NFL OWNERS PAY $245 MILLION INTO PLAYER BENEFITS

Here is a copy of the Press Release that was issued by the NFL yesterday.

The NFL clubs will complete their contributions toward 2010 NFL player benefits on Thursday, bringing the total amount funded by owners for the 2010 season to $245 million.

NFL owners deposited $177 million on Thursday with BNY Mellon to complete the funding for the 2010 season. Ownership contributions fund player benefits that include the pension plan, group medical insurance, the disability plan, and the ”88” program for retired players with dementia or related conditions.

“NFL ownership is proud of the outstanding benefits that NFL players have enjoyed in recent years and the improvements that have been made for retired players,” said Carolina Panthers founder and owner Jerry Richardson, a former NFL player who co-chairs the NFL Management Council Executive Committee. “We have more work to do, especially for the retired players, and look forward to further improvements being part of the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

In the past 10 years alone, NFL owners have contributed more than $2.7 billion for the funding of the various NFL benefit plans for current and retired players

BNY Mellon is a leading investment management and investment services company based in New York City. It was established in 2007 from the merger of Mellon Financial Corporation and The Bank of New York Company.

I still don’t understand why DeMaurice Smith and several other NFLPA Former Player Chapter members continue to publicly say that the owners contribute nothing to retired player pensions or benefits. Obviously I don’t think they are contributing enough, but to say they are doing nothing is just a bold faced lie! If Mr. Smith and other NFLPA retired players are willing to lie about something like that, then what else have they lied about? 

The Press Release that was issued yesterday does not include the $400 million that active players would have received in benefits in 2010 and that’s because the NFLPA allowed the owners to stop contributions to the active players benefits in an uncapped year – per the 2006 CBA. That provision was obviously included as an incentive to get players back to the bargaining table in the event the owners decided to opt out. 

Why did the NFLPA agree to an “opt out” provision in the 2006 CBA – a provision that allowed the NFL to stop contributing to active player benefits?  The NFLPA now wants retired players to fight for the restoration of $400 Million in annual contributions to active player benefits.

Well, my questions is: When will the NFLPA start fighting for the Pension Plan increase that NFLPA Former Player members voted for at the 2009 convention in Maui? They called for a $2,000 monthly increase in pre-1993 vested player pensions. The last time he spoke about this on the radio the amount was already reduced to $1,000 – and we still don’t know exactly how many players would be covered under the NFLPA proposal. Is it “more than 2,000” players as the owners stated in their final offer to the NFLPA, or will it include the 5,551 vested players that played before 1993?

DeMaurice Smith has continually told retired players that the owners contribute “zero” to the Pension Plan and retired player benefits.         

Of the total $245 million owner contribution to benefits, $177 Million is going into the Pension Plan – which also covers active players that are vested.  In fact, a majority of that $177 Million Pension Plan contribution is neccessary to cover actuarial costs associated with the post-1993 vested players -player’s that only need three credited seasons to be eligible for a pension.  Additionally, a huge amount of the money is only going to post-1993 players that are covered under the 5 free years of medical after retirement.  $18,734,549 was paid out for medical, dental and prescription drug insurance claims and administration in 2010.

There has been a concerted effort by some some former players to “scare” players into believing the NFL owners don’t do anything for retired players and that they are a bunch of heartless businessmen that don’t give a rats “behind” about the pioneer players of the NFL.

I can’t speak for other NFLPA Former Player Chapters, but I can tell you that Buffalo Bill’s owner, Ralph Wilson cares about us. In fact, he donates thousands of dollars to our local Chapter for operational expenses. I guess that would make the Buffalo Bills Former Player Chapter a “shill’ of the owner.  

In an October 20, 2009 Press Release from the NFLPA, Jean Fugett said “The fact is that the 88 Plan will no longer accept new applicants to the Plan once we get to an uncapped year. If he and Mr. Pash continue to tell the public that the uncapped year doesn’t affect former players, they are not telling the truth.”

Well the truth is, they did accept new applicants in 2010 and they paid out over $10 million to 151 former players with dementia, Alzheimers or ALS.

If we are going to have a civil discussion about the issues that affect retired players, it needs to start by laying out the truth and the facts .  If some retired players continue to resort to falsehoods and half-truths, it will only serve to destroy our credibility and could ultimately hurt our push for better pensions and benefits.

Don’t be surprised if the statements that are being made by DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA are used against them when they get into the courtroom.  How will the NFLPA be able to say they are bagaining in good faith?

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About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on April 1, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Jeff,

    The multi-issued CBA process is very complex. It has pitted so many factions of players and ,no doubt owners, against one another that it’s tough knowing whom you can trust. One way to assess these matters is to stick to the FACTS such as you point out above.

    I agree with you that the owner of our former team, the Bills, is a cut above, as reputedly are owners like Bob Kraft, the Maras, the Rooneys and Paul Allen out here in my native Seattle. However they have banded together with the reputed other end of the good guy spectrum like Jerry Richardson, quoted above, and Jerry Jones to produce a paltry come-out offer of 60% increase over our current pension which still leaves us with BY FAR the most paltry benefits in pro sports and including that meager offer our pension would still be 75% BELOW MLB, 55% below the NBA, while having taken several times the physical risk of the other sports which now exacts a painfull and life-threatening toll on us all. There is absolutely no mention of eliminating the restrictive vesting requirements to match MLB or even the Canadian Football League.

