The NFLPA is losing the “Trust” of Legacy Players
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,