A rallying cry for all former NFL Players

In a previous article I noted that the NFL owners, via a letter from Jerry Richardson and Mark Murphy, have proposed a new rookie pay system that would provide $300 million to be used for active and retired player benefits. NFL Hall of Famer, Joe DeLamielleure wrote an article that recommended splitting the $300 million down the middle. I think you will find that most retired players would agree with that recommendation.  

Jim McFarland, the NFLPA Former Player Representative on the Executive Committee asked the NFL Alumni to get a guarantee from the owners on the proposal that was outlined in the Richardson/Murphy letter.

 He asked for guarantees on:  

  • Providing a new pension supplement averaging 60%, not out of the salary cap monies allocated to players, but out of their owner funds to be added to the Bert Belle Defined Benefit Plan

All former players can all rally around that!

  • Provide that $300 Million in savings from the proposed new rookie pay system be divided equally so that $150 Million is guaranteed by the NFL owners to be allocated to fund benefits for former (retired) players.

All former players can all rally around that!

  • Provide that the owner contribution to the legacy fund be funded by $50 million per year for the entire 10-year term of the contract 

Although the Legacy Fund was not mentioned in the Richardson/Murphy letter, I think we can all rally around that last bullet point!  

As I pointed out in my response to Mr. McFarland’s email, the NFL Alumni does not have a seat at the bargaining table and cannot guarantee anything that is being discussed in the CBA negotiations. Only the active players can guarantee that retired player pension increases and benefits are included in the next CBA.     

  • In a recent email, Jim McFarland said that “In our negotiations with the NFL, every one of these Executive Committee members has remained steadfast in demanding that improved retirement benefits, particularly for pre-93 former players, be included as a part of any new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).”

All former players can rally around that!

In the same email, Jim said Cornelius[Bennett] has made it clear during negotiations that he wants to see non-vested players included in the benefits package.”

All former players can rally around that!

These are all issues that I think most former players can get behind, but we need Jim McFarland, Cornelius Bennett and the NFLPA Chapter Presidents and members to push those proposals with the active players.  We need the NFL Alumni Association and the Chapter Presidents and members to push for those proposals.   

I am still disappointed that the NFL and NFLPA and have not provided any written proposals advocating for specific reforms to the NFL Disability Plan.

Disability attorney and well respected retired player advocate, John Hogan, has provided numerous disabillity plan recommendations and improvements, but to date we have received no information on exactly what, if anything, is happening in CBA discussions regarding the Disability Plan.      

George Martin and the NFL Alumni have specifically advocated for the elimination of the 15 year deadline to qualify for football degenerative total and permanent disability.

All of the aforementioned proposals – if enacted in the next CBA – would go a long way in improving the lives of retired NFL players. 

If we want to see these proposals included in the next CBA, we better get off our butts and start making a few waves.

You can start by sending an email to DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell asking for these proposals to be included in the next CBA.

Their email addresses are:



The rallying cry to the NFL and NFL Alumni is “Please Provide Pioneer Players with Proper Pensions”

My old Coach Chuck Knox used to say “Don’t forget your 6 P’s – Proper Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

It’s time for us to start practicing what we preach and start letting our voices be heard.     



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 May 11, 2011, in NFL Alumni News and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Jeff,
    It would be prudent to have a petition drawn up as a document stating the rally points and all of the Retired Players with Computer Access can electronically sign up. This would consolidate the effort and the document/petition could be used in other venues to state our case and support.
    Concerning the Retired Players that don’t have internet access, use the Presidents of the RP Chapters NFLPA/NFL ALUMNI/Fourth and Goal etc. to champion this effort and complete the process as Retired Player inclusive as possible.

  2. If the owners are saving 300 million dollars per year for the 10 year life of the contract, why are the retired players only asking for 150 million for the first year and 50 million for the remaining nine? What happens to the additional 250 million?

    • Bob:

      We are asking for the $150 million to be an annual payment to the Pension Plan for the entire length of the next CBA and $50 million annually for the Legacy Fund for the length of the next CBA.

      The owners would not be saving this money, because it would be redirected to active and retired players.

      I’m not sure what the owners would be keeping from a new rookie pay system that is over and above the $300 million we are advocating to be split.

      Does that make sense?

