Are current NFL players and owners too greedy to treat retired players fairly and justly?
It appears that we’re close to a new collective bargaining agreement between NFL owners and players. Both sides will come out fine as they put the finishing touches on a deal to split up $9 billion in revenue. But former players — who die on average 15 years younger than their male counterparts in this country — are left to wonder why they’ve been left on the curb.
A group of former players has filed a legal complaint against the players and owners saying the two sides “are conspiring to depress the amounts of pensions and disability benefits to be paid to former NFL players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current NFL players.”
Old-timers like 71-year-old Mike Ditka, who made $12,000 his first year in the NFL, contend that former players on whose backs the NFL’s popularity was built, deserve more benefits due to the numerous physical and mental disabilities retired players deal with because of their NFL service.
Recently retired player Desmond Howard said he’s concerned about health benefits for former players from Ditka’s era.
“You really want the retired players to get better health care, better pensions,” said Howard. “These are the people who paved the way for the younger guys who are playing and actually benefiting from what the older guys accomplished … All the reports now coming out from the long-term effects of things like concussions lets you know that we need better health coverage.”
Retired NFL players risk early-onset dementia and other cognitive problems at rates significantly greater than the general population. Former NFL Hall-of-Famer and head of the players association, John Mackey, recently died at the age of 69 after struggling with the effects of dementia over the last decade of his life.
Mackey’s wife Sylvia described the last 10 years with Mackey this way, “a slow, deteriorating, ugly, caregiver-killing, degenerative, brain-destroying tragic horror.”
Until only very recently, the NFL party line (from both the owners and players union) has been that there isn’t any long-term evidence of any long-term lasting impact from head trauma in the NFL. Finally, after an outpouring of academic research to the contrary, a growing public outcry, and congressional hearings, the NFL has begun to acknowledge the problem of repetitive collisions in their sport and are gradually taking some safety-related reform measures.
Now it’s time that today’s NFL owners and players set aside their greed and start to treat former players fairly and with more respect.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon