My Resignation letter to NFL Alumni Chapter Presidents

Dear NFL Alumni Chapter Presidents:

As the Chairman of the NFL Alumni Board of Chapter Presidents, it is my responsibility to notify you about the annual meeting, the agenda and the election process for the Board of Chapter Presidents. This will be my last official duty as the Chairman. In fact, it will be my last day as a member of the organization. I will be submitting my resignations to Joe Pisarcik, the new Executive Director of the NFL Alumni Association, effective Tuesday, March 5, 2013. 

If you have any agenda items please submit them to Al Smith, the Vice-Chairman, as soon as possible. According to the by-laws, he assumes the Chairmanship in the event of any vacancy or resignation. I’m not sure if Al Smith wants to assume the Chairmanship, but until he says otherwise, you should submit your agenda items to him, in writing, at least thirty (30) days prior to the meeting.

As per the by-laws, the election for officers of the Board of Chapter Presidents will take place at the Annual Convention.

Now, let me tell you why I am resigning.

I know this letter is long, but I feel it is my duty to give you a full accounting of why I am taking this action. 

First, you should know that there are two distinct organizations that I will be addressing in this letter. My issues and concerns are only with the NFLAA (NFL Alumni Association) not the NFL Alumni Inc. which oversees the Charity and Chapter functions of the organization.

Mr. Pisarcik wanted me to assist with the nomination and election processes for both of those Boards, as well as the Joint Board.

In a February 19, 2013 email to me, Mr. Pisarcik said “In regards to an election, hope you can help, it is the function of the Chairmen of Chapter Presidents.” 

Contrary to what Joe Pisarcik said, it is not the function of the Chairman of Chapter Presidents.

In a February 20, 2013 email, I asked Mr. Pisarcik to tell me who was on the Nominating Committee – and if they had recommended anyone to the Chapter Presidents. He told me that he had asked Randy Minniear to chair the committee, but he said that due to recent NFLAA Board resignations, there was no active nominating committee.

Nonetheless, it was Mr. Pisarcik’s duty under the by-laws to appoint members to the Nominating Committee and he should have acted on this issue months ago while he was still the President of the NFLAA.      

In my email to Mr. Pisarcik, I included the section of the NFLAA by-laws where it states “Not less than ninety (90) days prior to the annual meeting of the Board of Chapter Presidents, the Nominating Committee shall notify the Chapter Presidents that they may propose qualifying members for nomination as Joint Directors

For the record, I was not asked by Mr. Pisarcik to be on the Nominating Committee and I am not on the Board of Directors for either the NFLAA, or NFL Alumni Inc. The Chairman of the Board for each of those organizations is responsible for conducting their own elections and procedures for voting; just as long as they are consistent with their by-laws. Each organization has its own set of by-laws.

It was Mr. Pisarcik’s responsibility to make sure that the Nominating Committee sent their recommendations to Chapter Presidents sometime before January 25, 2013. They are now two full months over the deadline.

Some people might think that following the by-laws is not really that important, but I think it is indicative of some bigger problems – a lack respect for the membership, a lack of knowledge of the bylaws, and in general – a lack of leadership. This is one of the reasons I am resigning.  

This type of behavior reminds me of the Wall Street “wheelers and dealers” that have been breaking the rules and getting away with things for way too long, with no consequences for their actions that are hurting the “Average Joe” on Main Street.

Mr. Pisarcik recently offered me a contract for $1,300 a month to start working again on the “Jeff Nixon Report.” This included researching information, writing articles and sending email links out to the 8,000 former players on my own personal email list; one that I have compiled over the last 6 years. My work would also include responding to thousands of former player’s questions, comments and concerns – just as I have done over the past few years for the NFLAA. Some people might think this is an easy thing to do. I assure you it is not.

