The devil of the new NFL CBA is in the details for retired players

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NOTE:  This is a reprint of Mr. Hogan’s editorial.

We thank him for his efforts and encourage each reader to sign the petition for the independence of the retired players from the NFLPA.

By John V. Hogan, Esq.

The new CBA contains a provision that on its face appears to be of benefit to some retired NFL players receiving Total and Permanent disability benefits under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan. Article 61, Section 2 (a) (i) provides that a player will be permitted to receive up to $30,000 per year of earned (i.e. “work”) income without affecting his disability benefits. Presumably this was enacted to allow guys to be paid some appearance fees or earnings from card signings and other events without jeopardizing their “total disability” eligibility.

However, I’m sure than many – if not most – retired NFL players who receive T&P disability from the Bell/Rozelle Plan also receive Social Security disability. If so, having earned income up to $30,000 per year would most likely cause a cessation of their SSA benefits. In general, a person receiving Social Security disability benefits may work and earn up to a maximum of $1,000 per month gross ($12,000 per year) before they are deemed to be able to engage in “substantial gainful activity.”

Under Social Security rules, any work activity must be reported so that the Social Security Administration can determine whether the claimant’s condition has improved. If it has – and they have the ability to work – then they are no longer considered disabled.

As $12,000 is significantly less than $30,000, I have no doubt that many players will (being confused or not paying attention) exceed SSA’s earnings limit. At that point, they may be faced with a cessation of their disability benefits, liability for overpayment of Social Security benefits they have received after they have engaged in substantial gainful activity, as well as loss of their medical benefits from Medicare.

Here’s the Trojan Horse: Under Plan Section 5.3(b) a player receiving T&P benefits from the Plan must submit proof annually of his continued receipt of Social Security disability benefits and must immediately report any revocation of those benefits to the Plan. It’s not very difficult to see the scenario that then unfolds – the player is then sent to one of the Plan’s chosen doctors who opines that he is not totally disabled…

I’m glad to know that some limited income will not automatically disqualify a disabled retired NFL player from receiving his T&P benefits but as a true believer in Murphy’s Law – and as an attorney who has had extensive dealing with the Bell/Rozelle Plan – I’m sure that many guys will come to know how the citizens of Troy felt when the Greeks decimated them.

I could go on for hours and would be happy to at some other time. I would also be happy to provide you with any specific citations, evidence, etc., you would care to see.

John Hogan

Disability Attorney

Retired Football Players Advocate

That is what I think.  Tell me what you think.

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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.

He is the host of a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com.
He has also published several novels on

and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .

Saturday's nibblets around the net for 02/15/09.

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Fryingpan Sports

Saturday’s nibblets around the net.

By Bill Smith

BEST COMMENT OF THE WEEK–

Ted Payne posted this:

Well let’s be honest – guys like him are SCARED. They are legitimately scared of bloggers.

I mean each team can have a hometown blogger, bloggers that are dedicated to one team even. How can traditional journalists compete with that? Bloggers might not have the access of these top ESPN guys, but they can watch one team day in and day out, Albom can NOT do that.

Sports reporters are scared that one day, they won’t have a job, because people will turn to their local bloggers.

Ted, you are exactly right. The new media including the Internet bloggers scare them to death. Thanks for the support and I hope you become a regular reader. We will try to post the best comment each week.

Political Correctness run a muck.

Our old pinhead friends at the NCAA rules committee are thinking about making the touchdown celebration a “live ball” penalty rather than a “dead ball” foul. The difference is that a live ball foul is stepped off from the previous spot and takes the score off the board! I don’t have a problem with a penalty if a player throws the ball at an opponent. But we are talking about 19-22 year old kids that love the game they play.

The first thing that the official will say is that the player is calling attention to himself when he celebrates alone. But then when he celebrates with his team mates, the pinhead zebras say that the celebration was premeditated and organized. That isn’t allowed either.

My Advice: Let the kids have fun and forget the live ball foul. While you’re at it, forget the the dead ball penalty as well.

T1

Mike Martz can’t find a job.

Martz complained to Tom E. Curran, of NBCSports.com that he is being kept from getting a new job as O Coordinator by people saying negative things about him. “”People are determined to keep me out of the league. It’s been going on for three years and at this point, I can’t fight it. I just can’t fight it. Three years of people putting it out there that I’m a high-maintenance lunatic.”

My Advice: Mikey, let it go. Maybe it is the quarterbacks that you almost got killed with your 5 receivers in the pattern style offense that are keeping you down. No one trusts you with their franchise QB. Change your offense and maybe you’ll get work.

t2

Bret Favre retired—again.

This time I think we have seen the last of Favre. He was a great player and we respect that. He struggled in the last half of the season with the Jets and is physically done.

My Advice: Bret go back on your plantation and we will see you again in 5 years and hand you the yellow jacket and your bust in the Hall of Fame. But we don’t want to hear about you or see you until then. Frankly, you exhausted us with your “will he stay or will he retire” dance routine over the last few years. Enjoy your retirement because you deserve it. Just leave us alone.

t3

Kurt Warner says he will keep an open mind about where to play next year.

Warner had decided that if he gets a contract he likes he will play next year. He also has told many outlets that he and his family like Arizona. However, he said that he will keep an open mind if the Cardinals don’t come up with a reasonable offer.

My Advice: Kurt, I am not a Viking fan but there you would have a D that is ready to win now and an O line that will give you a lot better protection than you get now. Plus they play 9 games a year inside.

t4

QB JaMarcus Russell has minor surgery on his ankle.

Russell has hinted that his accuracy problems were partially due to his bad ankle that prevented him from pushing off properly. Dah!

My Advice: JR, while you’re sitting down waiting for the ankle to heal, watch some tape. You need to make better decisions. Then go throw a couple of hundred passes a day until you can throw the ball into a coffee can from 25 yards. Your problem is not your ankle, it is your head and your footwork.

t6

Percy Harvin, Florida is not a first round pick in my book.

Harvin is small and fast. But he doesn’t really have a position on the team other than spot 3rd down receiver and special teams player. He can maybe play the slot for a 3 wide team but that is about it. It is hard for a team to be successful drafting a player in the first round that is on the field less than full time. Just ask the Saints with Reggie Bush, or the Cowboys with Felix Jones.

My Advice: Harvin is compared incorrectly to last year sensation tiny DeSean Jackson. The difference is that Jackson was a polished receiver running disciplined routes and had very soft hands. Harvin is an athlete. He has not had enough experience at routes and will take a lot of coaching to even determine if he can be a slot receiver. He is a late 2nd or 3rd round value.

t7

The Falcons want to trade Michael Vick.

The Falcons Owner and CEO Arthur Blank told a news conference that he wanted to trade the rights to QB Michael Vick if and when Vick is reinstated by the NFL. There are a couple of problems with that. First, he will be 29 this year when he is released from prison to a half way house. There is a good chance that he will have to spend a couple of years suspension after he gets out of jail. So he will be 31 or 32 and will not have played for 5 years.

There is also the issue of his contract. It is huge. No team is going to take the PR hit of Vick on their team, pay the price of the current contract and give the Falcons a draft choice for the pleasure of having demonstrations outside the stadium by PETA every game day.

My Advice: Art, call the Lions and offer Vick and a draft choice for a couple of used footballs. They will take the deal because they could use a few PETA people paying admission so they can carry signs inside the stadium. That will insure some paying customers anyway.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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