and legal challenges would also be raised by the NFL lawyers. They could also bring into evidence any other mitigating factors like alcohol and drug abuse, family histories of mental illness and injuries sustained outside of football. Physician records could and would be subpoenaed. 

Under the proposed Settlement, we don’t have to show that our injuries were caused by football. That is a very important aspect of the agreement.

This may not be the best Settlement we could have hoped for, but if the agreement is approved by the Judge, I will not take the chance of opting out and fighting another 5 or 10 years – especially when the outcome is so uncertain. I would recommend that all former players carefully consider their options in this case, before they make any final decisions about opting out. 

Some of our alumni brothers are still uncertain about the Settlement and have been misinformed about many of the provisions that are in the proposal. In order to fully inform as many players as possible, my good friend and lawyer, Craig Mitnick has started visiting some of the NFL Alumni Chapters to discuss the proposed Concussion Settlement.   

I should note that in one of my most recent articles, I said that it did not appear that the Settlement would be compensating players for mild or “moderate” cognitive impairment – or treatment for those injuries. 

In our meeting, Chris Seeger informed me that although the press release on the proposed Settlement did not thoroughly cover those issues, it does in fact cover “moderate” impairment under Dementia and “treatment services” for players that need it now and in the future. He said that those details would be forthcoming when the Judge makes preliminary approval of the Settlement. 

The Judge is not allowing Mr. Seeger, or the other attorneys in this case, to discuss some of the finer details of the proposed Settlement, but he has assured me that the amount of money set aside will be enough to cover former players that are diagnosed with severe cognitive impairments. Those payments will be based on a specific schedule that includes not only the severity of the injury, but also the age of a player and how many years they played in the NFL.  The Judge has hired independent analysts to make sure that the financial aspects of the agreement are solid. 

Once Judge Brody is satisfied with the proposed Concussion Settlement, it is likely she will approve it and then order the proposal to be sent to all former players that are part of the Settlement. Former players will then have an opportunity to be a part of the class, object, or opt out. 

There will be some players that decide to opt out because they don’t currently have dementia, Alzheimer’s, ALS or Parkinson’s, but keep in mind, the Settlement will cover you if you develop these neuro-cognitive impairments later in life. 

Some former players will opt-out because they truly believe the case can be tried and won – and that there will be better compensation for them if they win.  It will be a risky proposition, but I wish them the best. 

I, for one, will not stand in the way of this Settlement because first and foremost, it will be the fastest way to compensate the men that are most severely affected by brain injuries they have sustained and are suffering from now and in the future.   

Your Alumni brother, 

Jeff Nixon

 

The NFLPA is losing the “Trust” of Legacy Players

Dear Alumni: 

The NFLPA just recently decided how they would spend the $240 Million that was set aside in the 2011 CBA for former player programs and services. 

They have established another “Trust.”    

As you know, we already have the Gene Upshaw PAT (Player Assistance Trust). That “Trust” fund was set up to benefit former players in need, but several years ago the Trustees said that not enough former players were applying, so they started using the money for other purposes. Here is a link to my article about this issue: Where does the Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust fund money go?

It is interesting to note that the NFL Films Settlement has also established a “Common Good Fund” for retired players in need. But why would they do that if the NFLPA can’t even find enough former players in need of their Trust funds.  Is that why the NFL put language in the NFL Films Settlement saying that any unspent money from the “Common Good Fund” would revert back to them?  My guess is yes.

Now, getting back to the Trust………

Andre Collins, the Director of Retired Players for the National Football League Players Association, sent me an email message on October 31, 2013 saying “Hope all is well – Can we schedule a quick call tomorrow? I want to have a phone introduction between you and the Executive Director of the Trust – Bahati Van Pelt.”  

I responded by saying “Call me around 11:00 am.”  

I’m still waiting for my call.

I don’t know what Andre and Mr. Van Pelt wanted to discuss, but I’m sure it had something to do with selling me on the benefits of the new “Trust.”

I probably won’t be getting a call after this article is posted, but that’s ok because my ideas and opinions – and that of a majority of older retired players – don’t really matter to the men that are calling the shots at the NFLPA.  I don’t blame Andre for not getting back to me.  He serves at the pleasure of DeMaurice Smith and that is where he gets his marching orders.

Unfortunately, the NFLPA leadership still doesn’t seem to understand why the older generation of former players has lost so much “trust” in them.

I will give the NFLPA credit for making the services under the “Trust” available to non-vested players with at least two credited seasons, but the types of services they are proposing appear to be duplicative and just more of the “same old – same old.”

The services are predominantly targeted toward the more recently retired players – many of whom already qualify for numerous other benefits like the Annuity Plan, Second Career Savings Plan, Health Reimbursement Account, Tuition Assistance, 5 free years of medical after retirement and the option of staying on the NFL’s Group Health Insurance policy. Here’s a link to read more about those programs and the extraordinary amount of money that is already being pumped into those benefits: NFL Player salaries and benefits under the CBA.    

Obviously, the recent retirees are more “marketable” and therefore more valuable to the NFLPA. I get that, but even so, they should do more to level the playing field. The fact is, the Trust just creates more imbalance that favors the recent retirees over the older generation of former players.      

This is how the $240 Million under the “Trust” is being used:   

Brain and Body Evaluations:  

This service is only available to players that have retired within the last 15 years.  Isn’t that special! The proposed Concussion Settlement will provide $75 million for baseline brain and cognitive evaluations for all former players, including those that have retired in past 15 years, so why are they paying the Trust to do this?  

The Player Care Foundation also has the Neurological Care program that provides retired players with access to comprehensive brain evaluations. Read about it on Dave Pear’s Blog at this link: Another new playa care benefit.  

And last, but not least, the NFL Alumni Association has set up the Maximized Living Program to help with brain and body evaluations and health services.

That’s four different sources providing essentially the same types of services. Duplication at its finest! 

Career Transition Services: How many former players really need this?  Thousands of former players have already made the transition from football to a career. Actually, there are more former players who have retired from their careers than those who are still working. 

The NFL also provides Career Transition programs for former players. Check out their programs at this link: NFL Player Engagement.  The NFL Alumni Association is doing career transition programs too.

How many Career Transition programs do we need? 

Financial Education:  Again, this might be useful for some of the more recently retired players that have a lot of money in the bank, but most former players don’t need financial education. We need financial aid (money) for school tuition or advanced training – just like the NFLPA provides to the more recent retirees under the “Tuition Assistance Reimbursement Plan.”  That benefit pays for tuition, room and board and books. Most former players are not eligible for that benefit.  So why didn’t the Trust” pay for that type of service?  

Health and Nutrition:  Give me a break!  Anyone can Google “Health and Nutrition” and read everything they need to know about leading a healthy life and developing good eating habits. Better yet, just turn on your television and tune into Dr. Oz every day of the week. If they really wanted to help the old school players, they could have assisted the guys that don’t have health insurance. The Trust could have helped them by paying a portion of their premiums for the insurance they are required to purchase under the Affordable Care Act.  

Physical Fitness: If the NFLPA really wanted to help us stay in shape, they could have paid our annual Health Club fees. The average annual fee for an individual membership is $500 to $700. A family membership is $800 to $1,000. The NFLPA used to provide free memberships for former players, but they stopped doing that about 20 years ago. I find it hard to believe that the NFLPA can’t partner with a major fitness club like Bally’s, Gold’s Gym or 24 Hour Fitness to provide this type of benefit.

Maybe the NFLPA thinks that the “Common Good Fund” established under the NFL Films Settlement will pay for some, or all of the benefits I have recommended in this article. I’ll believe that……..when I see it.

If you can use any of the services under the “Trust”, then by all means, take advantage of the opportunity. I’m just disappointed that they didn’t gear more of the services to the pre-1993 players. 

They call us the “Legacy” players of pro football, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like it’s all just lip service.  

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the old school players got played again because we put our “Trust” in the NFL Players Association and expected them to do the right thing. They gave the recent retirees a big turkey with all the stuffings and all we got was a wishbone.

Feel free to post your comments below this article. I’m curious to find out how many of you like – or dislike – the new Trust and the services they are proposing.

Your alumni brother, 

Jeff  

Could Concussion Settlement increase suicides among former NFL Players?

