Former NFL player eats hat of first pick in NFL Draft

As promised, in a Sporting News interview, NFL Alumni member Jeff Nixon, a retired Buffalo Bill player ate the hat of the first pick in the NFL draft. He did it to protest the bonus money that first round picks will receive because a rookie pay system is still not in place.

Although the NFL and the NFLPA have talked about setting a limit on the bonus money that rookies receive and then using the savings to increase pre-1993 player pensions…..nothing has been done because the active players are not happy with the owner’s last offer.    

Recovering in his hospital bed at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, New York, Mr. Nixon said “no matter how much Buffalo hot sauce I put on each bite and washed down with a fine Chianti, it was still hard to choke down the fact that these rookies would still be receiving obscenely high bonuses before they set one foot on the NFL gridiron……especially when we still have Hall of Fame players that are receiving monthly pensions that are less than $200 a month.” 

The stunt almost cost Mr. Nixon his life.

As Cam Newton was introduced as the first pick in the NFL draft and received his honorary baseball hat from Roger Goodell, Mr. Nixon dedicated the first bite of the hat to all the former players that had been denied disability by the NFL Retirement Board.  As he began to swallow the first piece he said, “I do this in memory of Mike Webster and all the other players who have fought the Retirement Board to obtain what is rightfully theirs – compensation for the injuries they incurred on the NFL field.”

Iron Mike did not live to see the court victory that paid his estate for the injuries he sustained. Although Mike is gone, his legacy will be that the NFL and the NFLPA finally began to focus more attention on the plight of former players.

As Mr. Nixon fought back the urge to vomit over the atrocity, he said “This is also dedicated to all the pioneers of the NFL that never even had a disability plan to compensate them for the blood they shed on the football field.”

You could see that Mr. Nixon was visibly choked up and was hoping that the NFL and the NFLPA weren’t still suffering from what some retired players commonly refer to as the “delay, deny and hope you die syndrome.”  There are medications for that, but the side effects include: Trouble sleeping due to guilty conscience, drowsiness from apathy, nausea and vomiting from neglecting the older generation of NFL players, amnesia and forgetting the legacy that brought them wealth.   

On his second bite of Cam Newton’s hat, Mr. Nixon said “This is in memory to all the great players that have passed away while hoping that the NFL and the NFLPA would agree to substantially increase the pensions of the players that built the foundations of the NFL. They unfortunately will never see that day come to fruition. They are still with us in spirit and their voices will echo for eternity urging us to continue the fight for what is right.”

Paramedics that were on the scene, said that it is not advisable to try this stunt at home because it could lead to what is commonly referred to as “restless legs, knees and other surgically repaired body parts syndrome.”    

Mr. Nixon was having a hard time focusing, but after just a few minutes on the sideline a doctor asked him if he could see the two fingers he was holding up. Mr. Nixon said “I saw only one finger…. and it was the middle one.”  He also said he had a tremendous desire to eat a big Fig Newton and said maybe the raisins would help him when he takes a bowel movement in the next day or two – one that will undoubtedly bring back memories of his publicity stunt.

Mr. Nixon was sent immediately back into the draft room by his coach and mentor, George Martin – the Executive Director of the NFL Alumni.

Asked for a comment on the media attention surrounding the event, Mr. Martin said “Jeff, is one crazy son of a biscuit eater, but anything that brings more attention to the needs of retired players is what the NFL Alumni Association is all about.”     

Back at the table, Jeff began his final attempt to tackle the hat saying “This bite is in memory of John Mackey and the players that now have no memory of their loved ones due to the numerous concussions they sustained on the football field.”

With that statement, he fell unconscious and was rushed to the emergency ward at Millard Fillmore Hospital. In the ambulance he briefly regained consciousness and said “I had hoped to reach my 55th birthday on October 13, 2011, but at least my wife will now get the NFL “Widow Benefit” that will pay her $9,000 a month for 4 years and then $3,600 a month thereafter.”

While slipping in and out of a coma, some nurses told this reporter that they overheard Mr. Nixon tell a family member “I was wondering why my wife had strongly encouraged me to do this stunt, but then I remembered that once I turn 55 the “Widow Benefit” is no longer available and she would only receive my regular monthly pension of $1,270 a month.”

News Update: Jeff is at home resting comfortably.  In a short statement released to the public, he said “I love my wife, but I am concerned that she bought me a new radio, plugged it in and placed it on a shelf above the bathtub.”

A satire by yours truly,

Jeff Nixon   


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 29, 2011, in NFL Alumni News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Mike Webster was a great football player and a great man and friend .He should be remembered during this battle for better benifits.
    He was used over and over to show how great the NFL is and was and for the NFL to let a Hall of Famer like him to die the way he did is a great injustice.

  2. Jeff- Your unselfish, patriotic act of courage is greatly appreciated by us pre 93’retirees. Hopefully your upcoming gastric surgery will not impede your advocacy in seeing the NFLPA and NFL Management Council pony up the resources for those who made the game what it is today. It was interesting to observe many of the #1 draft choices at last night’s draft. Did you notice the bling some of these untested soon-to-be rookies were adorned with. How many oversized diamond earings and gold wristwatches did you count on these future millionaires. I guess we now know where our “increased benefits” package proposal will end up. Jeff, I checked my $50 Timex watch and realize I had to mail your get well card. Again, best of luck with your upcoming gastric surgery and make sure you destroy your’s wife’s collection of voodoo dolls!

  3. Good stuff Jeff…LOL and COL (Cry Out Loud):)
    On the Widow’s benefit…my understanding was that this benefit would apply as long as you didn’t start receiving your pension benefits. Which is it???

    • Unfortunately, the “Widow’s benefit” ends at age 55 whether you take your retirement or wait and take it later.

      Additionally, if a player takes early retirement (between the ages of 45 and 55) the benefit ends immediately.

  4. Jeff, Satire is very effective when straight up discussion is ignored. I got through 6 training camps with the Bears and can still jog..knees are OK. Many guys are wobbling, limping, and crutching and it will take folks wiser than I to get the benefits “correct..” At least you and others are headed the right way. Let me know if I can help Dave Hale Bears ’69-’74 DT #75

    • Thanks Dave!

      I appreciate your support.

      (buuuuurrrrrrp!) I still have tremendous heartburn from that hat – if you know what I really mean – which you do!

      Can you believe some people thought I was serious about going to the hospital and slipping in and out of a coma!

      I guess satire can be effective, but only when it’s recognized as satire.

      Jeff Nixon

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