  3. Ron Pritchard

    Jeff, I am still in the dark about that 60% increase on my $138 per month? If that 60% is based on my pension, how do I rally around that? I am not being cute, I simple can not believe that $80.82 per month more, is something to shout about! Or is the Legecy Fund contributing on a monthly bases to us pre-93 guys on top of the pension? Please help me understand.What I do understand is ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL. Thanks

  4. Richard Trapp

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Richard Trapp
    To: Demaurice.Smith@nflplayers.com
    Cc: Roger.Goodell@nfl.com
    Sent: Wed, May 11, 2011 12:17 pm
    Subject: pension benefits
    Sirs- I am a former player that has 3 years vested. I played in the 60s and 70s. As such, I am not considered a vested player for pension benefits. I also played one year in the CFL and I get a small pension from them! Something is wrong here. I could not play more years as I got injured each year (ruptured spleen, broken leg, 3 concussions, separated shoulder, etc.). Please consider changing the rules and allow players with 3 years in the league to be considered vested for pension and the other benefits that “vested” players have now. You know, 3 years on a roster in the league is pretty good, probably more than half the players that make a roster do not play more than 3 years. It would seem that a cap on rookie salaries would be a good way to create more money for retired players, as rookies have not even set foot on the field yet! Let them earn their salaries! Thanks.

    Richard Trapp, Esq.
    231 East Colonial Dr.
    Orlando, FL 32801

  5. Jeff,

    It has always bewildered me that the current players that enjoy the increased benefits, do so with out regard of the sacrifice that players made by giving up two years of salary as players did in the 80’s. The two strikes cost us players dearly in our personal income. I played from 80-89 , so 2 out of 10 years of my income was sacrificed for gaining future benefits that current players enjoy. I wonder how many would give up 2 years of their lucrative contracts for their fellow players today. I cannot fault them however when you look at the example they followed. Your report of the 15 million hidden in deferred comp by their leader is epitome of narcisim . I hope through this lockout they open their eyes to the real leaders ( former players and Alumni) that sacrificed so much and so unselfishly.

  6. Jim Fahnhorst

    I just want to make sure I understand. Are we talking about a 60% increase (give or take) for ALL pre-93 players? Before it was for the ones who were already collecting, or over 55 years old.

    Are we going to try to get the benefit for everyone that retired before ’93? I believe your post implied for everyone. Thanks in advance for the clarification and thank you for your endless effort.




    • John:

      The answer is yes…….All former players from 1992 all the way back to the beginning of the NFL are included in our push to increase the Pension Plan!

      Jeff Nixon

  8. Jeff,
    One correction – the Alumni Association has backed my proposal to eliminate the 15 year deadline to qualify for football degenerative total and permanent disability.
    Also, I agree with several of the other comments that 60% of a couple hundred dollars does not help much.

  9. Thanks Jeff for your constant and influential voice on the subjects that need to be addressed for retired players. I just sent an email to Roger Goodell asking for some explanations on why pre93 retirees with only 3 years cannot be treated fairly. I feel as though we played, practiced, and participated the same way that our present players have. Is there a lawyer that can sue the NFL on behalf of the pre93 class, so that we can get some answers? Is it worth it to try this method? Do you think that it is a winnable case?

    • James:

      Carl Eller is suing the NFL. The lawyers for that case have asked me and several other former players to come to Minnesotta this Sunday to discuss the case and see where we can all come to agreement on a basic set of goals for increasing the Pension Plan. Carl Ellers’s anti-trust lawsuit has been included with the NFL (Tom Brady) anti-trust lawsuit. I’m not sure if it is a winable case. I am concerned that the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) has already ruled on prior cases and has set precedent on the fact that non-union members cannot be voting members of a union. This is where it gets a little complicated. The NFLPA is no longer a union! So who really represents retired players interests at this point? As a strong advocate for retired players, I will carry the message of “substantial” increases for retired players. At the very least, the playing field should be leveled for all players to be vested after three credited seasons and all players should be receiving $470 per credited season. The only way that the can get done is with the implementation of a rookie “bonus” scale. The owners have recommended that $300 million in savings from the new rookie pay system be provided to active and retired players. We have recommended that the money be split equally between active and retired players and that $150 million be contributed annually (for the length of the next CBA) into the pension plan to increase pre-1993 player pensions.

      Your alumni brother,

      Jeff Nixon

  10. what is the deal, with 60 percent for the old guys. I thought we were talking about 2000 grand a month. 60% of peanuts, is less peanuts. It is the same old story from owners to divide and conquer the players from the very start of the union. they told us then there was no money for the old players pre 1959. 60% is a joke compared to baseball, hockey and bb players.

  11. As usual, this talk about “all players” only includes “vested” players, so when you say, “All former players can all rally around that!” I hardly think that is the case. There are alot of us out there who sacrificed our bodies, but because of injuries, we were not able to play those 3 years and 3 games of a fourth, in order to get vested. Yet there is little talk about including us in any kind of settlement. Once again, “all players” are only worried about themselves.

    • John:

      Did you read the entire article? Here is one of the rallying points in the article:

      In the same email, Jim said “Cornelius[Bennett] has made it clear during negotiations that he wants to see non-vested players included in the benefits package.”
      All former players can rally around that!

      Jef Nixon

  12. Jeff,

    60% increase with minimum of $2000 what ever is greater. Bert Bell and/or Legacy fund. If Pension increase of 60% does not increase to 2,000. Have the Legacy Fund fund kick in for the difference. Have them talk in dollars not percentages. I do believe it should be more.
    Support John Hogan Disability plan with no statutes of limitations on Disability. Taking Pension should have no affect on disability claims. We were sold out once more by Gene Upshaw and Union so they can collect their millions. Wow!

    NFL players contract should have a clause that 5% of all future player licensing revenue go to NFLA so we can take care of former player needs. These active players will be us one day and we will have the money and programs to take care of them and their families. Why give licensing money to highly compensated Union employees that have publicly stated they do not work for us. The majority of players would be in favor of this. Lets bring this back to what socialized to believe when strapping on the Helmut. This is a TEAM sport. Baseball is now more of a team sport than football. They take care of thier pioneers. They did the right thing.

    Peace out

    Tim Sherwin
    8 years career ending injury

    • Tim:

      Thanks for your thoughts and ideas on the issues.

      It’s hard to believe we can’t get more of our NFL Alumni Board members to take a minute and share their opinions.

      If we can’t get our elected leaders to speak up, then how in the hell are we going to get the message out to the NFL and NFLPA!

      Apathy is our worst enemy.

      Jeff Nixon

  13. Bill Cody '66-'72

    Jeff….I follow this “site” with much interest. I am recovering from shoulder replacement surgery (6 weeks ago). That was my 15th orthopaedic surgery procedure and I am scheduled to have my other shoulder replaced in 8 weeks….after 6 knee operations (incl. 2 replacements) and 2 shoulder operations (incl 1 replacement), and 2 hip surgeries including a hip replacement, and another shoulder replacement scheduled and, I am currently being treated by a neurologist for memory loss, due inpart to 3 concussions suffered during my pro-career. I must say I am disappointed not being eligible for T&P benefits due to my final credited (6) season(s) with the Lions, Saints, and Eagles being 1972. I am not crying “NFL Poster-Child”. Many of my teammates & competitors are worst off than I am. At least I am walking “up-right”…..thanks for all you’re doing…..

  14. What you say is true… “the NFL Alumni does NOT have a seat at the bargaining table and cannot guarantee anything that is being discussed in the CBA negotiations”

    But just to clarify, that does not mean that the retired players are… not being represented in the CBA negotiations. They are.

    Remember, that Carl Eller, President of the Retired Players Association is at the table representing ALL the retired players, including the NFL Alumni. He has been at every mediation session and every court hearing to date. He is actively promoting and representing the needs of the retirees.

    There is an RPA Summit this weekend in Minneapolis, where all the major groups representing the retirees (including the Alumni) have been invited to participate.

    Thanks for all your posts and passion around these important issues!

    • Michelle:

      In addition to Carl Eller, Jim McFarland and Cornelius Bennett have been at the bargaining table and mediation sessions on behalf of retired players.

      I have been invited – and will be attending – the meeting in Minnneapolis.

      Jeff Nixon

      • Cool. I certainly hope you guys can all come together to gain alignment and agreement on the proposed benefits you are asking for. And more importantly, to present a unified front, representing all the retired players.

  15. Dick Bielski

    It’s a shame, the pre 59er’s are dropping like flies. Each week we hear that a few more have passed on. Time is of the greatest importance. What we need, if everyone is serious about including the old timers, is to do more action and less talking about what is to be done. If what you say is correct, when will it take effect and get started?
    With a proper pension for the men that started what the players of today are reaping is not asking for a lot and this would solve a lot of problems. Most of the original retired players could use the extra money to obtain the proper insurance to take care of their own physical needs. That’s not asking a lot from the men that led the way to the success of which the present players are enjoying today.
    Dick Bielski
    Philadelphia Eagles
    Dallas Cowboys
    Baltimore Colts

  16. Tony Plummer

    It would be wonderful to do the right thing for those who came before us in the NFL. Not taking anything away form the current players, but without those who palyed for the love of the game, lets do something right for them while they still can enjoy it. God Bless them all and keep them.

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