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Jeff Nixon
August 24

Wooden on NFL Settlement: “Peace of mind for the next 65 years”

Shawn Wooden (second from left) and our legal team


“Friends told me that you’re going to put yourself out there — you’re not going to appease 100 percent of the people at the end of the day. But I felt strongly that I was a good representative for the class I was representing and that I could help. It’s always, always about helping my fellow teammates. I call them my brothers.” - Shawn Wooden, Class Rep in the NFL Concussion Litigation and Settlement

As one of the lead plaintiff’s in the NFL Concussion Lawsuit, Shawn Wooden has had to listen to the complaints of former players that are not happy with the settlement and in some cases have decided to appeal. Here is a link to a NY Times article about Shawn:  An Ex-Player at the center of the NFL Concussion Settlement dispute.  

Like a lot of former players, Shawn knows that he probably won’t be getting an award from the settlement anytime soon. At the same time, he knows that there is a good chance he could develop dementia sometime in the future. Remember, we are much more likely than the general population to develop dementia, ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Shawn looks at the Concussion Settlement as a type of insurance policy that will be there for the next 65 years for all former players that did not opt out. But he’s concerned – like many of us are - that that the appeals will drag on and that even if the appeals court judges reject these and other appeals, the objectors could appeal further, perhaps asking for a review by the entire court. “No one wants to wait another six months, another year,” he said. “We’ve come this far; let’s take it that extra yard to get over the goal line.”

In addition to the monetary awards, the sooner the Settlement is approved, the sooner we can start getting baseline cognitive assessments, medical monitoring, treatment and prescription drugs for the guys that don’t quite meet the level of cognitive impairment that would qualify for an award right now.

In a previous article, I mentioned that there is new research showing that a specific drug can be helpful in delaying dementia and Alzheimer’s disease - if the symptoms are detected early enough. That’s another reason why this Settlement is so important. Many players cannot afford the cost of getting assessed and diagnosed, but under the agreement the NFL will cover all of the costs – and the sooner dementia is detected, the better chance there is of slowing it down.

No matter what happens with the appeals, there is one thing that all former players can be proud of knowing - we took on the NFL and forced them to do something they never would have done on their own. In doing so, we made the game safer for current and future generations of NFL players! I hope the NFL and NFLPA remember that when they negotiate future collective bargaining agreements.

Even though we will never take all the injuries out of the game, our advocacy and relentless pursuit of justice have forced both the NFL and the NFLPA to change the way they do business.

New rules have been instituted to prevent injuries; hitting in practice has been reduced; certain pads are now mandatory; dispensing of certain drugs are now under closer scrutiny and concussion protocols have been established.

The NFL is now pouring millions of dollars into researching new technologies that will make equipment better, detect brain injuries better, make fields safer, improve the medical management of concussions and many other initiatives that will make the game safer. You can check out all the new and innovative things they are doing under the Head and Health Challenge. 

This doesn’t absolve the NFL for what they did, or didn’t do, back when we played…….but it’s a start.

I don’t think any of this would be happening now if it were not for the strong voices and courage of former players.

Give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. 

3 comments
August 21

Dallas Cowboy Mike Gaetcher passes away at 75 - had Alzheimer's Disease

Another one of our alumni brothers has passed away before seeing the final passage of the NFL Concussion Settlement. 

Here is a link to good article about his life: Mike Gaechter, key defensive back of ’60s Dallas Cowboys’ rare feat, dies at 75 

Excerpt from the article: "He was a very good athlete,” said Gaechter’s former teammate and friend, Dave Manders. “He was a real tough, hard-nosed player. He never minded putting his head in there.”

A lot of former players were taught to put their heads in their....... and unfortunately, that is one of the big reasons why we are seeing so many of the older generation of players being diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's.

Mike did not file a concussion lawsuit - but the good news is his family is still covered under the terms of the agreement - if and when it receives final approval.  

Say a prayer for his family and friends.

   


3 comments
August 20

Former NFL players have a "vested interest"

I've written a lot of articles over the past 10 years and as you know, I haven't always had the highest opinion of the NFL owners or the NFLPA. Much of what I've said does not always convey how I feel about the game itself. For the record, I'm a huge fan of the NFL. I love the game and I appreciate the opportunity I had to be a member of the relatively small fraternity of men that made it to the highest level of football. We are all alumni brothers.

I'm am honored to be a part of the .03% that made it to the NFL. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything in the world. The NFL has opened doors for me and thousands of other active and retired players. Nonetheless, I totally understand that some players regret that they ever set foot on a field. If I had numerous knee replacements, dementia, excruciating back pain and other injuries that continued to plague me long after my days in the NFL, I too might think differently about the game.         

As a blogger and an advocate for retired players, I write my opinions about a lot of things that I feel strongly about. In some cases you may not agree with me - and that's ok. Part of my own personal mission is to get as much information out to former players as I possibly can.  I know that some of you get a little overwhelmed with the barrage of emails you get from me, but it only takes a second to hit the delete button if there is a topic you're not really interested in reading. 