    The active players who are the ONLY MEMBERS OF THE NFLPA WHO CAN VOTE have continually backtracked on the amount of pension increase, and have not even raised the issues of eliminating vesting like MLB or adopting reasonable disability reform so that our disability plan actually covers the vast majority of severely injured players declared disabled under Social
    Security and finally complies with federal law under ERISA. Attorney John Hogan has done the work for them, and all they have to do is implement his disability plan reforms.

    The NFLPA director and his associates who work for the active players who elected and selected them increasingly make a hypocracy out of their “One Team” mantra by not advocating for anything close to the level of retiree benefits that are reasonable and fair. The vast majority of those active players will need help sooner than they realize. Drew Brees has apparently reiterated his absurd statement that retired players are in dire need because of bad business deals,etc.

    STICKING TO THE FACTS is increasingly the way to a resolution. FACTS will be uncovered in two Twin Cities and several other U.S. courtrooms in the next 36 months that will damn both the NFL owners and the NFL active players with regard to their combined mistreatment of NFL retirees in the minds of the judges, juries and more importantly the public and their representatives in Congress.

    FACTS will besmirch the reputation of DeMaurice Smith and the impressive legacy he was building until he stumbled on the current hornet’s nest of his position at the NFLPA. Decent human beings don’t have others escorted from meetings under a security guard.

    This is unmittigated G-R-E-E-D incresingly displayed on the national stage in front of the ticket buying, advertising viewing public and both the NFL ownership and the active players know it. Jeff, keep sticking to the FACTS, advocating for greater than MLB fair benefits, and in the end if the owners and active players ignore doing the right thing, I assure you, they do so at their own financial peril.

    Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith know eventually we will prevail on the FACTS.

    Bruce Jarvis
    Buffalo Bills 1971-74

  2. Jeff- I have an important question to ask you. Please be truthful: would you buy a used car from DeMaurice Smith?

  3. Raymond Brown

    Dear Jeff, First of all I would like to “Thank You”, for the effort,in researching your numbers and facts, and then informing us retired players on whats happening in the NFL Owners/ex- NFLPA CBA negotiations. Retired players have no seat at this CBA table and are restricted to the sidelines.We have no dependable advocate to voice our concerns and hopes on pension and healthcare/disability improvements and that is very frustrating.I felt compelled to write this message because right now I have a 62 year old friend and 10 year,ex-NFL teammate, who had over 10 documented concussions and now as some form of dimentia and maybe early symtoms of Alzheimers.He has no Insurance, nor any savings and has not been able to hold a steady job for over 10 years now.He is so proud and shamed, that he called on no one. We just got him connected with the NFL Players Care team and the NFL Mackey 88 Plan’s office.The ball seems to be rolling now.Hopefully he can get some help.I am sick and tired of seeing the Dave Duerson, Mike Webster, and George Webster tragedies happening to our NFL Brothers. Now let me ask you a queston? Why is there a big question on who is paying for the pensions and plan benefits? It could be only two entities that are contributing to those funds. It is either the NFL Owners or the ex-NFLPA Union. Since you have shown the NFL Owners dollars input, I would like to see the figures put out by our NFLPA.
    I understand our ex-NFLPA Union works for the present day players and I hope and pray a wedge does not come between us?…But MONEY does strange things to people and relationships!!! To my retired NFL Brothers…..WE have to look out for ourselves and trust no one.If we did not learn this when retired players had to sue our own Union [John Madden, EA], Lawsuit, and win……then we Retired Players have a lot to learn…….and Guys I know we are Smarter than that?

  4. Amen!

  5. Bruce,
    Thanks for the great compliment! I have been advocating a number of substantial changes to the substance and process of the disabiity plan for retired players. I can understand why the NFL has ignored it, but I just can’t understand why the Union (Trade Association) has ignored it, and won’t even discuss it! From several recent reports it is painfully obvious to me that they don’t even have anyone who really knows about disability law and procedure advising them.

  6. John,

    As more info from the owners and players come to light, the two keys that involve a lot of money emerge: 1) a rookie wage scale depending on its details has the power to shift a lot of money between the owners, active players, and because money saved by the owners could go to retiree benefits, retired players (taking money from agents in the process); and 2) a fair and legal disability plan under ERISA law would cost the owners several times more than they are paying today and since it comes from League revenues active players see that as lowering the amount of money that flows to them.

    Well active players understand this, for the great percentage of you who leave the game damaged you are going to need a fair and reasonable disability plan down the road. And owners know this, the American public and their representatives in Congress are not going to stand by and pay for the BILLIONS in medical costs that you are shifting on to the public by not having an adequate disibility plan as part of retiree benefits.

    Both sides need to realize it’s smarter to get ahead of the train wreck of retiree issues than to wait and have the costs to the League compound exponentially. The tab for the future cleanup to both the owners and today’s active players and those yet to come WILL BE PAID. The U.S. Courts and the Congress will do the collecting.

    Bruce Jarvis
    Buffalo Bills 1971-74

  7. Unless you are talking about improving our pension, which is the only fact that matters, you can’t be trusted to do what’s right.

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