The contract Mr. Pisarcik offered me, contained an Indemnification clause that says that I agree to indemnify and hold harmless the NFL Alumni and its directors, officers and employees from any and all liabilities, losses, costs, damages, claims, liens, judgments, penalties, fines, attorneys’ fees, court costs. In other words – if I got sued for something I wrote, said or did – it would all fall on me. No protection whatsoever. Nonetheless, I was willing to sign the agreement – at that particular time – and assume all the risk.

Unfortunately, Mr. Pisarcik insisted that the contract contain the following clause: “Either party may terminate this Agreement at any time on fourteen (14) days advance written notice to the other party.”

I asked Mr. Pisarcik to eliminate that clause from the contract and told him I would not sign it if was in the contract. The same language was in the previous contact that I signed with George Martin, but frankly speaking, I did not trust Mr. Pisarcik enough to allow that language to stay in the new contract. I reminded him that there is already language in the contract that says he can terminate me immediately, if I did not perform the duties and responsibilities required under the contract. There were no guarantees of compensation if I didn’t do my job. 

In my email, I asked Mr. Pisarcik if he would sign a contract with the NFL Alumni Board of Directors if it had a 14 day termination clause in it. He didn’t answer my question, but it was interesting to find out that the Board did have a clause in his initial contract offer that would have allowed the Board to remove him “at will.” I was told by several board members that he demanded that the clause be removed from the contract – and they did.

I declined his offer to work for the NFL Alumni Association. I have a very good paying job as the Youth Service Director for the Buffalo Employment and Training Center, and I don’t need the money – but more importantly, I don’t need to work for a Director who does not value me as a person, or as a member of the organization.

In a February 27, 2013 email, Mr. Pisarcik asked me if I would reconsider the contract and said “it’s not about the guarantee, it’s about the person.” 

Clearly, he would not work for the NFLAA without at least some type of protection in his contract, but that is exactly what he wanted me to do. That kind of hypocrisy is just another reason why I have decided to resign.

In his February 27 email, he also said I have worked for 17 yrs on Wall Street I had to prove myself every day. No guarantees.”

Good for him. I’m sure he learned a lot about how to deal with people on Wall Street, but I come from Main Street, and folks like me need straight talkers not city slickers that are selling snake oil. As I already pointed out, there was no guarantee. Secondly, if it was all about trusting the person, or in this case the people, then why didn’t Joe accept the Board members initial contract offer to him – the one that allowed them to remove him at will? Didn’t he trust them?

Mr. Pisarcik also insisted that if I entered into an agreement, I would need to resign my position as a Chapter President and the Chairman of the Board of Chapter Presidents. He said it would be a violation of the NFL Alumni Association by-laws for me to hold those Board positions and receive compensation.

In a February 27, 2013 email to Mr. Pisarcik, I told him I would be willing to resign those positions, but not because it would be a violation of the by-laws. In my email, I showed him that under Article X:  Compensation – it states Except for the Executive Director, Officers and Directors as such shall not receive any salary for their services; provided, however, that Officers and Directors are not precluded from serving the Association in any other capacity and receiving reasonable compensation for such service.

Mr. Pisarcik has flat out lied to me about the by-laws and that is just one more reason why I have decided to resign.

In my opinion, Mr. Pisarcik does not want former players like me in the organization. I have been an outspoken advocate for retired players and I have a terrible habit of asking questions and providing information that make people in positions of power feel very uncomfortable. I think that is why a majority of you voted for me to be the Chairman of the Board of Chapter Presidents.

Did I have the most experience running a Chapter?  No. In fact, I had only recently become the President of the Upstate New York Chapter when you elected me. I think you elected me because you wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions.

I had hoped to make a difference in my elected positions within the organization, but it has become clear to me that Joe Pisarcik does not want anyone rocking the boat – or some people even in the boat. Information is power, and some people don’t want to empower others. For example:

How many of you were informed that the Board was in the process of selecting a new Director?

Why was there no national search for a new director?

The Board had every right to select Mr. Pisarcik, but why the secrecy?