I have always tried to back up everything I've said with facts, statistics and anecdotal information, but in the final analysis, some of what I write is just my opinion. You decide what is valuable to you and your family and the rest can go in the round filing cabinet - the trash can.

That brings me to today's "informational" offering. 

As we all know, the NFL is a master at promoting itself...... and many active and retired p[layers have been right there beside them in marketing the game to the public as "ambassadors." Most of the time we don't get paid a nickle for doing this kind of work, and like I said before that's ok - just as long as they continue to reward us through pension increases. 

Here's a link to the top 10 active player ambassadorsThe NFL's 10 Best Brand Ambassadors,  and here are some links to former players that are getting paid to be ambassadors: Heads Up Football Ambassadors and Player Engagement NFL Ambassadors, There's even a Hall of Fame Ambassador program and I should note that many NFL teams have hired specific players to be Team Ambassadors. 

Heck the owners valued our promotional abilities so much, they even used our images to market the game - without our permission. We settled that issue and it only cost them $50 million.  

I should point out that while most active players are fine young men of character, some of them have not been the best role models for our youth. I think there are some former players that would make excellent mentors for these "troubled" players as some have suggested. They can learn from the mistakes we made - and yes, we made many during our tenure.   

The fact is, we have a huge stake in seeing that the game continues to grow and that the NFL Owners and the NFL Commissioner reach their goal of increasing revenues from 9 billion to 27 billion by the year 2027. The truth is, this may be the only way we will continue to see our pensions grow. Let's just say we have a "vested interest". In my opinion, the NFL should extend that vested interest to all former players. There are a ton of players that are involved in local NFL Alumni and NFLPA Chapters that receive no pension - but continue to help in building the image of the NFL. That has to change. If the Major League baseball owners can do it........ then why can't the NFL owners?   

We can't talk about the bad, without also acknowledging the good the NFL is doing (mostly because of former player advocacy and lawsuits). Per the 2011 CBA, the NFL will be spending 60 million on key research projects to make the game safer and to help identify brain injuries faster and provide more effective treatment and rehabilitation of all injuries.     

If you haven't already seen this, here is a link to a the 2015 NFL Kickoff Information GuideIt's a nice promotional piece that covers just about everything you would want to know about the NFL - and then some.

There's some pretty interesting stuff in the Guide that I wasn't even remotely aware of so, I guess we can all learn a little more about the greatest show on earth! 

Here are some of the topics in the Guide that I pulled from the index.

PATRIOTS & STEELERS KICK OFF SEASON
KICKOFF WEEKEND SCHEDULE
KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL TEAMS
RECORDS OF NFL HEAD COACHES ON KICKOFF WEEKEND
SUPER BOWL IS ON THE FIFTY
NFL PROMOTES HEALTH & SAFETY IN SPORTS
NFL’S COMMITMENT TO HEALTH & SAFETY OF ALL ATHLETES
NFL’S COMMITMENT TO ADVANCING THE GAME
MYTH VS. FACT: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
NFL & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: A COMMITMENT BEYOND THE PLAYING FIELD
NFL STADIUMS ON GAME DAY – AN EXPERIENCE UNLIKE ANY OTHER
NEW NFL RULES FOR 2015
NFL TO EXPERIMENT WITH 8TH OFFICIAL
UMPIRES TO LINE UP IN OFFENSIVE BACKFIELD MORE OFTEN
2015 SCHEDULE OF FINES
NFL RULES – A CONSTANT EVOLUTION
2015 KICKOFF WEEKEND NOTES
NFL RATCHETS UP THE EXCITEMENT...HOPE IS ALIVE
UNPREDICTABLE NFL
BEST NFL RECORDS, PAST 10 YEARS
DIVISION TITLES? UP FOR GRABS
NFL CALENDAR
SCORING REACHED RECORD HIGHS IN 2014
NFL PLAYER ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS
ROOKIE SYMPOSIUM
SUMMARY OF NFL PROGRAMS & BENEFITS FOR RETIRED PLAYERS
NFL LEGENDS BUSY & SUCCESSFUL IN POST-PLAYING CAREERS
NFL CAREER DEVELOPMENT SYMPOSIUM
NFL PLAY 60
NFL’S CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION: THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOUNDATION...
A CRUCIAL CATCH: NFL SUPPORTS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
LIVE UNITED
COMMUNITY MINDED
PARENTS & MOMS CLINICS
HEADS UP FOOTBALL
USA FOOTBALL ADVANCES PLAYER SAFETY
USA FOOTBALL ADDS TO HEADS UP FOOTBALL PROGRAM
USA FOOTBALL ESTABLISHES YOUTH FOOTBALL GUIDELINES
BILL POLIAN NAMED FOOTBALL ADVISORY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
NFL SALUTES THE MILITARY
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA TO HOST SUPER BOWL 50
FUTURE SUPER BOWLS
HARRIS POLL: PRO FOOTBALL IS AMERICA’S FAVORITE SPORT BY FAR
SURVEY SAYS
NFL CONTINUES INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
NFL & TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR TEAM FOR 10-YEAR PARTNERSHIP
HISPANICS MAKING THEIR MARK (HACIENDO SU MARCA) ON THE NFL
INTERNATIONAL FEEL
2015 NFL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
2015 NFL TRAVEL MILES
BEST KICKOFF WEEKEND PERFORMANCES, 1933-2014
BEST KICKOFF WEEKEND PERFORMANCES, PAST 10 YEARS
THE LAST TIME
ODELL BECKHAM, JR. CATCHES TOP SPOT IN NFL JERSEY SALES
SAME FACES, NEW PLACES
2015 NFL SPECIAL PATCHES & LOGOS
STARTING RECORDS OF ACTIVE NFL QUARTERBACKS
NFL ON TV IN 2015
FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING
SUPER BOWL REMATCHES IN 2015
NFL RADIO 2015
WOMEN’S IMPACT ON NFL KEEPS GROWING
ACCOMPLISHED IN THEIR OWN RIGHT
FOOTBALL REMAINS MOST POPULAR HIGH SCHOOL SPORT
YOUTH FOOTBALL SCORES WITH KIDS
NFL FOUNDATION & LISC ANNOUNCE $2.5 MILLION IN FIELD GRANTS
NFL FOOTBALL OFFICIATING ACADEMY
FOUR COLLEGES TO ADD FOOTBALL PROGRAMS IN 2015
OVERTIME EXCITEMENT
MODIFIED SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME
THE FAMOUS LOVE THE NFL
68 YEARS AGO ON KICKOFF WEEKEND: A RECORD 87 POINTS!
64 YEARS AGO ON KICKOFF WEEKEND: THE DUTCHMAN GOES WILD!
BEST OPENING MONTH RECORDS, PAST 10 YEARS 

