The suicide of Dave Duerson, a long-time National Football League Players Association stalwart, came during a collective bargaining impasse between the union and the owners. The sad truth revealed by the maudlin first round of reaction to the news that Duerson probably had severe brain damage from football concussions – something postmortem study will have to confirm – is that these contract negotiations do not, in the familiar idiom, simply pit greedy billionaires against greedy millionaires. Rather, they pit billionaires who know what they’re doing against millionaires who don’t have a clue.
That’s the only logical conclusion I can draw from the fact that Duerson, while losing his Goliath post-NFL career food distribution business, plunging into personal bankruptcy, seeing his house seized by a bank, and getting arrested for beating his wife – all among the telltale signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – was being appointed by the Players Association as one of the trustees of a league fund, jointly administered by management and union, to compensate retired players with disability claims. These included since 2007, under the “88 Plan,” claims for reimbursement of acute care expenses for players with dementia.
Who needed a fox guarding the chicken coop when there was a hypermacho-enabling union more focused on the fair division of the NFL’s $9 billion revenue pie than on whether its members worked under conditions that would give them a reasonable expectation of living and functioning past age 50?
CONTINUED TODAY AT BEYOND CHRON, THE SAN FRANCISCO ONLINE NEWSPAPER: