NFL Legacy Fund For Retirees Is Listed As ‘Doubtful’ This Week

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In my support of retired National Football League players who have been screwed by the pension and disability system, I try to get beyond populist cheap shots. After all, we fans can imagine that some of the on-field heroes of our youth did not prove to be off-field financial geniuses when their careers ended. Also, not even the best-intentioned safety nets are perfect.

But I have to say that the NFL Players Association, which has been crowing about the Legacy Fund that “it” negotiated in the recent collective bargaining agreement, keeps making it awfully hard not to take sides.

Many weeks after the contract talks were concluded, commissioner Roger Goodell is on what seems to be a listening tour of various retiree critics, trying to arrive at a formula with the NFLPA on how this half-billion-dollar fund will get distributed.

Obviously, such a sum of money is not chicken feed. By the same token, you can hardly blame the retirees, who feel they have been misled before by the union, from resisting the message that they shouldn’t be worrying their pretty little heads. The devil is always in the details, and whether a $176 monthly pension check gets increased to $1,000 or $1,500 – I’m just throwing wild, hypothetical numbers out there – makes a difference in people’s lives.

We’ve all heard about the game-within-the-game. Well, this is the negotiation-within-the-negotiation. NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith, playing bump-and-run coverage against dissident retiree wideouts with no help over the top, is getting his usual F for communications, just like his predecessor Gene Upshaw. When all is said and done, this could very well translate into an unsatisfactory grade on the substance, as well.

Dave Pear, of Independent Football Veterans, says the latest vaguely worded information on the Legacy Fund suggests that it will wind up saddling beneficiaries with a “Hobson’s choice.” He says the bottom line, via NFL benefits lawyer Dennis Curran, is that pre-1993 players will have to calculate whether it is better to wait until they are 65 to take their pensions under the Bert Bell / Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan, along with a delayed “legacy benefit,” or to take the pension immediately at a reduced monthly amount in return for an immediate legacy payout.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s less than helpful for this community of jocks – who have shaky actuarial expectations of making it to age 65 in the first place – to have to hire moonlighting consultants from Price Waterhouse in order to interpret what they might be getting, if and when the NFL and the NFLPA decide they’ve worked things out to the extent that they can let them start getting it?

This is a very rich league, folks, the richest in sports history. Why can’t it show its people the money?


Irv Muchnick


  1. Dave Pear says:

    Hi Irv,

    Thank you for exposing our phony union (again). However, I would not give De Smith a grade of F I would give him a G. An F would be an insult to any grading system. I would then ask Smith,”what happened to the $500,000,000 that he hid from retired players in the recent CBA”? In fact, The NFL called a meeting with attorney Michael Hasufeld (and his legal team) who represent retired players and explained to them that the NFLPA hid half a billion dollars from retired players. What happened to this money? Then Smith makes up a fairy tale claiming he represented retired players. Go fish Smith! And take the rest of your crooked staff who still have their high paying jobs plus a raise after being convicted in federal court of “breach of fiduciary duty” and “breach of contract” in the Players Inc. trial and then ordered to pay 2,062 retired players $28,100,000 in damages for stealing our images and paying us nothing. Oh, Gene Upshaw compared us to dog food. What a scam.

    Note: The $28,100,000 in damages was for the conviction of “breach of fiduciary duty” by the NFLPA. Certainly the NFLPA and the Bell/Rozelle Disability board have breached their fiduciary duty towards retired players on Disability. So, breach of fiduciary duty must be moral and or a legal issue. Isn’t it? It was in the Players Inc. trial. After all, court decisions are based on the legal system.

    Now you come up with this phony legacy fund that seemed to develop around the same time Nolan Harrison 111 was hired by the NFLPA. The first to touch the money wins (big fees) so Nolan Harrison 111 keep your hands off this money and be happy with your current $132,000 annual salary from the NFLPA along with your expense account and Super Bowl tickets.

    The real issues facing retired players has always been:
    1)Pensions: (match MLB baseball)
    2)Disability: (must be accessable and does NOT viollate ERISA law and is unique to the business of football. Football is hazardous to your health (just like smoking cigarettes).
    3)Medical after football for life: why should a $9,500,000,000 industry that will exceed $20,000,000,000 to $25,000,000,000 annually in a few years ask Social Security and Medicare to pay the medical bills for the GREEDY NFL? This type of faulty reasoning is why Medicare and Social Security are both going broke.

    What is your plan Mr. Smith? Retired players know there is no plan. The only way for retired players to receive justice is:
    1)Class Action Law suits
    2)Court of public opinion
    3) Congress

    A US Department of labor audit of the NFLPA would expose the fraud that is pervasive throughout our counterfeit union.

    Dave & Heidi Pear

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick