The history of how the NFL and NFLPA have treated the retired players is replete with cases of indifference and neglect. It was great players like Hall of Fame DE Carl Eller that built the league to the point that the players and owners were able to argue over 9.3 billion dollars in revenue.
And yet most men that built the game are struggling economically. Even Hall of Fame players that retired before 1979 get just $ 200 per month from their pension. The pension is based on a percentage of what the player earned while active. Before 1979 most players were paid very little. Unlike Social Security, there was no adjustment for inflation in those pensions. As a result, they did not change despite the declining buying power of the dollar.
To make the situation worse, virtually all of these men have lingering physical problems as a result of the injuries sustained by violence of the game. Just in the last few years the public has become aware of the mental issues resulting from multiple concussions, a very widespread problem with players that affect their entire lives.
To make the situation worse, the process of claiming medical benefits has been made as difficult as possible. The red tape and length of the process has saved money at the expense of the people the fund was supposed to benefit.
The NFLPA has claimed that they represent the retired players as well. But up to the most recent CBA, the needs of the retired players were all but ignored.
Despite the multi-million dollar salaries that the current players get the plight of the retired players has gone unnoticed by most fans. In support of his fellow retirees Mr. Eller filed a suit against both the NFL and NFLPA to address the needs of those that built the league at the expense of their bodies. The efforts of Mr. Eller, AFL great Abner Haynes, Hall of Fame player and coach Mike Ditka and others directly led to the owners and union agreeing on an increase in the fund as part of the new CBA.
These groups of retired players are now asking to administer the fund. They have declared their independence from the NFLPA in the document copied below.
In addition you can help the effort by signing the petition you find at
Let the league and union know where you stand. These men gave their all for the game and the fans. It is time that the game gave them something back.
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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 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 .