By Ken Reed
After decades of treating retired players poorly, the NFL and NFLPA have come through big time for the league’s old timers in the league’s new CBA.
More than 10,000 retired players will get a substantial bump in their pensions, along with other new benefits.
“A few weeks ago, the question I had posed — would the league and players step up for the men on whose shoulders the N.F.L. was built? — was largely answered,” wrote NFL great Jim Brown in a letter to The New York Times.
“And the answer is yes. The N.F.L. and the National Football League Players Association ratified a new agreement that will govern the game for the next decade and provides unprecedented improvements in benefits that will help transform the lives of thousands of former N.F.L. players and their families.”
According to the NFL Alumni, average pensions for players jump from $30,000 per year to $46,000. Players with three years in the league will now get an annual pension of nearly $20,000 per year. Previously, players needed four years in the league to be vested. The $20,000 figure is expected to continue to rise, based on NFL revenue growth projections. The change effects about 3,000 former players, who now become eligible for benefits.
Also of note, retirees 65 and older will get a 25 percent increase in their Medicare supplement benefit. And the new CBA calls for “all retired players to receive free or low-cost screenings, preventive care, mental health services and orthopedic care at a new national network of top hospitals created by the owners and the union.” That is very important given what we’ve learned in recent years about repetitive brain trauma, concussions and CTE.
Brown, who was skeptical that the NFL and NFLPA would ever step up for the players who helped make the NFL so popular, was pleased with the result.
“I want to thank everyone who worked collectively to make this great change.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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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.
A League of Fans Special Report