3 comments
August 13

Butch Byrd letter regarding the NFL Pension Plan

Butch Byrd

"We, The National Football League Players Association … Pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice, and vision;"  - First sentence in the NFLPA mission statement.

I recently received an email from Butch Byrd, a former Buffalo Bill and a man of wisdom and vision who I'm honored to call my friend.  

Butch was an NFL All Pro five (5) times and was voted the best right cornerback in the Buffalo Bill's fifty year history. He's in the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Boston University Hall of Fame and he received the Ralph Wilson Distinguished Service Award in 1994. He also played on the 1964 and 1965 Buffalo Bills AFL Championship Teams and his name is prominently displayed on the Bills Wall of Fame that circles Ralph Wilson Stadium.   

In addition to being a really good player, I've always found Butch to be one of the strongest voices of reason among the ranks of our Alumni. He served as the NFLPA Former Player Chapter President in New England for many years and has attended numerous NFLPA conventions. 

If you know Butch........you know it takes a lot for him to get riled up. He's very polite and he does his best to see both sides of an issue. If I wanted anyone holding the scales of justice on behalf of former players, he would be right up there near the top. 

Like a lot of former players, Butch is tired of the lip service we are getting from the NFLPA and he wants them to put their money where their mouths are by providing better pensions for the pre-'93 players.

Butch wrote the following email regarding his concerns and sent it to Cornelius Bennett, the 2014 Chairman of the NFLPA Former Player Steering Committee and current Board Member.  He gave me permission to send it to my list of 6,000 former players.  

March 30, 2015

Dear Cornelius,

I want to thank you, Dewey McClain and Cal Snowden for pointing out the need for me to voice my concerns. Over the years I began to believe my thoughts didn't matter. I can remember at one President's meeting in Washington it was stated that "If you're not on board, get out of the way" and maybe I took that to heart.

However, your comments as to my lack of participation during the last two conventions caught me totally by surprise.  Saying that "it wasn't me, or just worrying about my health" was gratifying and I thank you for caring. As promised, I'm emailing you my comments in regard to this and past conventions.

Let me address your concern over my lack of participation during this last convention. I promised myself that I would not cause any uproar or get distressed when I viewed or heard information I disagreed with.

Perhaps, I'm was being somewhat selfish, keeping my concerns to myself, considering how good fortune has smiled on me over the years and not on others, especially those who played the game, during the sixties and seventies.

With that said, First, let me expound on what I agreed with. The NFLPA staff and Board of Directors have done an outstanding job and are truly committed to the post 93 retirees. When I review many of the recently created benefits / programs they all seem to address the well being of the more recently retired former players. I do believe that these recently retired players are deserving of every benefit awarded to them. However, it’s just as obvious to me that while the emphasis has been on the post 93 retired players - the pre 93 retired player's issues and concerns have been placed on the back burner.

I believe older former players have been manipulated and continue to be manipulated to believe that they count, and that something good is going to happen, witnessed by the same theme " One locker, one team" being repeated over and over.

In many ways, it seems that older former players, by design, have been relegated to a second class citizens status or are just being ignored, hoping we'll just fade away.

