A lot of the other retired players have talked to me about these comments and something just kept bothering us. Then the other day, I happened to pull my NFLPA membership card out of my wallet and did a double take. Check out the wording on the front and back of the card for yourself:
NPR interviewed Michael Leahy right after his piece came out in the Sunday Washington Post, The Pain Game, previously posted on this blog. From NPR’s site:
“Dozens of former pro football players say the NFL and the NFL players union should do more to help with pension and disability payments after their years of playing through pain and injury. Michael Leahy of the Washington Post tells the story of retired Super Bowl champion Dave Pear, who is disabled.”
Listen to the interview on NPR’s site HERE. [6 min 42 sec]
By DANIEL KAPLAN Staff writer – Sports Business Journal
Published February 18, 2008 : Page 01
Compensation at the NFL Players Association rose 58 percent in the 2007 fiscal year to more than $17 million, the group’s most recent tax return shows.
Some of that increase includes the previously disclosed doubling of Executive Director Gene Upshaw’s take, but pay to the union’s 93 other mployees during that year rose 41 percent as well, according to the return.
Upshaw said that a number of key executives left the union in the past several years, and they were entitled to take their retirement benefits upon their departure. And he added his pay reflected bonuses that he earned as far back as 2002. The departure of several key executives in recent years helped drive up the figures, Executive Director Gene Upshaw said.
The disclosure comes at a time when the union has been under heavy criticism for not doing enough about retired players with disability and other needs, so predictably, the compensation figures drew fire.
Please open (attached) and scroll down to the last paragraph. I will quote the wording, ” If you would like to review the official Retirement Plan document, please contact the Plan Administrative office at the above address.” When I follow these instructions I am told, “Contact The Groom Law Group”.
Question? Is The Groom Law Group now the Plan Administrator?
Question? It has been almost 4 months since I have contacted the Plan Administrator and I have not yet received the official retirement plan documents. What do you suggest I do?
“What about the others? The journeymen? They’re in the basement of this frigid home. There’s Donnie Green, the big tackle who blocked for O. J. Simpson during his great years in Buffalo. He now gets $400 per month and has become familiar with life in a homeless shelter.
And there’s Dave Pear, who spent most of his career with bad teams in Tampa Bay but retired a Raider, before his 30th birthday. His last game was Oakland’s win over Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV.
Pear had injured his spine but took painkillers and played anyway. He has since endured seven surgeries. Now 54, he needs a cane to get around. Takes 38 pills a day. His monthly pension check: $606.
(Re-printed in its entirety with permission to Dave from Charlie McElheney)
I had the opportunity and privilege to participate with the Gridiron Greats in their events recently in Arizona. I fully support this heart felt fund for retired NFL players, all including yourself Mr. Upshaw who inspired me throughout my childhood and my football years as a young man. This game of football taught me valuable lessons that prepared me for adulthood.
The greatest lesson of “TEAM” all working together to achieve one or more goal(s), responsibilities making the play, depending on each individual to execute their assignments, to play by the rules, to protect/respect each other on and off the field, and to be their for each other in time of need. It brings to mind the word “FAMILY” and those lessons learned apply in each of our daily life’s.
I would like to thank Mr. Pear and all of the Gridiron Greats for making my trip to Arizona an unbelievable /unforgettable experience.
7th Request: Gene Upshaw, “I have never turned my back on a retired player.” Please contact me.
Feb. 12, 2008
Would you kindly contact me so we can discuss the following:
1) Wash Post magazine article on Super Bowl Sunday 2/3/08 (The Pain Game)
2) Mishandling of my 1983 line of duty disability; (LOD)
3) Mishandling of my 1995 total and permanent disability; (T&P)
4) Early Retirement or Early Payment Benefit
When you call, please have a copy of the Bert Bell Plan document
so we can discuss the following:
Gene Upshaw: “Once he took that pension, that was it. He can’t get a disability (benefit). That’s not only the rule of the retirement plan — it’s the law.” .
Michael Leahy from the Washington Post: I ask if he is certain of that. .
Gene Upshaw: “Yes,” he answers. “It’s not just the NFL; it’s the law.” .
But it’s not the law, says the attorney Upshaw himself retained. Lanny Davis, in a separate interview, says the NFL could grant both a pension and a right to a disability payment. “It’s discretionary,” Davis says, “which is the way it is with most corporations.” . Link to the Washington Post articleHERE. .
Dave spent countless hours trying to contact people within the NFL and the NFLPA about its disability and benefits programs. Up to this point, he’s received no clear answers from anyone, especially from those who are supposed to be in charge and who should know. Even worse, Gene Upshaw has taken it upon himself to take personal swipes at the very players he’s supposed to help, including re-interpreting the law on disability benefits. You’d think that with all those high-priced attorneys, someone would be able to straighten him out on Federal laws as well as provide the players with a current (old past) copies of the Plan. We’ll post a copy of Upshaw’s re-interpretation of Federal Labor Laws in a separate post to follow.
Here’s a post of Dave’s unanswered requests to Gene Upshaw to date:
6th Request: Gene Upshaw, “I have never turned my back on a retired player”
Poor Gene Upshaw – the poor guy just can’t get a break. Nobody seems to like him so he has to cry all the way to the bank. Some players are even making it more personal as you’ll see in the article. Read Gary Smith’s Bitter Battle for the Old Guard.
CRO: Corporate Responsibility Officer. They even have a magazine with that title. But they definitely don’t have a CRO in the NFL or the NFLPA! CRO Magazine wrote a piece about Mike Ditka’s personal crusade to help the disabled retired players. The article cites more incriminating links on the incestuous role Gene Upshaw has with insiders who have no interest in anything other than the bottom line. Read Mike Ditka flags NFL on its CR Gameday.
The Portland Tribune‘s Kerry Eggers writes a detailed piece before SuperBowl Sunday about the Catch-22 process that disabled retired players face before they get turned down by the NFLPA’s secretive review committee. ReadLocal Ex-Pro Fights NFL.
Here’s a piece that was published on RetiredPlayers.org that gives you a better idea of how much the NFLPA’s Gene Upshaw gets paid. Let’s see: If Gene got paid $1 million a year instead, that would leave $5.6 million a year left to pay 100 disabled retired players a little over $50,000 a year. Or 200 disabled retired players a little over $25,000 a year! Just what are they paying HIM $6.6 million a year to do exactly? Not represent the players, that’s for sure! Oink Oink!