After further review…..the NFL’s call has been reversed

The fans and the public did not like the call.

They booed and booed, but nothing was going to happen until the “Sponsors” threw the red flag.

It’s a shame that it takes the loss of revenue to get the attention of the NFL and team owners - and to get them to do the right thing. But in the case of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the final decisions that were made were classic examples of how money talks.

In their decision to put Adrian Peterson on the Exempt list, Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said "While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian."

It’s no coincidence that their stunning reversal comes after the Radisson hotel chain suspended its sponsorship with the Vikings. Nike stores pulled Peterson's jerseys from its shelves and Castrol Motor Oil, Special Olympics Minnesota and Mylan Inc. all severed ties with Peterson.

Anheuser-Busch issued a strongly worded statement saying they were disappointed in the way the NFL was dealing with the Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's assault of his girl friend (now wife) and Peterson's arrest for child abuse.

Here’s a football analogy for what is currently happening to the NFL: Just like O.J. Simpson was the “Juice” and his offensive line was the “Electric Company” – The NFL is the juice and their sponsors are the electric company. If you screw up, the electric company will turn off your power - and without that, you are living in a cold, dark place. The NFL owners like where they are living right now and they don’t want to give up their lifestyles just yet.

So what really made the NFL and team owners have a change of heart?

"After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian," the Wilfs said. "We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization.”

I think their sponsors made them put some corrective lenses in their glasses to help them focus.

It’s sad to think that money is the motivator behind almost everything the NFL does. Their reversal of decisions on player punishments has more to do with their image and their bottom line, than it has to do with making the right decisions.

The NFL’s sponsors used their money as leverage - and it was the right thing to do.

NFL players have a name for the person that comes to take away your money and end your pro football career. He’s called the “Turk” and he wields a mighty sharp axe. He has only one purpose – and it’s not to give you a clean shave. When he comes to your room at 6:00 am and says that the head coach wants to see you and tells you to bring your playbook - the writing is on the wall. 

The NFL saw the writing and did not like what they read.

Now they’re backpedaling faster than Richard Sherman in their attempt to hold off the Turk.

   

 

Judges dismiss the "seven" that want to speak for all former NFL players

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled "NFL Concussion Settlement: 7 former NFL players that want to speak for all of us."

Those seven players - Sean Morey, Alan Faneca, Ben Hamilton, Robert Royal, Rock Cartwright, Jeff Rohrer, and Sean Considine - had their day in court this past Wednesday and three judges from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals quickly dismissed their request to intervene in the Settlement process. The Judges said that Judge Anita Brody had not yet given final approval to the deal and that objectors still had time to plead their case at a fairness hearing scheduled for Nov. 19, 2014.

Steven Molo, the attorney for the seven players, told the judges that the settlement doesn’t compensate enough players and that they need to remedy this defect because appealing the settlement after it is made final months from now will lead to even further delays in getting money to players in need.

Mr. Molo thinks Judge Brody will approve the Settlement………and I do too. Why? Because she’s done everything in her power to make sure the Settlement is fair to former players.

That doesn't seem to matter to Mr. Molo and the seven players he represents. They seem to be hell bent on filing an appeal and delaying benefits and compensation to the guys that need it most. But, like I said in my article, where were these guys and their lawyer when other former players were filing lawsuits against the NFL? 

None of the seven filed a lawsuit against the NFL.

In fact, over 15,000 former players did not file, but now Mr. Molo and the seven would like all former players to be compensated for their depression, anger issues, sleep disorders, headaches and other “symptoms” of CTE - symptoms that have been associated with numerous other disorders and diseases (not to mention hereditary and environmental factors). Our attorney’s would have had serious problems proving these symptoms were from CTE (since it can’t be diagnosed in living persons) and that the symptoms were solely caused by the playing in the NFL.

Sure, we would all like to get money from the Settlement right now, but like a lot of former players that took the time and effort to file lawsuits, I have a hard time listening to guys that didn't go on the record from the start – and now want to tell the rest of us it’s a bad deal.

If Mr. Molo and the seven players he represents don’t like the Settlement, then they have a perfect remedy………..“OPT OUT”…… and go back to court against the NFL.

It’s time for them to stop their selfish and misguided appeals and attempts to delay and deny former players the compensation they need now - and for those that will need it in the future.