In reviewing the more recently established programs that were handed out at the convention and listening to the rhetoric in the open sessions, it was clear that the focus of the former player portion of the convention was 95% geared to the more recently retired former players.

Witnessed by the following pension plan:

The pension plan will be increased three (3) times during the current CBA. It will increase in two year implements, see below:

$470 credited season

$560 2012 through 2014

$660 2015 through 2017

$760 2018 through 2020

Meanwhile, thousands of pre-1993 players are still receiving $255 per credited season - plus the additional $108 or $124 per credited season under the Legacy Benefit for a grand total of $363 or $379 per credited season. One Team, One Locker Room?

However, the constant rhetoric of "One locker Room, One Team" or "we stand on your shoulders," spoken primarily to the older retirees, conveying the thought "we owe you", alluding to some sort of positive fix is in the offering, tends to be meaningless and in reality, misleading and wrong.

Why continue to give false hope to older retired players as if something positive was just around the corner? Statements like "we're constantly reviewing programs" doesn’t help.

One hears that some current players are for increasing benefits for older retired players while some current players are against any substantial increases for older retired players... but the NFLPA leadership preaches that "current" players are for older retired players, which is it? It's very confusing and frustrating, one doesn't know what to believe. DeMaurice states he's supportive of older retired players. Where's the Action, we need more than "its under review"

The lack of action brings us back to the Gene Upshaw infamous statement (you didn't hire me, you can't fire me!) Maybe that's the problem.

Many of the "older" former players are past that stage in life where "programs" are important - but age should not disqualify retirees as viable candidates for major benefit improvements.

It seems to many of the older retirees, just ask us, that age as become the criteria used to determine who gets enhancements and who doesn't regarding future benefits. I have been told, as some sort of justification, that other unions don't go back and adjust former employees benefits so we should feel more appreciative getting what we get. We should be more appreciative because the NFLPA doesn't have to reach back.

When DeMaurice Smith first came on board he talked about one locker room, one team, and that we were all in this together. I will admit I drank the "cool aid" I believed what he was selling. At that time I was President of the New England chapter. I tried my hardest to convince former older retired players that we should give the man a chance. Well, despite all his rhetoric, we felt and continue to feel let down.

Two years ago at Marcos Island, at the President's meeting, when responding to a question regarding older retirees, one of the leaders of the NFLPA staff stated, "it’s too late for them" - them being the older retired players. Is this a reflection of the attitude in Washington?

None of the other leaders who sat around the table said anything to correct that message. So maybe this was, or is, the prevailing thought regarding older retirees.

All one has to do is to review some of the newly created programs. The Trust is geared toward the more recently retired players. The program is great for those who are more recently retired, but for older retirees the program holds no substance.

Another example, in reviewing the 12 step NFLPA Benefit Roadmap, I'm wondering how steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, relate to older retirees.

There were several questions, in the general session, in regards to enhancement of pension benefits for older retired players. The answer to all of the comments, from both DeMaurice and Nolan, was "we continue to review the process".

Former players that are past 60 years of age can't continue to wait for reviews but I guess Washington knows that. The "one locker room, one team" mantra, which was again voiced by DeMaurice, doesn't hold water if it doesn't address the needs of ALL former players. Creating programs for one segment of retired players and ignoring the other doesn't work ...and I'm not sure if the NFLPA leadership really cares. All the rhetoric in the world, no matter how many time you repeat it, doesn't work if it doesn't meet the needs of all in the community of retired players.

I know the NFLPA leadership will point to the Legacy Benefit as a major benefit for older players and I would agree. I and others retirees appreciate the gift. But that was some years ago and falls way short of what the pre-93 retirees need.

The other caveat is "the NFL doesn't have enough money....please!

Remember one Locker Room, One team....but maybe not!

One other caveat and its important. I believe, as many other retired players believe, that any retired player who sign a contract, should get a pension equal to the corresponding years played, one year or ten. That's the "right" thing to do!

Butch Byrd

Buffalo Bills

1964 to 1971

7 comments
August 10

NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford dies at age 84

It was sad to hear the news today about the passing of one the great Legends of Pro Football - Frank Gifford.

"We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being," his family said in the statement. "We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."

Frank was the MVP of the NFL the year I was born, so I never really knew just how good and versatile he was - playing both offense and defense as a running back, defensive back, wide receiver and special teams player in his career. He went to the Pro Bowl at three different positions. Gifford participated in five NFL Championship games and eight Pro Bowls, and won the league's most valuable player award in 1956, the same season he won his only NFL Championship.

Sometimes the true measure of a man is not in the highlights of his career, but how how well he can come back after getting knocked down. Frank was involved in the receiving end of a vicious tackle made by Chuck Bednarik. Here is a link to the story and the video of the play: The Hit

In the article they say “The Hit” or “the Tackle,” as the play came to be known, was a perfect piece of propaganda that the NFL set to ominous orchestral music and used to define itself as it soared in popularity in the 1960s and ’70s: tough, snarling, merciless, unspeakably violent. As a piece of history though, it’s the product of faulty memory, fish-tale exaggeration, and lousy reporting. 