While we wait for the final details of the proposed Concussion Settlement, there are some big concerns about one aspect of the proposal that could have far reaching implications and devastating consequences for former players, their families and their friends.

There is a provision in the agreement to compensate families of deceased players, including those who killed themselves, if they are diagnosed with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Dr. Bennet Omalu and Dr. Julian Bailes have said that “diagnosis of CTE remains autopsy based,” and that there is “currently no accepted method of diagnosing CTE until post-mortem pathological analysis has been conducted.” 

Although there is some promising research to detect CTE in living players, it appears that the Concussion Settlement will only compensate players that are diagnosed with CTE after they have died and their brains have been examined in an autopsy.

Upset by this news, a former player recently sent me an email where he said If I commit suicide or have someone else kill me in case I chicken out, my brain will highly likely be found with CTE and my family will be “compensated” about $3 million dollars. Jeff, doesn’t this sound like a reasonable resolution? I know it is morbid. I understand that suicide is not an answer to anything, but does the league understand the choices that they are placing in front of us? If I could guarantee my family financial stability for many years to come, where is the question? My children are grown and highly independent, my wife has a job and although I’m sure they would miss me, they would get over it in time and perhaps even recognize the ultimate sacrifice that I would have paid for them. Does the league get this? I recognize that one old, not particularly well known former player dying may not make the news but what if a group collaborated? What if several guys who have considered this in the past came together for the good of the rest and RETIRED ONE LAST TIME?”

His email sent chills down my spine.

In my email response to him I said “Before you consider doing anything as drastic as you mention in your email, please call me. I was extremely disheartened when my friend and fellow Richmond Alumnus, Ray Easterling took his own life without ever giving a hint that he was contemplating suicide. I understood his reasons for doing what he did, but I have to believe there is a better way. Your email will remain totally confidential. Let’s talk.”

We did talk…..and I assured him that his email would continue to remain confidential. I’m not going to reveal what we talked about, but after our phone conversation, I felt very uneasy about the way the Settlement language might actually create such an unintended consequence. 

It’s not hard to see why some former players would be considering suicide as a viable option. First of all, we need to understand that their cognitive impairment has already clouded their judgment. Memory loss, dementia and depression are some of the alleged symptoms of CTE. How can a player be held accountable for their actions when they are experiencing these mental conditions? 

In a recent ESPN Outside the Lines interview,  Tony Dorsett said “I’ve thought about crazy stuff, sort of like, Why do I need to continue going through this?’ I’m too smart a person, I like to think, to take my life, but it’s crossed my mind.” 

I’m sure it has crossed minds of a lot of players, but now there might be an incentive to carry through with their suicidal ideation. 

How do former players know that their autopsy would show they had CTE?  They don’t really know for sure, but consider this: Researchers at Boston University have discovered 28 new cases of chronic brain damage in deceased football players – including 15 who played in the NFL – more than doubling the number of documented cases connecting football to long-term brain disease.

Although the current studies regarding the diagnoses of CTE in living persons has not been conclusively validated by the scientific community, the proposed Concussion Settlement should include language that will compensate players if, or when, the scientific community finally develops a proven procedure for detecting CTE in living persons.  

One final thing for my NFL Alumni brothers to consider….

Make sure you have made arrangements to have your brain examined in an autopsy after you die. Your heirs may be very glad that you did.   

Additionally, you can help speed up the research by becoming a part of the D.E.T.E.C.T. (Diagnosing and Evaluating Traumatic Encephalopathy Using Clinical Tests) Study: The ultimate goal of this study is to develop methods of diagnosing CTE during life through the use of a variety of tests, including MRI scans (such as diffusion tensor imaging), MRS scans (also known as a “virtual biopsy”), blood tests, and measures of proteins in spinal fluid. Here is a link to the study and what you can do to participate: BU DETECT Study

Your Alumni bother,

Jeff Nixon

7 key stages of a Class Action Settlement

Dear Alumni:

With all the Class Action lawsuits that have been filed by former players, I thought it might be beneficial for everyone to understand the 7 key stages of a typical Class Action Settlement. Here they are:

SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS

Class action settlement negotiations frequently involve multiple parties and law firms struggling to satisfy competing interests. The court will scrutinize the negotiating process and consider the motivations and interests of the parties and counsel as part of its evaluation of the settlement.

MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY APPROVAL

Once a class action settlement is negotiated and agreed on, the parties make a motion to the court requesting preliminary approval of the settlement.

PRELIMINARY APPROVAL HEARING

At the preliminary approval hearing, the court reviews the proposed settlement and makes an initial determination as to whether the terms are fair, reasonable and adequate.

NOTICE TO THE CLASS

If the court grants preliminary approval, it directs the preparation of notice to proposed class members and sets a date for the final approval and fairness hearing. Notice must be provided in a “reasonable” manner.

OPPORTUNITY TO OPT OUT OR OBJECT

During the notice period, proposed class members may opt out of the settlement or file objections to the settlement with the court.

FINAL APPROVAL AND FAIRNESS HEARING

The court conducts a final fairness hearing to determine whether it should approve the settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate. The court must evaluate the settlement as a whole, rather than assessing its individual components. Although the settlement must be filed with the court, the parties may petition the court to keep certain terms of the settlement agreement confidential, including side agreements, if necessary.

DISTRIBUTION OF SETTLEMENT FUNDS

A claims administrator manages the day-to-day operation of the settlement fund, including processing claims and disbursing awards. Leftover funds are often used for creating cy pres awards to charitable organizations that have a nexus to the class action dispute.

If you are having trouble sleeping, you can always read the entire document “Settling Class Actions” at this link: Settling Class Actions

Your alumni brother,

Jeff Nixon

NFL Concussion Settlement: Retaining Legal Representation

Dear Alumni: 

As I told many of you the day the proposed concussion settlement was announced, I was reserving judgment on the settlement until I had the opportunity to review the details. 

It has been a while since the settlement was announced and the main questions former players seem to be asking are: 

Am I eligible to become part of this Class Action if it is approved and if I did not file a concussion lawsuit?  

The proposed settlement contains language that makes it a “Class Settlement”. This means it includes not only the  4,500 players who have already filed suit, but approximately 20,000 players that are living and those who have passed away. It includes all former players from a player that had half a season to a long-term veteran. Given this, the next question generally is: 

Should I join the Concussion Action now and if so, how should I file my claim; through an attorney, or on my own?  

Assuming the proposed settlement is approved by the Court and that we all become part of the “Class” it is my strong advice to retain an attorney in order to protect your rights under the settlement now and in the future. It is most likely that the process for getting medically tested, or for receiving medical benefits, let alone obtaining an accurate diagnosis and receiving financial compensation will be a complicated and legal process that could go on for years. If you are not currently represented, I suggest retaining an attorney of your choice to protect your rights and benefits under the proposed settlement or to represent you if that settlement does not receive final approval. 

Since the onset of this litigation, I have continually recommended the Mitnick Law Office for representation in this concussion litigation and I continue to recommend Craig Mitnick to you. It is apparent to me that the Mitnick Firm has the best interests of the players at heart. Craig Mitnick has deep-rooted personal and professional relationships with retired players throughout the League and has for years. The Mitnick Firm represents over 1100 former players who have filed suit against the NFL. 

If you are still not represented by an attorney and want to join the “concussion action” with Mitnick Law Office representing you, just click on this link: www.playerinjury.com/questionaire/ 

I have searched for “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on the proposed settlement, as well as for any information that could assist Retired Players with understanding the proposed settlement. The only law firm that had any information available to the players was Mitnick Law Office. The explanation of the proposed settlement by Craig Mitnick was truly informative, easy to understand, and beneficial to read. Brief and to the point. 

Here is a link to that summary (a must read) ww.playerinjury.com/faq/

My take on the settlement details so far

Although the amount of the Settlement is far below what I believe the NFL should be paying to resolve this case, it is the best deal the lawyers were able to negotiate. Unlike the proposed settlement in NFL Films class action, players that have a severe cognitive impairment will receive a direct payment. 

I had hoped that the NFL would compensate former players for “mild” and “moderate” cognitive impairment, which are the criteria they use for the Neuro-cognitive benefit that is only available for vested players that have at least one credited season after 1994. The good news is you don’t have to be vested in order to be compensated under the proposed concussion Settlement. All former players are covered. I should also note that the Neuro-cognitive benefit ends at age 55, whereas the concussion settlement covers players of all ages.  