Mr. Molo said “…appealing the settlement after it is made final months from now will lead to even further delays in getting money to players in need.”  Sounds like a threat to me. But he’s right. It will delay getting money to players in need. Unfortunately, he will be the one who creates that delay if he, or any other lawyers and players appeal the Settlement after it receives final approval.

In my opinion, he's just looking to make money from appealing the Settlement and he doesn't really care about the players in need. Why?  Because he doesn't represent any of the former players that filed lawsuits.

As it stands right now, Mr. Molo will get nothing from the Settlement because he didn't retain any former players, or file any lawsuits on their behalf.

The only way Mr. Molo can make any money is by filing appeals on behalf of former players, or as I recommended, by having his seven clients opt out of the Settlement.

If they opt out, they reserve the right to sue the NFL.  Mr. Molo can then file lawsuits on their behalf and some day in the distant future - if they are lucky enough to win a case against the NFL and get compensated - he can collect his fee.

Former players that are duped into filing an appeal of this settlement will be guilty of delaying and denying the benefits and compensation to the guys that need it now - not after their dead. History will not smile favorably on the players that run this “appeals” route.

I took the offense in helping thousands of former players file lawsuits against the NFL. Now I’m taking the defense in helping thousands of former players get the benefits they deserve under this Settlement over the next 65 years.

If you would like to comment on this issue, please go to the open forum and post your thoughts at the following website: http://www.playerinjury.com/discussion/

Check out what some of your teammates have already said.            

Buffalo Bills ended longest losing streak in NFL history vs. Miami

On September 7, 1980 – almost 34 years ago to the day - we finally beat the Miami Dolphins and snapped the longest losing streak (team vs team) in NFL history. Check out my YouTube video and the news clip from SB Nation below the video:

Fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts, not to celebrate a championship, but a 1-0 record. Ralph Wilson was overjoyed in the aftermath as well. "It’s the biggest win this club’s ever had," he commented. "Bigger than the AFL championships. I’ll be happy to buy new goal posts." 

Rookie running back Joe Cribbs rushed for 60 yards and the winning touchdown, and also had 9 catches for 71 yards. Fullback Roosevelt Leaks had the Bills’ other trip to paydirt, a four-yard TD reception from QB Joe Ferguson, who had lost to the Dolphins 14 straight times to start his career. 

Second-year pro Jeff Nixon had three interceptions."It was so nice to see us finally beat them," Nixon says in Buffalo Bills: The Complete Illustrated History by Sal Maiorana, where an entire page is devoted to the streak and the game that ended it. "Not so much for me, but for the older veteran guys that had played for ten years and had lost every single game."

I hope the Bills can extend their 1-0 record to 2-0 with a win over Miami this Sunday. If they do, the fans won't be able to tear down the goal posts, because after the fans did that in the Bills vs. Dolphins game in 1980, the NFL instituted a security plan in all NFL Stadiums where mounted police and extra security were brought down to the field to prevent this from ever happening again. 

The NFL has assets to protect.    

    

Fred Willis "Fact Check" on NFL Concussion Settlement

Over the past few months, I've been receiving emails from former NFL Player, Fred Willis. His emails have been making the rounds among former NFL players. Fred Willis is the CEO of a company called HP Neurologic. He has been peddling his new treatments for players with CTE, even though the scientific community has never agreed that there is a valid test for diagnosing CTE in living persons. Nonetheless he's been trying to convince people that he has the best treatment for CTE and other cognitive impairments.  

He's also a harsh critic of the NFL Concussion Settlement. In his email, he made a list of what he called "Facts" related to the NFL Concussion Settlement. Of course, when one actually reads them it's clear that they are little more than a biased tirade against the settlement.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

Here are the facts that Mr. Willis lists in his email to former players under what he called "Burden of Proof".  I have taken the liberty of providing my opinion under each of his so called "facts."

WILLIS "FACT": The burden of proof is on the NFL retired players to prove debilitating brain injury.

MY OPINION:  Of course the burden is on us to prove our debilitating brain injuries. Does Mr. Willis really think that the NFL should prove our case for us?  If we had continued our litigation against the NFL (and for players that opt out of the Settlement), that is exactly what we would need to prove to a judge and jury. The Settlement makes it easier for former players to prove their injuries because it sets aside 75 million to help us get evaluated and diagnosed by independent neurologists and neuropsychologists. Most former players could never afford to pay for the cost of these medical evaluations which may include MRI's / CT Scans and other costly examinations and tests.  