Frank Gifford was much more than a great football player. He was the “intelligent” voice of Pro Football players. He totally dispelled the myth of the “Dumb Jock” when he began television sports broadcasting. I will always remember him for the smart work he did as the play-by-play announcer on ABC's Monday Night Football, joining Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in 1971 and continuing on as a commentator until 1997. 

Frank lived a good life.  He did it all.  He was........

 An All-American from USC in 1952:

An NFL Player: 

An Actor:  Appeared in “The All-American” alongside actor Tony Curtis and in "Up Periscope" with James Garner. 

Frank Gifford, foreground, plays Ensign Cy Mount, shown here injured, in the movie "Up Periscope"

A Writer: 

A Hall of Famer: 

An Endorser: (Damn, he was good looking): 

A Broadcaster: Won an Emmy in 1977 for Outstanding Sports Personality and inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2012

The Guy that Got the Girl:  The one that everyone loved. (Kathy Lee)

In my book, he was a Superhero - a caped crusader

Say a prayer for the family!

Here is a link to a good article about Frank Gifford posted on NBC News.com:  NFL Legend Frank Gifford Passes Away at 84

0 comments
August 4

NFL Concussion Settlement awards that some players will never see

"There's a lot of players in really bad shape that are probably not going to see (the money) because of the delays." - Ray Turner, father of Kevin Turner – lead plaintiff in the NFL Concussion lawsuit.

When Mr. Turner made that statement to the Associated Press on June 24, 2015, he wasn't trying to bully or intimidate anyone into dropping their appeals, he was just stating the facts.

Several players suffering with dementia have passed away since that article was written. One of them was a former teammate of mine, Curtis Brown and the other was Mike Pyle who played for the Chicago Bears.

I will always remember Curtis Brown as the “cool” guy that never let anything get him down. If there was something that bothered him he would never let you know. To him, a problem was handled like “water off a duck's back.” Not too many of our Bills Alumni knew that he was suffering from health and memory problems. He liked his privacy and like many former players, he didn't want to be a burden to anyone. 

Curtis Brown looking to make a move on Chicago Defensive Back Gary Fencik in a 1980 game.

Mike Pyle played nine seasons (1961 - 1969) for the Chicago Bears under head coach George Halas. In 1963 he earned a Pro Bowl berth and served as the Bears offensive team captain from 1963 through his retirement. He was named to the Sporting News First Team - All Conference and the UPI Second Team - All NFL in 1963 and to the New York Daily News All NFL team in 1965. He was also president of the NFL Players Association in 1967.

Mike Pyle was celebrated in 2013 for his title with the Chicago Bears. Credit Jim Prisching/Associated Press

Several years after retiring from the NFL, Pyle began to suffer from symptoms of dementia. “I could see the rapid loss of memory,” Mike Ditka told The Chicago Tribune last year. “He was a Yale guy. He was one of the smartest guys I’ve ever been around. He was my roommate for years. All of a sudden, he was a different guy.”

Pyle's condition continued to get worse and eventually his family was forced to put him into a full-time assisted living facility. Pyle went to Silverado, a national chain that has an arrangement with the NFL to treat all former players with at least three years of service who have been diagnosed with dementia.

Loren Shook, the president and CEO of Silverado Senior Living, said ‘‘We have treated about 20 NFL players — we have about a dozen right now. This is under the 88 Plan with the NFL.’’

As most of you already know, the 88 Plan is a brain trauma program named for Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, whose number was 88. All of the former players and family members being treated at Silverado will qualify for an award under the Settlement. They are waiting, but time is not on their side.

Mike Pyle died on July 29, 2015 from a brain hemorrhage and Curtis Brown died the following day from a heart attack. Unfortunately, neither of those two players lived to see the final approval of the NFL Concussion Settlement. I hope that their families will apply for benefits on their behalf when the appeals have been exhausted.

Ken Stabler, who also died earlier this year, won’t see any money either, even though he was the lead plaintiff in one of the concussion lawsuits that included 74 other players. Hopefully, he and other former players received some type of diagnosis before they died.

If former players believe that they have some of the symptoms associated with dementia or another one of the conditions compensated by the settlement, they shouldn’t wait to get diagnosed. Even though the Settlement (when and if it is approved) will pay the cost of testing, assessing and diagnosing players for cognitive impairment, if you die before getting a diagnosis your family will not be eligible for an award. Unfortunately, we don’t know how long the appeals will take, so it is probably in your best interest to get diagnoses as soon as possible. Especially if you believe you might qualify for an award.

The testing is very expensive and if you don’t have insurance, or other means of paying for it, I would suggest that you request funding from the NFL Players “Trust” program, NFLPA Players Assistance Trust Fund, the Players Foundation or the NFL Alumni. I’d be interested in knowing just how many of those organizations would be willing to assist former players with those costs.