Although, a majority of players may not currently be suffering from severe cognitive impairment, the Settlement will allow you to be compensated if you become severely impaired in the future. It is important to note that the NFL will only pay the cost of baseline examinations and medical monitoring ($75 Million) for the next ten years. After 10 years, any funds allocated for this program that have not been spent will be added to the fund for payment of monetary awards. After that period of time, it appears that former players may be responsible for the cost of medical examinations.  

Ten years ago, my friend Ray Easterling appeared to be doing just fine, but in a relatively short period of time he began to experience the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This could happen to any of us.  In September 2009, a University of Michigan study, commissioned by the N.F.L., found that retired players of various ages had been found to have dementia at 5 to 19 times the national rate. 

If the proposed concussion class action is approved by Judge Brody, some former players that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and dementia – could still decide to opt out of the Settlement. If they opt out, they can still sue the NFL and try to recover more than the 5 million the NFL has set as a cap on individual payments. Obviously, that is a huge risk because there is no guarantee that they can win a case against the NFL.  If they don’t win, they will not be entitled to any payments under the proposed Settlement.   

I should note that, unlike the Dryer v NFL Films proposed settlement, the NFL cannot take any funds out of the Concussion Settlement to fight players that opt out and decide to sue the NFL. 

It is also important to know that if a former player is already receiving worker’s comp, NFL disability payments, the Neuro-cognitive benefit, or payments from the 88 Plan, those payments will not be affected if they receive an injury compensation award from the concussion settlement. No retired player will forfeit or become ineligible for any benefits provided by the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. 

I am pleased to see that the NFL has also agreed to provide $10 million for additional research and to support joint efforts by the NFL and retired NFL players to promote education and safety initiatives in youth football.  I hope they hire former NFL players to get this message out to all of the pee wee, pop warner and high school football players in the country.  

In closing, I want you to know that even though I am very disappointed in the overall price tag of the proposed Settlement, I believe there are some good things that will come out of it – namely, direct cash payments to players that have a severe cognitive impairment. There is no question in my mind that this settlement will provide benefits much sooner than we would have achieved through extended litigation. 

There are too many former players that need this assistance now…….and I will not be one to stand in their way. 

Again, if you are not currently represented and want for more information, or have questions about the concussion action, you can go to this link www.playerinjury.com.  

Your alumni brother, 

Jeff Nixon              

Terry Bradshaw on the proposed NFL Concussion Settlement

Dear Alumni: 

Sportswriter Bryce Miller wrote a November 7, 2013 article posted on the USA Today website entitled Terry Bradshaw coping with memory loss, depression.    

In the article he states Bradshaw opted out of the concussion lawsuit that was settled between the NFL and former players for $765 million.” 

That statement is false and misleading in two ways.  

First, the proposed NFL Concussion Settlement has not been approved by the Judge and it has not been settled.  

Secondly, no former player can “opt out” of the Settlement until the terms of the Settlement are officially sent out to the Class members. The NFL and the lawyers representing the former players have not even completed the final terms of the agreement. 

In the article, Terry Bradshaw said that his reasons for opting out were I didn’t want to be used” and “if I’m not in the settlement, that’s one less guy out of the mix to pay and a little more money for someone else who really needs it.” 

It’s true that Mr. Bradshaw did not file an individual lawsuit against the NFL and was not included in the Master Complaint that consolidated all the lawsuits. 

Maybe he’s confusing “opting out” with his decision not to join the 4,500 former players that sued the NFL and forced the NFL’s hand. It doesn’t matter, because even though he didn’t file, he will still be included in the Settlement – if it is approved.  

Bradshaw wants to exclude himself from the Settlement, but he may want to reconsider that option considering the fact that he is already experiencing the classic symptoms of traumatic brain injury.  

I haven’t seen the final details of the Settlement, but I assume that any compensatory award he might receive would be passed on to his family members when he joins our alumni brothers in the great hereafter.   

In the article, Mr. Bradshaw also said “I’m certainly nowhere near as bad as Tony [Dorsett] or Junior [Seau], that’s not where I am.” 