If all the members of the NFL Alumni had known that Joe Pisarcik was being considered as the new Executive Director, would he have been selected? I have my doubts.

Thomas Jefferson once said that “Information is the currency of democracy.”  Well folks, I hate to say this, but I think we are all getting short-changed.

I just recently discovered that Carl Mauk, Dave Carter, Tom Baugh and Nathaniel Wright have resigned from the NFL Alumni Association Board.  How many of you knew that?

One of the board members sent me an email yesterday telling me that Mr. Pisarcik told the Board members in a conference call that “We’re going to have to tell Jeff to tone down the CTE and brain injury stuff.”

The Board member went on to say “I was aghast that he would say or even think that. I believe the he and at least one other have taken the NFL’s offer to be the eyes and ears. Unfortunately it comes with shackles, a huge debt that they created, and only they can forgive. They will spoon feed the Alumni with just enough life sustaining nourishment to keep us alive. Keep up your good work Jeff and don’t give in to becoming the mouth of the league. Tell them the whole story.”

I am not going to reveal the name of the board member that sent me the email, because I don’t want them to suffer any retribution or reprisals from anyone. The Board member that told me this was risking a lot, and I consider him to be one of the best advocates for former players. All he was trying to do was warn me about the coming “gag order.”

Even though the Board selected Mr. Pisarcik to lead the NFLAA, they knew his selection would cause a stink in the ranks of the membership and the retired player community, so they did the honorable thing and resigned from the Board.  Some people might call that jumping ship, but I prefer to look at it as not wanting to go down with the ship; a ship that is headed by a Captain who is not listening to anyone and is going full speed ahead…….straight toward an iceberg.    

Joe Pisarcik was the President of the NFL Alumni Association during the tenure of George Martin and as such, he was the person most responsible for overseeing the operations of the organization. It was Joe Pisarcik who allowed Mr. Martin to spend money like it was his own personal piggy-bank. The board members share some of the blame for the mismanagement of the previous administration, but in most cases they only knew what Mr. Pisarcik was telling them.

Apparently, Mr. Pisarcik hasn’t learned anything from the way the organization was run by George Martin.    

In the end, Mr. Martin became a scapegoat for the failures of Joe Pisarcik and – to a certain extent – the Board.

Don’t get me wrong; Mr. Martin had his own issues with accountability and sharing information with Board, but even so, Joe Pisarcik and the Board still allowed him to execute contracts with almost no restrictions on the amount, length and terms of those contracts. They also allowed him to accept loans from the NFL that the organization had very little chance of paying back. 

By accepting those loans, the NFL Alumni is now in a position of owing the League for a long, long time. The owners have forgiven some of the loan debt – but not all of it.

Does anyone, other than a handful of members know how much the NFL Alumni Association actually owes the NFL owners? Maybe Joe Pisarcik and few others do, but they sure as hell haven’t told me and they haven’t told most of you either.

I just recently found out that the League is providing the NFL Alumni Association with another one million dollar loan – although it has some strings tied to it if they want to continue receiving future loans.

Here is a sad analogy:

Do you know why the U.S. can’t do anything about China’s civil rights violations and the way they treat their workers? Because we owe them a trillion dollars and if we tried to do something to change their behavior, they would simply call in their loan (Treasury Notes) and totally destroy our economy – bankrupt us – or at the very least, have the threat of doing so! 

This is the same thing that has now happened to the NFL Alumni Association in its relationship with the NFL – and that is tragic.

Back in 2008, Bruce Laird, Fourth and Goal members and a few other retired player advocates – including myself – had a vision for what we thought the NFL Alumni Association could do as an advocacy group for retired players. But the organization needs great leaders to accomplish its goals. Unfortunately, George Martin pulled our pants down and now the new director wants us to bend over to the will of the League and be nothing more than their mouthpiece. That has gone on long enough and I won’t be any part of it. 