I’m not sure what the grounds for appealing the Settlement will be, but that won't make any difference to our alumni brothers that have died and will continue die while waiting for the final approval of the Settlement.

Former players that are appealing the NFL Settlement must submit their full appeal to the Court by August 15, 2015.

I hope some of them will reconsider this legal option. 

5 comments
July 29

It's Time for Mandatory Use of Mouthguards in the NFL

It's still hard for me to believe that the NFL and the NFLPA haven't called for the mandatory use of "specialized" mouthguards.  

On July 22, 2010 - exactly five years ago to the day - I wrote an article on this issueOn July 31, 2012 I wrote another article about this issue that was posted on Yahoo Sports and the National Football Post websites. On June 18, 2014 I wrote about this issue again and posted it on this website at this link: The NFL and NFL Players Association need to mandate the use of Mouth Guards. 

Five years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was quoted as saying, “It’s not necessarily proven, but clearly I think you’d be safer with a mouth guard in your mouth.”  If that's true, then why does the NFL continue to stand on the sidelines and do nothing? And why does the NFL Players Association - that is charged with protecting the safety of its members - continue to sit on the bench?  Instead of being leaders on this issue, the NFL and NFLPA continue to ignore the fact that this one small piece of equipment could make the game safer for players.

It's sad to say, but the NFL continues to say it anyway -  there is no "definitive" medical link between mouth guards and concussion prevention - even even though several studies and anecdotal evidence have strongly suggested that there is a link.  We also heard them say that there is no definitive link between concussions and dementia, but if that's true, why are they agreeing to pay a billion dollars to former players that have developed cognitive impairments? We all know the answer to that question.        

I thought the NFL was supposed to be a leader and a role model on these football player safety issues, but in this case it's Pee Wee, Pop Warner, High School and College football that have taken the lead and have made the mouthguard a mandatory piece of equipment. The NCAA has had this equipment rule in effect for over 40 years! 

So, why doesn't the NFL at least err on the side of caution and just unilaterally mandate the use of mouthguards, just like they did with hip, knee and thigh pads? Are they are concerned that it would be interpreted as an admission of guilt, and as such, open them up to lawsuits for not making it mandatory much sooner?

Unfortunately, the longer the NFL owners wait, the greater the chance that this mouthgaurd issue will come back to bite them on the ass and take a big chunk out of their collective wallets. The NFLPA will be just as responsible because they too have turned a blind eye. 

Do you remember what Gene Upshaw said about concussions in the NFL, even though the research and evidence was piled higher than player's bodies on a goal line stand? “I think we’re just a reflection of society, I don’t want to take that next leap to say, you know, football caused dementia. I just don’t believe that.”

It took some time, but Gene Upshaw finally became a "believer" and now they talk about his lasting legacy being concussion research

DeMaurice Smith still has an opportunity to build his legacy and beat the league to the punch on this issue, but he has too many players that don't like the way a mouthguard feels in their mouth and they don't want Smith to be their mouthpiece on this safety issue. Hey, I didn't like the way that pads and helmets felt, but I clearly thought I'd be safer with them on my body and head. Sometimes we have to protect people from themselves. That's why we have seat belt laws all over the country.

I'm not saying the NFL and NFLPA aren't doing some good things to address the concussion issue. ln March 2013, the NFL launched the Head Health Challenge - a four-year, $60 million collaboration between GE and the NFL to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury. They gave 16 grants - at $300,000 apiece - to companies in the first round. The NFL, Under Armour and GE also launched a second challenge, to look for new innovations and materials that can protect the brain from traumatic injury and for new tools for tracking head impacts in real time.  

The NFLPA is giving $100 million to Harvard Medical School to establish a 10-year research initiative aimed at finding solutions to players’ health problems. 

They are both spending millions of dollars on everything but "specialized" mouthpiece technology! 

Here's another article I wrote that discusses not only the need for specialized mouthguards, but the need for using them in conjunction with a uniform neck strength training program throughout the NFL.  Although I mention the Pure Power Mouthguard in the article, I am not endorsing the product. I am only using it as an example of some of the new mouthguard technology that is being used by some NFL teams.  

                                              New Research on Preventing Concussions

Written and posted by Jeff Nixon on August 13, 2013

For the past few years I have been advocating for the mandatory use of specialized mouth guards in the NFL as a way of reducing injury and possibly preventing concussions.

In studying and researching this issue, I am now convinced that new standards in neuromuscular dentistry should receive the same recognition given to new developments in helmet technology. Any NFL mouth guard mandate being considered should also focus on jaw alignment as it relates to neck strength and upper body muscle asymmetry. These new mouth guard technologies, just as with helmet grading, clearly set the gold standard and should be an essential part of any neck strength initiative, regardless of their effect on concussion.

