Our good friend, disability attorney John Hogan, sent out some additional comments about the upcoming NFLPA Exit Symposium in Puerto Rico this May. It’s supposed to be a seminar for retiring players to learn about adapting and transitioning into life after football, complete with employment counselors and psychologists to assist departing players.
In a memorandum issued March 14, 2008 to Active Players and Vested Former Players, the NFL and NFLPA announced important changes to disability benefits available under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan. While touted as improvements, the announcement will eliminate retroactive benefits formerly available to players who become totally and permanently disabled. For a current or former player who will seek total and permanent football related disability benefits after April 1, 2008, this change to the Plan will reduce the disability benefits currently payable by as much as $367,000.00.
Well, it was bound to happen. While a lot of our friends who read Dave’s blog enjoyed the new Gene Marie Antoinette Upshaw look, a lot of folks have already written in asking about that “Let ’em eat cake!” comment. Besides – it’s another opportunity to post that picture again, so here’s the story behind the cake comment!
While “Let them eat cake.” has now been historically credited to someone else, it was long attributed to Marie Antoinette who was married to King Louis XVI of France. At the height of the French Revolution in the 18th century, there were only two classes of people: The rich aristocracy and the poor lower class. Rumor has it that when Queen Marie-Antoinette was told that the peasants had no bread, her response was, “Well, let them eat cake!” Of course, not long after that, the French citizenry stormed the Bastille and put the King and his wife in prison. Eventually, Marie-Antoinette and her husband were beheaded on the guillotine. We couldn’t think of a funnier way to illustrate the arrogance of Gene Upshaw’s public comments to all the disabled retired players.
Here are comments from an earlier post from Tony Davis about What Gene Upshaw Thinks of Us:
Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports in a new article that the NFL is carrying over $9 billion (yes, that’s a ‘B’!) in debt. Apparently, it was revealed as an exhibit in court filings from recent union discussions. But before you fall over in amazement, the league’s lawyers also said that the debt is not really a problem since their projected cash flow is more than adequate to service the debt (almost $7 billion in 2006 alone).
What’s interesting, however, is that over 25% of that debt is from financing for new stadiums in New York and Dallas. So here’s the math: They have $9 billion in debt but they can easily finance nearly $2.5 billion in loans to the Giants, Jets and Cowboys because they have nearly $7 billion a year in cash flow.
Well, now that we know the numbers better, we can be assured that no one’s going to go bankrupt any time soon in spite of all that saber-rattling from Gene Upshaw to the disabled players. We now know that they have the money AND the cash flow to be very generous with taking care of their retired disable players as well. Heck – if they can afford $220,000 for a vanity ad in Ebony Magazine last year for Gene Upshaw and their Assistant Benefits Director can afford to spend $1200 for a 24-hour stay in Miami, then they should surely be able to pony up a billion for their disabled players. After all, it’s only money, right, Gene?
Our friends over at RetiredPlayers,org first covered this in a post HERE, with their piece titled Gene Upshaw Advertisement in Ebony Magazine. But it starts to get really interesting since their post. We did a search for the press release on NFLPlayers.com as well as trying to find NFLPA.org and – mysteriously – found absolutely no lingering archives of the article anywhere any more. Using Google, we managed to find a reference to a PDF version of the piece but also hit another wall with a strangely corrupt PDF file! (RetiredPlayers did post a link to it HERE. But we don’t know how long THAT will stay up either so…)
But thanks to Google’s caching feature, we did manage to find the copy that was in the NFLPA Press Release and we’re posting it in its entirety below, along with two of the four pages that basically serve as nothing more than another opportunity to boost Gene Upshaw’s ego even further into the stratosphere. Is it a coincidence that the press release is no longer available? What makes the retired players REALLY angry however, is that the piece turned out to be written by a hired hack and the entire 4-page “article” was a paid advertisement in Ebony. At current ad rates, the piece probably cost all of us close to a whopping $250,000. If we hadn’t already done a Mastercard Priceless commercial post on Christophene Smith’s $1200+ overnight Miami stay, this would have been another great Mastercard joke! We can only conjure up images of Nero fiddling away while Rome burned. Or how about Marie Antoinette telling all her starving French subjects, “Let them eat cake!” (Of course, not long after saying that, the French citizens beheaded her!)
Anyway, here’s the original NFLPA Press Release in its entirety and the Gene Upshaw brag sheets follow:
A while back, the New York Times out together this touching multimedia slideshow entitled Life After Football. It gives readers a glimpse into the lives of four all-time NFL greats: Conrad Dobler, Donnie Green, Mike Mosley and Brian DeMarco; the slideshow accompanied an article entitled, A Battle Over Who’s Helping Disabled Players Rages Anew, which covers a subject getting increasing coverage by the day. View the slideshow HERE. and read the article HERE.