He may not be there now, but what about 10, 15 or 20 years from now? The Settlement will cover players that are diagnosed with “severe” cognitive impairments in the future.   

Bradshaw says he didn’t want to be used.  

Used for what?  

We didn’t need Terry Bradshaw to file a lawsuit to get the attention of the NFL owners. We had plenty of Hall of Fame players and other great players that were willing to fight for what’s right. We did just fine without him. 

He sat the bench on this one.  Now he wants to come across as a good guy for “opting out” and giving a “little more money for someone else.”  

News flash The money that he is giving up will not increase the amount that other players will receive. The Settlement will only allow a player to receive a specific amount based on a formula that includes the severity of a player’s injury, their current age and the number of years they played.    

Unfortunately for Bradshaw, the “Turk” will someday pay a visit to the set of “NFL on Fox” and like many players that get waived by their teams, he will realize that the NFL acronym in the television industry also stands for “Not For Long”- especially when you are starting to have memory and depression problems.  

The good news for Mr. Bradshaw is that by “opting out” of the NFL Settlement, he reserves the right to sue the NFL in the future. 

Maybe, just maybe, Terry Bradshaw is not the dumb blonde he would like us to think he is!  

Your alumni brother, 

Jeff Nixon

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis

Dear NFL Alumni:

On Tuesday, October 8, 2013 the PBS show Frontline will air the documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.”  You can see the trailer at the following link: PBS Documentary

As you have probably heard, ESPN decided to remove its corporate name from this documentary. The sports network, which has a lucrative deal to broadcast NFL games, will no longer permit Frontline to use its logos or other credits on the two-hour film, or two Frontline web sites related to it.

Back in 2011, ESPN signed a $15.2 billion contract with the NFL to broadcast Monday Night Football games from 2014 through 2021.

Although there is no direct evidence to show that the NFL pressured ESPN to bail out of the project, it has nonetheless provoked discussion on journalistic ethics, inappropriate corporate influence on investigative reporters, and the elevation of concern for profit over integrity.

ESPN President John Skipper said there were two things in the documentary that he thought were insufficiently respectful of the NFL.  One was the contention in the trailer that advised viewers to “get ready to change the way you see the game.”

Apparently ESPN is content with the way people see the game right now.

Judging from the comments that I have seen posted by fans regarding their feelings about the concussion lawsuits, this is a documentary that they should be required to watch. I hate to say this, but most fans, do not give a rat’s ass about former players. Once we have been used up and traded in for a new model, they don’t want to hear any whining from players that – in their mind’s – made millions of dollars doing something they could only dream of doing. The most common statement they make is “They knew what they were getting into!”

That might be true in today’s NFL – now that all the horror stories on the effects of traumatic brain injury have been told – but it certainly wasn’t true for thousands of players that rattled their brains before the scientific research started pouring in.

Yes, we knew that football was a dangerous game. Construction workers, policemen, firemen know that their occupations are dangerous too.  Does that stop them from going into those occupations? Hell no!

Should employees be compensated for injuries sustained on the job? Hell yes!

Should we ban police work, fire fighting, construction work and NFL Football. Hell no!

Should we continue to make these occupations safer? Hell yes!

Now, getting back to the documentary…….

ESPN’s second problem came with the trailer’s final sound bite, where neuropathologist Ann McKee says of brain damage, “I’m really wondering if every football player doesn’t have this.”

I think a lot of us are wondering the same thing.

The Concussion Settlement will provide free testing and assessment of brain injuries and cognitive impairment in former players.

The biggest question with respect to the Concussion Settlement is “How many former players will actually qualify for an injury award?” 

Even though I am supporting the Concussion Settlement – because it gets money “now” to the former players and families of deceased players that have Dementia, Alzheimers, ALS and Parkinson’s – I have concerns that a large majority of players will not be diagnosed with a “severe” cognitive impairment.

When we see the final details of the proposed concussion settlement, I have a sneaking suspicion that payments for former players will be lower than what we have been told. In addition to the severity of the cognitive impairment, a player’s age and years of service in the NFL will probably be factored into the amount of an injury award.

The Limbo bar has been set very low and I believe that a large majority of the 17,000 former players will not get under it.

My question to the NFL is “Just how low will you go?”

Jeff Nixon

New research on preventing concussions

Dear NFL Alumni:

For the past few years I have been advocating for the mandatory use of specialized mouth guards in the NFL as a way of reducing injury and possibly preventing concussions.

In studying and researching this issue, I am now convinced that new standards in neuromuscular dentistry should receive the same recognition given to new developments in helmet technology. Any NFL mouth guard mandate being considered should also focus on jaw alignment as it relates to neck strength and upper body muscle asymmetry.  These new mouth guard technologies, just as with helmet grading, clearly set the gold standard and should be an essential part of any neck strength initiative, regardless of their effect on concussion.

There is new validated scientific research that shows a well-developed neck likely defuses the potentially damaging forces sometimes generated when a player is hit in the head. Check out this article in Time Magazine: Neck Strength Predicts Concussion Risk

A simple battery of strength tests, now available to team trainers and physicians, can determine if one side of the neck or shoulder may stronger than the other.  If they are not symmetrical, it may be a symptom of pinched neuro-pathways due to a misalignment of the Temporal Mandible Joint, commonly known as temporal mandibular joint dysfunction or TMD.

Specialized, neuromuscular mouth guards are engineered to medical grade standard. They are made to open neuro-pathways in correcting each individual’s physiological deficiencies. This approach has shown in research to help in reducing micro trauma resulting in nausea, dings, dizziness, etc., in athletes who are post orthodontic or diagnosed with TMD. More research on concussion is needed in this area and its relation to CTE, but we do know there effect on upper body strength, balance and posture.

This new research has been reviewed by an NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee member who believes there may be a reasonable link. Nonetheless, the NFL isn’t convinced enough to implement a universal mandatory neck training protocol for all 32 teams – or set any standard for the use of any specific mouth guard. Players who have TMD may be at risk without any way of knowing.

The Committee said that every team’s strength and conditioning program emphasizes “neck muscles in one form or another”, but those weight programs lack any standard of care and vary from one team to another – a consistent problem with many NFL policies that pass the buck to the franchises.

The same is true for mouth guards. The common “boil and bite guards” most players use, randomly position the end of the jawbone dangerously close – just millimetres from where Dr. Cantu and military researchers have pinpointed the origins of CTE. That could change with the introduction of the Pure Power Mouth Guard developed by Dr. Anil Makkar and used by numerous professional athletes. Here is a link to their website Bite Advantage

This mouth guard employs a protocol to determine musculature asymmetry and a procedure to place the jaw in the best position for each individual – down to the millimetre.

As opposed to standard mouth guards that are flat-bottomed and mold to the upper teeth, these neuromuscular guards contain both upper and lower tooth indentations and slightly reposition the bite so that the jaw muscles and joints are stabilized, reducing stress on postural and upper body musculature.

Check out this video clip from Monday Night Football where John Gruden, Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico discuss this new mouth guard technology that most of the New Orleans Saints players are using.

The NFL Commissioner has already gone on record saying “I clearly think you would be safer with a mouth guard in your mouth.”  

Sportswriter Mike Florio recently discussed how mandatory leg pads in the NFL may be a gateway for mandatory mouth-guards in concussion prevention. During Florio’s radio talk show, Tony Dungy also supported the mandatory use of mouth guards.

All athletes should consider the new neck strength research and the Pure Power Mouth Guard technology not only for injury prevention, but performance enhancement.

Ravens strength coach Bob Rogucki recently said, “We probably put more emphasis on the neck because of the concussion aspect that now is part of our daily life.” He also said It’s important that they can walk off the field without their head being strapped down to a [stretcher].”

I think we can all agree with that last statement.

Send the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell and the NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith a quick email letting them know that it’s time to protect players by mandating the use of neuromuscular mouth guards and the establishment of a league-wide uniform protocol for neck and shoulder strength symmetry.

Just click on the following links and it should take you directly to your email program.

roger.goodell@nfl.com

demaurice.smith@nflplayers.com

As former players, we have always been at the forefront of helping active players by advocating for changes in their equipment, game rules, practice conditions and the NFL policies that they play under. Without our voices added to the mix, it is unlikely that many changes would have made by the NFL or NFLPA. 

Sincerely,

Jeff Nixon 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,597 other followers