There is new validated scientific research that shows a well-developed neck likely defuses the potentially damaging forces sometimes generated when a player is hit in the head. Check out this article in Time Magazine: Neck Strength Predicts Concussion Risk

A simple battery of strength tests, now available to team trainers and physicians, can determine if one side of the neck or shoulder may stronger than the other. If they are not symmetrical, it may be a symptom of pinched neuro-pathways due to a misalignment of the Temporal Mandible Joint, commonly known as temporal mandibular joint dysfunction or TMD.

Specialized, neuromuscular mouth guards are engineered to medical grade standard. They are made to open neuro-pathways in correcting each individual’s physiological deficiencies. This approach has shown in research to help in reducing micro trauma resulting in nausea, dings, dizziness, etc., in athletes who are post orthodontic or diagnosed with TMD. More research on concussion is needed in this area and its relation to CTE, but we do know there effect on upper body strength, balance and posture.

This new research has been reviewed by an NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee member who believes there may be a reasonable link. Nonetheless, the NFL isn’t convinced enough to implement a universal mandatory neck training protocol for all 32 teams – or set any standard for the use of any specific mouth guard. Players who have TMD may be at risk without any way of knowing.

The Committee said that every team’s strength and conditioning program emphasizes “neck muscles in one form or another”, but those weight programs lack any standard of care and vary from one team to another – a consistent problem with many NFL policies that pass the buck to the franchises.

The same is true for mouth guards. The common “boil and bite guards” most players use, randomly position the end of the jawbone dangerously close – just millimetres from where Dr. Cantu and military researchers have pinpointed the origins of CTE. That could change with the introduction of the Pure Power Mouth Guard developed by Dr. Anil Makkar and used by numerous professional athletes. Here is a link to their website Bite Advantage.

The Pure Power Mouthguard employs a protocol to determine musculature asymmetry and a procedure to place the jaw in the best position for each individual – down to the millimeter.

As opposed to standard mouth guards that are flat-bottomed and mold to the upper teeth, these neuromuscular guards contain both upper and lower tooth indentations and slightly reposition the bite so that the jaw muscles and joints are stabilized, reducing stress on postural and upper body musculature.

Check out this video clip from Monday Night Football where John Gruden, Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico discuss this new mouth guard technology that most of the New Orleans Saints players are using.

The NFL Commissioner has already gone on record saying “I clearly think you would be safer with a mouth guard in your mouth.” 

Sportswriter Mike Florio recently discussed how mandatory leg pads in the NFL could also be a gateway for mandatory mouth-guards in concussion prevention. During Florio’s radio talk show, Tony Dungy also supported the mandatory use of mouth guards.

All athletes should consider the new neck strength research and the Pure Power Mouth Guard technology not only for injury prevention, but performance enhancement.

Ravens strength coach Bob Rogucki recently said, “We probably put more emphasis on the neck because of the concussion aspect that now is part of our daily life.” He also said “It’s important that they can walk off the field without their head being strapped down to a [stretcher].”

I think we can all agree with that last statement.

Send the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell and the NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith a quick email letting them know that it’s time to protect players by mandating the use of neuromuscular mouth guards and the establishment of a league-wide uniform protocol for neck and shoulder strength symmetry.

roger.goodell@nfl.com

demaurice.smith@nflplayers.com

As former players, we have always been at the forefront of helping active players by advocating for changes in their equipment, game rules, practice conditions and the NFL policies that they play under. Without our voices added to the mix, it is unlikely that many of the recent changes would have made by the NFL or NFLPA.

Sincerely,

Jeff Nixon 

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July 28

What's Happening: Former NFL Player News

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

I wish I had the time to blog about all the different articles I've read over the past few months, but here are links to some of the ones that caught my attention. Just click on the title of any article that may interest you. Please feel free to post your comments and opinions at the bottom of the page.

New NFL Painkiller Lawsuit

Namath on concussions: “Would never have played if I knew about effects”

Hall of Fame won't allow Junior Seau's family to speak at induction 

Why did the NFL voluntarily give up its tax exempt status? 

OJ Simpson 20 years later

Stanford research suggests football helmet tests may not account for concussion-prone actions 

Jerome Bettis Says He Sold Drugs and Shot at People While Growing Up in Detroit

Jerry Rice Removes Shirt to Better Dance with Lingerie-Clad Model (video)

Ex-NFL player catches home burglar on video, burglar is ex-teammate

Commentary: Ex-NFLer-turned-agent says contracts not lone reason players need agents

Charles Haley to 49ers rookies: “Act like the white guys”

Memory and Brain Differences in Former NFL Players Who Lost Consciousness During Concussion

Former NFL players find new life in NASCAR

Former player are involved in a lot of activities that are having a positive impact on their communities. There are three organizations that provide information on a regular basis. Here are links to their most recent newsletters:

NFL Legends Community Newsletter 

NFLPA Former Player Newsletter 

NFL Alumni news 

If you do not get these newsletters sent to your email inbox and would like to receive them, please contact the phone number or email address provided at the website and request to be included on their email list.

Information is power!

                           "I don’t know, has become.....I don’t know yet.” – Bill Gates 



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July 24

Scientists find first drug that appears to slow Alzheimer's disease

There is exciting new research showing that patients with "mild" Alzheimer's had a 34 percent delay in symptoms when taking the drug Solanezumab. 

These results were released yesterday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, D.C.

“This is the first evidence of something genuinely modifying the disease process,” said Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “It’s a breakthrough in my mind. The history of medicine suggests that once you get through that door you can explore further therapeutic opportunities much more aggressively. It makes us less helpless.”

If these findings are correct, it will become even more critical for doctors and neurologists to detect dementia & Alzheimer's disease as early as possible.

Dr. Doug Brown, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Today’s findings strongly suggest that targeting people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease with these antibody treatments is the best way to slow or stop Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs are able to reduce the sticky plaques of amyloid that build up in the brain, and now we have seen the first hints that doing this early enough may slow disease progression.”

Some of the clinical trials on this drug are being conducted right here in the Western New York area at Dent Neurological. Dr. Rainka is overseeing the study and participants are still needed. This prevention trial is called the A4 study. If you are interested in learning more about it, please contact Caroline Kumm by e-mail at ckumm@dentinstitute.com or phone 716-558-3492.

If further trial results are positive, it will still be several years before the drug becomes available. Another trial is due to report in 2016 and then the drug will need to go through regulatory approval. 

I hope they do everything they can to make sure the drug is safe and effective and then, if possible, speed up the process for making it available to former NFL players and all people that have been diagnosed with mild dementia and early onset of Alzheimer's disease.  The clock is ticking......... and time is not on their side.    

Here is a link to the article discussing the new findings: Lilly Alzheimer's Drug Seems to Slow Diseases Progress 

 

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July 17

Did you Appeal the NFL Concussion Settlement?

It has recently come to my attention that there were a couple of former NFL players that did not give their authorization for an attorney to file an appeal of the NFL Concussion Settlement on their behalf.

Please review the list (below) to see if your name was included in one of the 12 appeals that were filed. If you did not give authorization to be included in an appeal, you can write to the court and ask that your name be removed.

If you write to the court, please indicate your name and the court file number which I have included at the end of each list of appellants.

The address for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is: James A. Byrne United States Courthouse, 601 Market St # 21400, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

If you have any questions, or concerns please feel free to contact me at jeffnixon@aol.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

                  Former Players Filing an Appeal of the NFL Concussion Settlement

Craig Heimburger; Dawn Heimburger, Appellants in 15-2206

Cleo Miller; Judson Flint; Elmer Underwood; Vincent Clark, Sr.; Ken Jones; Fred Smerlas; Jim Rourke; Lou Piccone; James David Wilkins, II; Robert Jackson, Appellants in 15-2217

Curtis L. Anderson, Appellant in 15-2230

Darren R. Carrington, Appellant in 15-2234

Raymond Armstrong; Nathaniel Newton, Jr.; Larry Brown; Kenneth Davis; Michael McGruder; Clifton L. Odom, George Teague; Drew Coleman; Dennis DeVaughn; Alvin Harper; Ernest Jones; Michael Kiselak; Jeremy Loyd; Gary Wayne Lewis; Lorenzo Lynch; Hurles Scales, Jr.; Gregory Evans; David Mims; Evan Ogelsby; Phillip E. Epps; Charles L. Haley, Sr.; Kevin Rey Smith; Darryl Gerard Lewis; Curtis Bernard Wilson; Kelvin Mack Edwards, Sr.; Dwayne Levels; Solomon Page; Tim McKyer; Larry Barnes; James Garth Jax; William B. Duff; Mary Hughes; Barbara Scheer, Appellants in 15-2272

Liyongo Patrise Alexander; Charlie Anderson; Charles E. Arbuckle; Cassandra Bailey, as Representative of the Estate of Johnny Bailey; Ben Bronson; Curtis Ceaser, Jr.; Larry Centers; Darrell Colbert; Harry Colon; Christopher Crooms; Jerry W. Davis; Tim Denton; Michael Dumas; Corris Ervin; Doak Field; Baldwin Malcolm Frank; Derrick Frazier; Murray E. Garrett; Clyde P. Glosson; Roderick W. Harris; Wilmer K. Hicks, Jr.; Patrick Jackson; Gary Jones; Ryan McCoy; Jerry James Moses, Jr.; Anthony E. Newsom; Rance Olison; John Owens; Robert Pollard; Derrick Pope; Glenell Sanders; Thomas Sanders; Dwight A. Scales; Todd Scott; Frankie Smith; Jermaine Smith, Tyrone Smith; James A. Young, Sr.,Appellants in 15-2273

Scott Gilchrist, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist, Appellant in 15-2290

Jimmie H. Jones; Ricky Ray; Jesse Solomon, Appellants in 15-2291

Andrew Stewart, Appellant in 15-2292

Willie T. Taylor, Appellant in 15-2294

Alan Faneca; Roderick "Rock" Cartwright; Jeff Rohrer; Sean Considine, Appellants in 15-2304

James Mayberry, Appellant in 15-2305

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