Brain DeMarco sits at home unable to work because of severe injuries from his years in the NFL. See that cable coming out of the wall on the left? They had to sell their TV set to buy food for their family.
Senator Arlen Specter
711 Hart Building
Washington , DC 20510
We are a humbled team of Retired NFL Players who have formed a Community in an attempt to get some assistance with regards to the current condition of our Disability and Pension Plans. You may have seen or even been witness to many of our players who are in such debilitating physical conditions that they need aid to walk and even sit up. Remarkably, despite these conditions that are the direct result of injuries suffered during their NFL careers, they have been denied Disability Benefits. Multiple concussions and their side effects are just now surfacing in many of us who not only suffered them multiple times, we even played games while our brains were scrambled. We played extensively on a surface (AstroTurf) that was a nylon carpet on top of cement. The damage to our joints, 10 to 20 years after our careers have ended, is now crippling. Despite the knowledge of the damage caused from the most violent game in sports, it is amazing that neither the NFL nor the NFLPA has kept a record of injuries from this and other surfaces over the years. We feel this
move was on purpose.
This piece by John Fennelly for The Bleacher Report was first published in November 2007, right after Mike Ditka’s press conference. The title of the article (NFL Pension Dispute: The Shame of Gene Upshaw) pretty much sums it up but his closing sentence has gotta hurt. Read it HERE.]
Monthly pension paid to Hall of Famer Herb Adderley for his 12 years of service – $126.85!
24-hour stay in Miami Beach for the 2004 NFLPA Retirement Board Meeting – $1,249.00!
Even MC Hammer recognizes the dysfunctionality of the NFLPA and has offered to act as an intermediary in getting new ideas to the players’ union in its collective bargaining negotiations. (Are you listening, Gene?) From his blog piece NFL Talks End HERE.
We’ve been getting requests recently to help pull groups together for one cause or another. This one came in from Dave Heuschkel at The Hartford Courant and speaks for itself:
I’m a reporter at the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. I’m working on a story about former NFL players with Connecticut ties who are experiencing medical or financial hardship. Below is a list of former players who were born in Connecticut. I’m sure you recognize some of these names and some of whom may be deceased. If you know any who are going through some tough times who have been shunned by the NFL and/or NFLPA, I would appreciate if you could let me know. I understand a lot of former players are proud men, some too proud to beg. Any help would be appreciated.
For a guy who knows the law and can read his NFLPA card, the NFLPA’s Gene Upshaw seems to keep coming up a few fries short of a Happy Meal. I just received this call-to-arms from Tony Davis asking for all of us retired players (and all lovers of the game) to write or call your Senators and Congressmen (and Congresswomen) to let them know about this outrageous and open looting of our resources by people who have no concern for our welfare at all. Tony includes links to e-mail and/or office addresses for members of Congress and the Senate. (You may want to include NFL in the subject line to make sure they don’t dump your correspondence if they see you’re from out of their district!)
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 21:52:08 -0700 (PDT) “M.E. Davis” wrote:
We surfed over to the official NFLPA website to see if we could look over the “Rules & Regulations” in more detail when we discovered there was a “Resources” button on the left side of the screen. When you click on it, this is what you get:
On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 6:56 AM, Dave Pear wrote:
Thank you. Don’t worry, this disrespect INSPIRES me. I will not tire out or give up because I know I’m right.
Dave & Heidi
This weekend, I received an insightful e-mail back from our SS Disability attorney friend, John Hogan, with his observations about the proposed Alliance Plan from Commissioner Goodell. I told him I’d try calling Sarah Gaunt again on Monday morning.
So this morning, I called the Union office again to ask about this new plan and the call was picked up by a ‘CJ’ who apparently runs the front desk (or screens our calls). I told her who I was and asked to speak with Sarah regarding some questions I had. I was put on hold for about 5 minutes. When she finally came back on the line, she told me that Sarah was “busy” (again) and couldn’t take my call. So I asked her if I could pose the questions to her instead, to which she told me that she was “busy with other calls.” To which I asked her what the difference was with MY call and any other calls she might have. She again put me on hold and then hung up on me a couple of minutes later without coming back on the line.
Tell me this, Sarah and CJ: If the President of the United States were to call you today, would you take his call and put him through? Well, guess what? He’s not calling you today, so put my call through instead! The last time we all looked, it’s ALL of the players – Past., Present AND Future – who pay your salaries (maybe Gene sort of forgot to tell you that!).
After posting Dave’s application to Commissioner Goodell’s Alliance, we felt it was as good a time as any to follow up with an old interview Sports Blogger, Michael David Smith, had with Dave in 2006 for Football Outsiders.
Remembering Those Who Paved the Way
I got a lot of e-mails and one phone call in response to my column on Al Davis this week. That phone call was from Dave Pear, a former Raiders lineman who disagreed with the kind words I had for Davis. My column this week stems from my conversation with Pear.