In my opinion, the NFL Alumni Association can no longer be a true advocate for retired players, so they may as well stop the charade and start concentrating on what they have always done best: “Caring for Kids” and helping communities through fundraising efforts under the NFL Alumni Inc. and the local Chapters. They have done a remarkable job, but unfortunately the NFL Alumni Association has been a millstone around their neck and has dragged some of the Chapters down. 

Many Chapter Presidents are upset about the lack of communication from Joe Pisarcik during the time he was acting as the interim director for the organization. I did my best to let you know what was happening, but I was given very little information.

During the past year, there were rumors flying around that the organization might declare bankruptcy.  Joe wouldn’t confirm or deny those rumors to me, so I was in the dark, just like you.    

The LTA (Logo Trust Agreement) with the NFL expired back on March 31, 2012 and because there was no agreement – and the specter of bankruptcy looming over our heads – there were a number of Chapters that did not hold golf tournaments this past spring and summer. There was too much uncertainty for them to tell the teams in their golf tournaments that the winner of their tournament would be going to the SuperBowl of Golf. That, as you know, is the event that attracts many of the teams and sponsors to play in the Chapter tournaments. 

After our annual convention last May, Mr. Pisarcik told me that he and Randy Minniear would be meeting with the owners regarding the LTA, but he wanted those negotiations to remain confidential while they were still in progress. I agreed. Nonetheless, there was other information I requested from him regarding the financials of the organization that he basically ignored.   

I was told by a few board members that Mr. Pisarcik was against the idea of declaring bankruptcy, but after 10 months of operating without an LTA, some of the Board members were finally able to convince him that it was their only recourse. The Board finally took action and formally resolved to file for bankruptcy and with it, protection from their creditors. That action might have been the only reason the NFL finally signed the LTA. They did not want the embarrassment of locking the NFL Alumni doors and shutting us down. That would have been a public relations nightmare for the League.     

By the way, if you did not know that the NFLAA had signed a new LTA, it’s because there are people that don’t want you to know. Maybe they’re afraid you might ask about the details of the agreement. Heaven forbid you should know anything about the legal document that provides almost all of the money the organization receives.

When I recently found out that a deal had been reached, I was told to keep it quiet. When I asked Mr. Pisarcik why he didn’t want to announce this, he said the League didn’t want it disclosed yet.

This is this kind of secrecy that should not be tolerated by the membership, and it’s just another reason why I have decided to resign from the organization. 

You would think that the signing of the LTA is something the NFL and the NFL Alumni Association would want to shout from the rooftops. The agreement provides $900,000 annually, to be split between the NFL Alumni Inc. and the NFL Alumni Association.

In my opinion the NFL owners should have given the entire $900,000 to the Chapters instead of splitting it with Joe Pisarcik and the NFL Alumni Association.

Mr. Pisarcik told me he is only making $150,000 under his contract. I hope he doesn’t expect that to garner any sympathy from the pioneer players that are barely keeping their heads above water.

In some small way, I was hoping that I could help the NFL Alumni Association restore some the credibility it had lost with many of the retired players – including our own membership.  But, in light of some of the recent developments and revelations, I have finally come to the conclusion and realization that I can do more to advocate for former players on the outside, then I can on the inside.

In closing, I want to wish all the Chapter Presidents the very best in all your endeavors. You and your members are the life-blood of the organization and the only thing that we can really hang our hats on.

I will continue to be an advocate for former players and I will continue to write about the issues that affect all of us.

Do your best to hold the new administration’s feet to the fire.

Demand the information; ask the hard questions, look at the books and don’t except lame answers, poor excuses, or even worse – no answers or information at all. 

I hope my communication does something to change the culture and mindset of the NFL Alumni Association and I hope you elect some Board members that will fight for the accountability, transparency, and integrity that is so desperately needed at the NFLAA.

Your Alumni brother,

Jeff Nixon

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About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on April 5, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. thank you for this informatio

  2. Thanks for the info. A few of us were just wondering about the status of the Alumni Assoc. since Martin’s departure.

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