Additionally, we don't have to prove that our brain injuries were caused by playing in NFL. This was an enormous victory that class counsel won from the NFL during settlement negotiations. If former players had continued this litigation, they would have not only been forced to prove their injuries, but they would need to prove "causation," and convince a jury that their injuries were caused by their time in the NFL. That would be no easy task, especially when you consider that many players spent more time playing football in high school and college than in the NFL. And, thanks to the NFL's shoddy record-keeping, many of us also had few, if any, recorded concussions.

However, thanks to courage of the players who stepped forward to sue the League, no injured player will need to prove causation in order to receive an award under this Settlement.

 _____________________________________________________________________ 

WILLIS "FACT":  It is highly unlikely that any NFL retired football player has not sustained multiple concussions/traumatic brain injuries resulting in some combination of cognitive and emotional problems.

MY OPINION:  So what is Mr. Willis suggesting - that all 20,000 former players should be compensated? It sounds good, but the NFL would never have agreed to that in a Settlement.

Why?

Think about it..........most former players were aware of the lawsuits that were being filed against the NFL, but out of the 20,000 former players that were covered by the Settlement, only around 5,000 actually filed lawsuits claiming that they had some type of cognitive impairment.  There were over 15,000 former players that did not even file a lawsuit.

Why?

Probably because they didn't feel they were having cognitive or emotional problems that were affecting their ability to function.  Also, a relatively small number of them worked for the NFL, or one of the Networks, or some other company that does business with the NFL, so they probably felt that a lawsuit might hurt their relationship. Guys like Dan Marino might fall into this category.   

I should also note that many of the former players that filed lawsuits were not as concerned about their current cognitive problems as they were about the future cognitive problems they might develop. Remember, research has shown that former players are more likely than the general population to develop cognitive impairments later in life.  

Many of the former players that filed lawsuits, including myself, wanted to make sure that a monitoring and evaluation system was put in place so that we could get baseline examinations. Then if we started to develop problems down the road, we could still be compensated.  The Settlement provides this for the next 65 years. For many former players, this is like an insurance policy. 

 __________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT": The settlement agreement is clear that traumatic brain injury even if resulting in drastic permanent deficits in cognition does not necessarily entitle a player to a monetary award.

MY OPINION:  Mr. Willis doesn't tell us what he considers to be "drastic permanent deficits" but the Settlement Agreementis perfectly clear that you will be compensated – especially for drastic permanent impairments like Level 2 Neurocognitive Impairment (i.e., moderate Dementia) or Level 1.5 Neurocognitive Impairment (i.e., early Dementia), ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.  Former players will also receive free treatment and prescriptions if they have symptoms that do not rise to the level of a compensatory award. ______________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT": The settlement agreement will exclude most class members from any meaningful recovery.

MY OPINION: It's true that most class members will not receive an immediate cash award, but does Mr. Willis really think that the NFL should agree to compensate every single retired player whether they are injured or not?

The fact is, however, that the settlement still benefits every one of us - even those who haven't experienced a single symptom. Every one of us is eligible for a baseline examination, and every one of us benefits from the guarantee that, should we develop dementia, Alzheimer's or another impairment down the road, we will be taken care of.

After all, what is he suggesting - that former players opt out and go back to suing the NFL?  Even if players get past the legal arguments and the case goes to trial, what is the jury going to do when they find out these players opted out of an uncapped Settlement because it didn't provide enough money?  The public has not been sympathetic to players that have filed suit. All you have to do is look at the comments that are posted under articles related to this issue. These are same people that will be sitting in judgment of former players. Not a comforting thought. __________________________________________________________________________ 

WILLIS "FACT":  Psychological/Psychiatric consequences of brain injury do not qualify for a monetary award.

MY OPINION: It is true that not everyone experiencing a symptom will be compensated under this deal. But that was an impossible goal – the NFL was simply not going to agree to compensate every single former player experiencing depression, headaches or other symptoms that do not involve Cognitive Impairment. Furthermore, it was not the purpose of this lawsuit to win compensation for everybody. The point of this lawsuit was to get help for the guys who really need it today, provide the rest of us with state-of-the-art medical examinations and, finally, ensure that all of us will be protected if we begin to lose our cognitive faculties in the future.

____________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT":  Most players will receive nothing or next to nothing at all, and many will have to endure a likely difficult and foreseeably frustrating process for the little that they receive.

MY OPINION: What kind of process would Mr. Willis like to see – one where a player just says he's injured and he gets a big bag of money?  I think most former players want a fair system of assessment and evaluation established – and the Settlement will do that.  I don't want to see guys "playing" the system and getting money for nothing, but I do want to see guys getting paid for legitimate cognitive impairments.

The Settlement provides for a very neutral and independent process and most importantly - Continual Court Oversight.  Judge Anita Brody - who has been very sympathetic to former players and in fact was a driving force behind the improved, uncapped deal announced in July – will not let the NFL get away with any obstruction or excessive appeals that thwart a former player's ability to collect an award for a legitimate cognitive impairment.
____________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT": Spousal benefits are almost non-existent and likely too small to fight for.

MY OPINION: Mr. Willis is just plain wrong. The spouses and widows of deceased or incapacitated players who qualify for compensation will be eligible to receive an award on behalf of their husband.

Furthermore, Mr. Willis is clearly not familiar with the wives of former players - and what they are willing to fight for. Women like Sylvia Mackey and Mary Ann Easterling will do whatever is necessary to get what they are rightfully entitled to receive - and former players will stand behind them, just like we did when many of them were excluded from the Legacy Benefit. 

____________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT":  Although player suicides have highlighted the player concussion issue, no psychological/psychiatric condition that leads to suicide, qualifies a player for any monetary award.

MY OPINION: Both parties agreed that death with CTE would only be provided to those former players that committed suicide before the Settlement received preliminary approval.  And for good reason - the parties to the Settlement did not want to provide any incentive for former players to kill themselves in the hopes that their brains would be autopsied and show signs of CTE – thereby making their families eligible for a compensatory award.  How can anyone argue with that decision?

____________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT":  The settlement agreement is clear that traumatic brain injury even if resulting in drastic permanent deficits in cognition does not necessarily entitle a player to a monetary award.

MY OPINION:  In his email, Mr. Willis stated this twice. Maybe he thinks that by saying something over and over again it will somehow make it true...................It doesn't.
____________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT": The class action attorneys are seeking $112.5 Million Dollars for their attorney fees.

MY OPINION:  Wow.......what a revelation - attorneys getting paid to represent their clients!  Mr. Willis conveniently forgets to mention that, while in most class action Settlements the fees come out of the Settlement, but in this case, the NFL agreed to pay those fees outside of the Settlement. He also neglects to mention that the players' compensation fund is fully uncapped, so every class member can rest assured that, should he need it, the money will be there to compensate him.

____________________________________________________________________________

WILLIS "FACT":  In summary, what has been negotiated will be for many, if not most class members a frustrating and disappointing pathway to relatively minimal recoveries at best.

MY OPINION: Tell that to the hundreds of players and their families that will be receiving substantial awards as soon as the Settlement receives final approval. Among others, I'm talking about all of the guys that are currently in the 88 Plan. Even though some former players may not receive anything right away, Mr. Willis does not have a crystal ball to look into the future and see what will happen to us as we get older. I pray to God that I never have to receive one nickel of compensation from the NFL Concussion Settlement, but even so, I like the assurance that there will be something for me – and my family - if I do start to develop serious cognitive impairments.

In closing, I want former players to know that the decision to stay in the Settlement, Object, or Opt Out rests entirely on you and your family's shoulders. You need to know all the "true facts" before you make a decision. Here is the link to the NFL Concussion Settlement website where you can read all of the facts, court documents and frequently asked questions: https://www.nflconcussionsettlement.com/

If someone is urging you to opt out of the Settlement, make sure they are telling you exactly what will happen - after you make that decision.

NFLPA's increase in pensions is a slap to the face of unvested players

Like a lot of former NFL players, I was really surprised by today's news that the NFL Players Association had increased pensions for 1,722 former players that have credited seasons from 1993 to 1996.

This pension increase will affect former players that were not included in the Legacy Benefit that was created in the 2011 CBA.

One of the reasons that former players advocated for pension increases for pre-1993 players was due to the fact that players from 1993 and forward were the beneficiaries of enormous salary increases that came as the result of free agency and other benefits –  most notably, 5 years of free medical benefits after retirement, Second Career Savings Plan, Annual Group Licensing payments and generous increases to existing benefits.

Additionally, these 1,722 players only need 3 years in the NFL to be eligible for a pension, whereas former players before 1993 still need 4 credited seasons to become vested. 

This is a real slap in the face to all the pre-1993 players that only have 3 credited seasons in the NFL and receive absolutely no pension. Not only that, but they are not eligible for the Disability Plan, 88 Plan, the Long Term Care Insurance Plan and other benefits.

As more and more older players continue to die, DeMaurice Smith realizes that his future power is not just vested in active player support, but also with retirees that are part of 50 and younger demographic.

I think it's great that these 1,722 players will receive pension increases - but I'm sad to know that it comes at the expense of former players that have been denied pensions because the playing field is still so lopsided.

As the NFLPA notes in their press release, the $35.4 million for this pension increase will come from the Joint Contribution that was established in the 2011 CBA.

Under the Joint Contribution, the NFLPA will have $22 million annually - plus a 5% annual increase - and can determine what type of retired player benefits, funds or programs we should be receiving. Over the 10 year term of the CBA, this will amount to $242,584,415 million that the NFLPA will control and allocate as it sees fit. I hope our NFLPA Retired Player Chapters have some input into that decision making.

Maybe it's not too late for former players to influence the decision-making process on how the rest of these funds will be utilized. I know that they have used quite a bit of the money on the "Trust" program they established, but maybe they still have some left over.

In my opinion, the NFLPA and NFL should follow the example of Major League Baseball and take a portion of the money they have at their discretion and do something for the unvested former players. At the very least, they should try to level the playing field and give everyone that has three credited seasons a pension or a lump sum payment like baseball did for their pioneer players.

On April 21, 2011, Major League Baseball owners and the MLB Players Association agreed to make payments to former players from the 1947 – 1980 seasons who didn't qualify for the league's pension benefit plan. Prior to 1980, only players with at least four years of service time qualified for a pension. Under the new agreement, former players with one, two or three credited seasons received payments of as much as $10,000 over a two year period.

Back when they made this historic decision, MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner said "These are meaningful payments, and additionally meaningful because of the recognition this confers on this group of players. This was a long time in coming, but it's important to stress that there was no legal obligation for MLB to discuss this issue. But I share [Selig's] view that this is the right thing to do for the right reasons."

And get this! From 1980 and forward, a MLB player with as little as 43 days in the majors is eligible to receive a pension.

If MLB and the MLBPA can find a way to take care of their unvested former players, then why can't the NFL and the NFL Players Association?

As more and more of the younger former players take leadership roles in the NFLPA, it will be harder and harder for the pioneer players (guys 50 – 100 years of age) to receive a fair shake on the vesting requirement and other benefits.

We will need to do everything we can to remind the NFLPA of how the older generation of players fought to make the game safer and more profitable for the new generation of players and why they need to give us more than just a baby's high-chair at the table when its decision making time. 

Here's the NFLPA announcement of the pension increase that was posted on their website:

NFLPA Increases Pensions for 1,722 Former Players

{ Impacts players who vested under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan after 1992, and have Credited Seasons from 1993 through 1996. }

Author: NFLPA Communications Posted: 8/25/2014

NFLPA INCREASES PENSIONS FOR 1,722 FORMER PLAYERS WITH CREDITED SEASONS FROM 1993 TO 1996

The NFLPA announced today an increase in pension benefits for former NFL players who vested under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan after 1992, and have Credited Seasons from 1993 through 1996. These players will generally have their monthly pension benefits for each of those seasons increased to $363 per month, from $265 per month for 1993 – 1994 and $315 per month for 1995 – 1996. In addition, 456 players from among the same 1,722 players will also have their monthly pension amounts for Credited Seasons earned prior to 1993 increased to $363 per month.

The total increase in a player's pension as a result of this "Special Credit" will vary depending on numerous factors, including the payment option a player has selected for his pension benefit. Therefore, the specific details of this latest increase will be sent to each of the players impacted in the near future. The Special Credit is scheduled to take effect starting on September 1, 2014.

This latest pension increase is being funded through the Joint Contribution provision of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL that sets aside money to fund retired player benefits as determined by the NFLPA. At a cost of $35.4 million, this increase is being funded over three years.

This pension increase comes only a few years after the $620 million Legacy Benefit was negotiated by the NFLPA which increased pensions for players who vested prior to 1992. Combined with the Legacy Benefit, more that $655 million has been set aside under the 2011 CBA to fund increases in pensions for players who have left the game.